Dangerous by Design, an annual study of the dangers American pedestrians face, has been published for 2014. The study looks at a number of different factors among pedestrian deaths, including the geographic locations, race, and age of pedestrians. In terms of cities, the top 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are all in the Sunbelt, with Orlando-Kissimmee, FL topping the list.
As for why this is the case, the report says: "These places grew in the post-war period, mostly through rapid spread of low-density neighborhoods that rely on wider streets with higher speeds to connect homes, shops and schools—roads that tend to be more dangerous for people walking."
According to the report, 47,025 people were killed in pedestrian incidents from 2003 to 2012. The elderly and racial minorities are disproportionately represented in these deaths, which, the report says, can largely be prevented by more intelligent urban design.
Here were the conclusions we found the most interesting:
- Roads classified as "arterial," meaning roads built to channel the highest volume of traffic, and which tend to be built wide, fast and flat, are the roads that saw over half of pedestrian casualties.
- "…these arterials have become the Main Streets of our communities, and now typically are flanked by apartment complexes, shopping centers and office parks. Design guidelines do provide some flexibility, but too often the needs of people and communities have been secondary concerns or simply left out of the process entirely," the report says.
- From 2003 to 2012, 68 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred on roads that were built with some amount of federal money and which followed federal guidelines.
- 61.3 percent of fatalities occurred on roads with a speed limit of 40 or higher, as opposed to just 9 percent that happened on roads with 30 mph speed limit or lower.
"Older adults regardless of race, African Americans and Hispanics identify neighborhood characteristics such as sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting as significantly more important in achieving physical activity goals than younger Whites.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) should follow Congressional intent and hold states accountable for traffic fatalities and serious injuries."
"Make safety for people on foot or bicycle a clear performance measure for future federal transportation law."
- "Increase the federal cost share for certain safety programs."
- "Ensure better data collection."
- "Adopt a national Complete Streets policy. A national Complete Streets policy is a forward-looking strategy, applied to new and reconstruction projects, to gradually improve roads through cost-effective best practices and proven safety measures."
"Strengthen the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)." (The TAP is a federally-funded initiative to create biking and walking projects.)