Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's Really Dangerous to Walk in Florida

Download the new report here.
It's more dangerous to be a pedestrian in Florida's large metro areas than in those of any other state.

That's according to Dangerous by Design, a new report by Smart Growth America. The report takes a deep dive into the problem of pedestrian fatalities - namely, walkers who get struck and killed by cars. It uses a Pedestrian Danger Index to rank the 104 largest metro areas in the U.S. based on the number of walker fatalities and the overall number of walking commuters in the area.

It found that of the 10 metro areas with the highest score (meaning, the most fatalities per walking population), eight of them were in Florida. All of them were in the South.

Of the 10 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians, eight are in Florida.

Nationwide, the statistics are alarming: between 2005 and 2014, over 46,000 people were killed by a car while walking. In 2014, that number was nearly 5,000 - an average of 13 pedestrians struck and killed by a car every day. And they aren't just statistics: Smart Growth America reminds us that "Each one of those people was a child, parent, friend, classmate, or neighbor. And these tragedies are occurring across the country—in small towns and big cities, in communities on the coast and in the heartland."

The report comes with a few interesting interactive maps. The first one lets you see all of the walker fatalities in any part of the country. Here's Washington, DC, where I live, which ranks the 69th most dangerous metro area for pedestrians:

A map of every pedestrian fatality in the Washington, DC metro area.

The second map, which is a heat map of the same data, shows that the neighborhoods in DC proper with the highest concentration of pedestrian fatalities are the Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant area, and New York Avenue:

A heat map showing the highest concentrations of pedestrian fatalities in the Washington, DC metro area.

And here's what that heat map looks like in the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in the country - Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida:

A heat map showing the highest concentrations of pedestrian fatalities in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL area.

The report delves into which communities are the most vulnerable to being killed by a car while walking. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it found that poor neighborhoods and people of color - in both cases less likely to own their own car - are more likely to be killed by a car while walking than white people or people living in wealthier areas.

People of color are more likely to be killed by a car while walking.

The report ends with a call to action: as Transportation Secretary-designate Elaine Chao will have her Senate committee hearing this week, Smart Growth America is encouraging people to write to the Senate Commerce Committee and urge them to ask Chao a question about pedestrian fatalities. We don't know much about where Chao stands on a number of transportation issues, so this hearing is a good opportunity to get more information - but only if they ask the right questions.

Download the full report here.

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