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New report and map chronicles the visceral reality of 47,000 preventable pedestrian deaths

The 2011 edition of our pedestrian safety report is out today, looking back on the 47,000 people that were killed and 688,000 injured while walking our nation’s streets in the ten years from 2000-2009. Dangerous by Design 2011 examines the problem and several solutions for the epidemic of preventable deaths that far too many have simply accepted as matter of course.

This edition of our national report, along with data and a report or factsheet for all 50 states, comes with a powerful visual: this year, we’ve taken the pedestrian fatalities from 2001 to 2009 that have location data (all but about 5 percent) and plotted them on an interactive map, allowing you to take a look at the streets and roads near you to see how safe or unsafe they may be. Test it out.

http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/map/

Type an address and once the map draws, click on any point to see the available information about the victim, the date, the location, the street type and even what the road looks like via Google Street View. Here’s a sample from Orlando, rated the #1 most dangerous metro area in the country.

The visual is striking. Shown on a map like this, it’s shockingly easy to pick out the busy arterial roads where fatalities are strung out in a tidy little line following the path of the road. Nationally speaking, the majority of these deaths occurred along these “arterial” roadways that are dangerous by design — streets engineered for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles.

Our federal tax dollars actually go to build these streets that are designed to be perilous to children, older adults and everyone else. And yet, right now, some in Congress are considering the total elimination of funding for projects to make it safer to walk and bicycle.

The highways-only lobby insists that pedestrian safety is a “frill” and a local responsibility. But 67 percent of these fatalities over the last 10 years occurred on federal-aid roads — roads eligible to receive federal funding or with federal guidelines or oversight for their design.

That’s right: Federal programs have encouraged state departments of transportation to prioritize speeding traffic over the safety of people in our neighborhoods and shopping districts. Shouldn’t our tax dollars be used to build streets that are safe for all users, and not deadly for those on foot?

The irony is that fixing these conditions is relatively cheap: Existing funds for that purpose — now targeted for elimination — amount to less than 1.5 percent of the current federal transportation outlay. A policy of giving federal support only to “complete streets” that are designed for the safety of people on foot or bicycle as well as in cars would cost next to nothing.

Tell Congress: it’s no time to start cutting funding keeps pedestrians safe.

UPDATE: Within hours of the report’s release, Senator Tom Harkin and eleven co-sponsors formally introduced the Complete Streets Act of 2011, which mirrors its House counterpart — sponsored by Republican Steve LaTourette and Democrat Doris Matsui —  in calling for streets that are safe and accessible for all users, whether on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike or using public transit. The Iowa Democrat, who has introduced similar legislation in the past, mentioned the Dangerous by Design report in his statement this afternoon.

32 Comments

  1. Michael

    6 years ago

    Just another attempt to dismantle and take away the American people’s freedoms.

    Pay attention and watch where you are walking always works and no legislation is needed.

    Does it surprise anyone why Florida has 4 cities on the worst list… I’ll give you a clue, old folks.

    • guest

      6 years ago

      You are about as dumb as they come.

    • Mebertandalex

      6 years ago

      which you will be soon enough, d***head

  2. @Michael

    Nope. Florida doesn’t rank that high on fatality rate for older folks, so it’s not the prevalence of seniors in Florida skewing the rank. They’re not even disproportionately represented in fatalities, dying at the same rate as in the rest of the US. We have a box on this in the report, actually. Bottom line: It ain’t the seniors.

    I’m pretty sure that “paying attention and watch where you’re walking” isn’t going to keep you safe in many places. Most places, actually, where the majority of the deaths are happening. Like here. Or here. Or here.

  3. Don

    6 years ago

    @Michael

    “Pay attention and watch where you are walking always works”

    What about “pay attention and watch where you are driving?” Why blame the victim?

  4. Pingback: In Florida, Walk At Your Own Risk | Transportation Nation

  5. Johnny Talavera

    6 years ago

    I live along the most dangerous area of our nation Kissimmee/Orlando area. I can attest to the accuracy of this report as I drive daily between Kissimmee and the Walt Disney World where I have worked for nearly seven years. When I drive to work I sometimes feeel like I’m driving in a live video game as tourist and locals run across streets that are so wide that sometimes the light turns green before they even get to the other side which puts them at risk for serious injury or death. I sometimes wondered why funding cannot be provided to build pedestrian walk bridges or tunnels to walk under much like the ones Ive used growing up in New York City. Please I implore the state and federal officials to look into this and build something that is not “inventing a new wheeel ” but is something that is rather common in the five boroughs of New York. Even while vactioning in Las Vegas a few years back I noticed I could not cross the main blvd in Vegas as it had pedestrian bridges built to accomodate people who wanted to walk from one resort to another.

  6. Jane West

    6 years ago

    “Just another attempt to dismantle and take away the American people’s freedoms.”
    Uh, who’s freedom are you talking about Michael? Creating and perpetuating an infrastructure that makes us all slaves to asphalt and cars is a deprivation of my freedom! You aren’t free if you just got made into a vehicular manslaughter statistic while strolling along the side of a road!

    I want the freedom to walk and bike to work or take a train to work. I want the freedom to tell some billionaire oil exec that I won’t be stuffing his pockets today with his $4 gas, thanks though. We have people in our state that have to get second jobs to pay for the gas costs to get to their first jobs – what kind of freedom is that? Time to stop being slaves to the Detroit and Big Oil rhetoric and create a lifestyle that we enjoy and can afford.

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  9. fiddle mike

    6 years ago

    Gas rose over two dollars since the Obama regime began. The Leftists don’t want you to travel freely any more than they want you to speak or think freely.

    • Flafuoco

      6 years ago

      and gas is still too cheap as it allows nitwits (like yourself) to go joyriding, often while drunk.
      hike the gas tax, at the pump, and use that money to fund highways and bridges…
      Let the driving public pay the full cost of concrete and asphalt instead of paying out of general revenues.
      BTW: “leftists” know that we are not travelling freely in this country. the difference is they elect candidates that represent the common good. They aren’t being duped in promoting fat cat oil execs (think George Jr, Dickhead Cheney …)

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  12. Pingback: Transportation For America » Lawmakers move to address pedestrian safety in the wake of Dangerous by Design

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  15. Marc Brenman

    6 years ago

    The most obvious way to improve pedestrian safety is to require sidewalks.  But the jurisdiction over sidewalks is in dispute between transportation (USDOT on the federal level) and cities (HUD on the federal level).  Local zoning also often doesn’t require sidewalks.  

  16. Tamara Henry

    6 years ago

    THAT’S WHY WE’RE SAVING LIVES WITH OUR TRAFFIC SIGNS:http://www.youtube.com/tvstarfish#p/u/37/5HlS6CE4nww

  17. Anonymous

    6 years ago

    Of course no mention here of how many of those pedestrian deaths were the fault of the pedestrians.

    I live in Tampa Bay area for decades.  And in 8/10 of the deaths, the pedestrian was at fault.  http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/as-one-woman-knows-drivers-are-also-victims-in-pedestrian-involved/1165959

    Quote:  “In 2009 — the latest available year for statewide pedestrian accident statistics — the state said 482 people died trying to cross Florida’s roads. The statistics show that 232 of them — 48 percent — weren’t using a crosswalk.
    Florida doesn’t keep track of how many pedestrians were at fault when they died. But the state does track one of the most important factors in pedestrian deaths: alcohol use.
    The state said that 40 percent — 195 out of 482 — of those who died on foot in 2009 had been drinking.”

    From walking into the road DRUNK!  crossing between crosswalks.  It is patently unfair to pin all the deaths on “speeding cars”. 

    Some of the wrecks are the fault of the drivers, but a lot of this is bad decision making by pedestrians.  You just can’t keep pinning this on “bad” road design!

    Road design has a part to play in this.  But if pedestrians are going to walk into the road drunk, there is not a whole lot you can do about it.

  18. Anonymous

    6 years ago

    Of course no mention here of how many of those pedestrian deaths were the fault of the pedestrians.

    I live in Tampa Bay area for decades.  And in 8/10 of the deaths, the pedestrian was at fault.  http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/as-one-woman-knows-drivers-are-also-victims-in-pedestrian-involved/1165959

    Quote:  “In 2009 — the latest available year for statewide pedestrian accident statistics — the state said 482 people died trying to cross Florida’s roads. The statistics show that 232 of them — 48 percent — weren’t using a crosswalk.
    Florida doesn’t keep track of how many pedestrians were at fault when they died. But the state does track one of the most important factors in pedestrian deaths: alcohol use.
    The state said that 40 percent — 195 out of 482 — of those who died on foot in 2009 had been drinking.”

    From walking into the road DRUNK!  crossing between crosswalks.  It is patently unfair to pin all the deaths on “speeding cars”. 

    Some of the wrecks are the fault of the drivers, but a lot of this is bad decision making by pedestrians.  You just can’t keep pinning this on “bad” road design!

    Road design has a part to play in this.  But if pedestrians are going to walk into the road drunk, there is not a whole lot you can do about it.

  19. Anonymous

    6 years ago

    Of course no mention here of how many of those pedestrian deaths were the fault of the pedestrians.

    I live in Tampa Bay area for decades.  And in 8/10 of the deaths, the pedestrian was at fault.  http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/as-one-woman-knows-drivers-are-also-victims-in-pedestrian-involved/1165959

    Quote:  “In 2009 — the latest available year for statewide pedestrian accident statistics — the state said 482 people died trying to cross Florida’s roads. The statistics show that 232 of them — 48 percent — weren’t using a crosswalk.
    Florida doesn’t keep track of how many pedestrians were at fault when they died. But the state does track one of the most important factors in pedestrian deaths: alcohol use.
    The state said that 40 percent — 195 out of 482 — of those who died on foot in 2009 had been drinking.”

    From walking into the road DRUNK!  crossing between crosswalks.  It is patently unfair to pin all the deaths on “speeding cars”. 

    Some of the wrecks are the fault of the drivers, but a lot of this is bad decision making by pedestrians.  You just can’t keep pinning this on “bad” road design!

    Road design has a part to play in this.  But if pedestrians are going to walk into the road drunk, there is not a whole lot you can do about it.

  20. Miss BB

    6 years ago

    I would love to now the 10 best cities for pedestrians.

    • Anonymous

      6 years ago

      Miss BB, look at the bottom of the list of the top 52 metros. The bottom 10 are the safest for walking (metros over 1 million.)

  21. Miss BB

    6 years ago

    I would love to know the 10 best cities.

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  28. Don

    6 years ago

    Data interesting – some of the most dangerous areas are also tourist-destinations.  Generally everyone is in more danger as a tourist – simply because we don’t know the streets and traffic patterns.  The data here includes the % of people who walk to work.  Can we get data on how many of the pedestrian accidents involved commuters, vs. tourists?