Despite major strides made in recent years to reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents, Orlando and several other Florida metropolitan areas sit atop a list of the country’s “most dangerous places to walk” as compiled by the advocacy group, Smart Growth America.
According to the newly released “Dangerous by Design 2014” report put out by one of Smart Growth America’s initiatives, the National Complete Streets Coalition, the Orlando-Kissimmee region is No. 1 on its list of pedestrian danger areas, followed by the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach regions in Florida.
As the New York Times reports, this is not the first time that Orlando-Kissimmee has topped such a list, which ranks the 51 largest U.S. metropolitan areas according to their five-year “pedestrian danger index,” or PDI. The index is based on the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the number of people who walk to work in a region.
In the new report, the PDI numbers were based on the period between 2008 and 2012. The PDIs for the Florida cities atop the list were:
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach||145.33|
Memphis rounded out the top five with a PDI of 131.26. Boston, with a PDI of 18.65, sits at the bottom of the list, making it the “least dangerous place to walk” in the country. The national PDI, between 2003 and 2012, was 52.2.
The report points out that several Sun Belt communities are ranked high on its list.
“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,” the report states.
According to the report, the numbers nationally are cause for alarm. The report states that 47,025 people died while walking in the U.S. between 2003 and 2012 – meaning hit by cars – while 676,000 were injured. Since 2010, the total number of pedestrian accident deaths has risen, going from 4,280 in 2010 to 4,432 in 2011 to 4,743 in 2012.
Report Notes Pedestrian Safety Efforts in Central Florida and Statewide
The Dangerous by Design 2014 report isn’t all bad news. The authors note that Florida – Central Florida in particular – has made serious efforts to increase pedestrian safety since 2011, when the same four Florida metro areas topped its list. These efforts include:
- The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) adding pedestrian and bicycle safety specialists to its district and central offices
- The FDOT issuing a Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan in 2013, outlining ways to improve safety for walkers and cyclists in the state
- Twenty-six agencies within the state adopting “Complete Streets” policies since 2011
- The Best Foot Forward coalition in Central Florida setting a goal to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths by 50 percent in five years through a combination of:
o Engineering – Crosswalks have been improved, including 37 near schools
o Enforcement – In a single year, officers wrote 3,200 failure-to-yield warning tickets to drivers
o Education – An estimated 91,000 households in Orlando and Orange County have been exposed to efforts to improve pedestrian safety through TV, flyers and outreach to local schools and homeowner associations.
These efforts have caused the number of drivers who yield to pedestrians in Central Florida to rise to 48 percent (significant when compared to a 12 percent baseline figure), the report states.
As our law firm noted in a recent article, Winter Park has launched an initiative that is aimed at preventing both pedestrian and bicycle accidents.
Hopefully, we will soon see the results of these efforts and find ourselves much lower on the next list of “most dangerous places to walk” in America.