If You Are a Pedestrian, You Don't Want to Live in Florida

CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter/ Road closed

Everybody is still talking about MA370 and the 239 people on board, but imagine 200 of them. That's about 47,025, or how many pedestrians were killed by cars in the last ten years. 676,000 more were injured. Not only that, the old, the poor and kids are disproportionately represented in the carnage. And like so much that we talk about on TreeHugger, it's all about design.

A new report, Dangerous by Design, has just been released by the National Complete Streets Coalition that looks at where these deaths are happening and why. The highest rates of death happen in the south, and the top four pedestrian murder cities are Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami. All of the top ten are sunbelt states. Orlando's PDI (Pedestrian Danger Index) is four times the national average. The study looks at the reasons:

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.
pedestrian danger

© Pedestrian Danger Index relative to walking rates by race and age, 2009

There are good reasons why the victims are generally older, poorer or minorities; they are less likely to own cars and have to walk more. With more and more young people walking and cycling instead of driving, and more boomers hanging up their keys, it's just going to get worse. Florida is a particularly interesting case; as Sidney Brownstone of Fast Company notes, " It was only 2011 when the state’s Tea Party contingent started a campaign to deny smart growth planning principles in some areas, based on the idea that the inspiration for them was some kind of United Nations conspiracy"- Agenda 21.

Speed Kills

The study notes that suburban arterial roads have become our main streets, and they have been designed with the car in mind, with multiple lanes that are hard to cross for older, slower people and traffic moving at high speed.

Vehicle speed is a major factor in all types of crashes and has especially serious consequences for people on foot. Where the posted speed limit was recorded, 61.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities were on roads with a speed limit of 40 mph or higher. This figure compares to just 9 percent of fatalities that occurred on roads with speed limits less than 30 mph.

The key is to design streets properly to accommodate everyone, not just cars. You can't just reduce the speed limits; As Ruben Anderson pointed out recently, you can't expect people to drive at 30 on a road designed for 50; it's just not human nature. " These drivers are behaving perfectly normally for the system. If you wanted people to drive 30, then YOU FAILED. The people are not broken, YOUR SYSTEM IS BROKEN."

U.S. pedestrian fatalities, 2003–2012

© U.S. pedestrian fatalities, 2003–2012

The system is indeed broken. Follow the money:

Of the 45,284 pedestrian deaths from 2003– 2012 for which roadway classification information was collected, almost 68 percent occurred on federal-aid roadways—roads that follow federal guidelines or oversight and that are eligible to receive federal funds. Yet, from 2009 to 2013, less than one-half of one percent of all available federal safety related funds was obligated to projects that improve safety for people walking. At the same time, pedestrian deaths were on the rise, hitting a five-year high in 2012 when more than 4,700 people were killed while walking.

13 people died because of a key fob design flaw. 4700 people died, in many cases, because of road design flaws. Where's the outrage at that?

read the report : Dangerous By Design and have a look at their interactive map that shows where everyone got killed.