December 4, 2004

Walking More Dangerous Than Driving

Thanks to communities designed for vehicular traffic and not pedestrian safety, "walkers are far more likely to be killed in street accidents than are motorists, according to a report on pedestrian safety released yesterday," the Washington Post reports.

"The report found that in 2001, the last year all data were available, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled for walkers was 20.1, compared with 1.3 for car and truck travelers."

The "Mean Streets" report was conducted by the Surface Transportation Policy Project. Anne Canby, president of the organization, blamed roads designed solely for cars, lax traffic enforcement and traffic lights that are not timed for walkers.

"People have not accepted that walking is a legitimate form of transportation," she told the Post.

The report also showed that a dismal 1.3% of all federal transportation funds in Massachusetts were spent on pedestrian and bicycle porjects from 1998-2003.

"Streets designed with wide travel lanes and expansive intersections have been the norm or local zoning and parking requirements that don’t account for pedestrians and public transportation riders is too often standard practice. Private sector actors routinely design malls, shopping centers and housing for automobile access, without suitable facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists or transit users," according to the report's executive summary.

Associated Press notes that Salt Lake City, which was rated poorly for pedestrian safety in 2000, improved its walking environment -- with policies not only promoting safety, but walkability and an appealing outdoor environment.

Update: Boston was deemed the safest city for pedestrians among 50 major metropolitan areas with more than a million people, the Boston Business Journal notes, with a 3.8% improvement over the last decade.

1 comment:

  1. We should consider "Constitutional Inequity", as a legal means to to direct investments in pedestrian, mass transit and bicycling infrastructure. Automobiles and their infrastructure are an impediment to safe walking and bicycling. They establish and maintain a competitive advantage that disables even the most modern mass transit. No matter how road construction is funded, gas or other taxes or market-driven investment incentives, the car not only presents an impediment to the other modes of urban/suburban travel, in cities designed to accomodate only cars, cars are an impediment to their own practical functionality. If we don't invest in a wholistic transportation system, (including development that supports walking, bicycling and mass transit), we will not be able to maintain our presently imbalanced systems.