And You Think Bicycling Is Dangerous?

Want to die in traffic?

Go for a walk.

Here’s a list of the top ten cities for pedestrian fatalities/injuries (with my knee-jerk observations):

1. Orlando: Big, wide traffic sewers and a critical mass of old folks behind the wheel.
2. Tampa: Ditto.
3. Jacksonville: Ditto.
4. Miami: Ditto.
5. Riverside, Calif.: A sea of asphalt — multi-lane roads and parking lots.
6. Las Vegas: What role does alcohol play here?
7. Memphis: Hmmmmmm…
8. Phoenix: Old folks and traffic sewers.
9. Houston: Concrete as far as the eye can see.
10. Dallas: The flyovers are stacked so high that some of them appear taller than the buildings.

Want to live?

Ride a bicycle — even in those 10 cities.

Here’s the part of the USA Today article that really interests me:

Other findings include:

• African Americans suffer a pedestrian death rate of 2.39 per 100,000 people — more than 70% higher than the rate for non-Hispanic whites (1.38).

• Hispanics ages 65 and older have a fatality rate twice that of African Americans, and 173% higher than for non-Hispanic whites.

• Hispanic children die in pedestrian accidents 40% more often than non-Hispanic white children.

Those are racial/ethnic statistics, but I’m willing to bet they are also socio-economic statistics, i.e. the poor are over-represented because they have fewer transportation choices.

So, yes, there is a civil rights argument to be made for making our streets safer places for all citizens — no matter what transportation choices they choose to make or are forced to make.

Interesting and related from Commute Orlando: Driving, Developmentally, Turns Us Into Children.

Further reading:

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Comments 6

  1. Robert wrote:


    Having just spent 15 days in Arizona, including several days in Phoenix I’m not sure I understand why their pedestrian rate would be higher. They have great pedestrian infrastructure there, in fact, I would say that Arizona has the best of any State that I’ve been in.

    In every City and small town there is rarely a stretch of road without a sidewalk and the crossings are usually well engineered and plentiful.

    Particuarly impressive is their school zones. In Arizona, they have 15 MPH school zones with crossing guards being mandated by the State DOT or City (in Phoenix’s case) at every “school crosswalk.” They also have a couple of other features including Arizona specific pedestrian signage in the middle of the crosswalk (several per crosswalk) and yellow crosswalks. I spent about an hour with a radar gun shooting cars at eight different locations in Arizona and rarley saw anyone enter those areas above the 15 MPH. It was unreal coming from Missouri where school crossings are usually barely marked and motorists routinely exceed the limit.

    Pretty impressive! In Tucson, they have about 60 HAWK pedestrian lights (google it) that seem to be working really well.

    Some features in Phoenix that *might* be contributing is a minimum 3′ sidewalk design width (which I never actually saw) and mountable curbs on residential streets. I doubt, that either of those two things are contributing.

    In case anyone wonders, I worked in several Phoenix neighborhoods from rich to poor.

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 7:33 pm
  2. Robert wrote:

    An hour per school with the radar gun….not combined.

    Glad you’re back home, Andy!

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 7:35 pm
  3. Steve A wrote:

    I’m surprised that USA Today would print such a report without doing at least some checking into the organization that released it. The first indicator – when you go to their site, you can’t really find out anything about the organization or how it’s getting funded. The second indicator – it sounds like a partisan agenda in news releases. The third indicator – it uses data that is inherently either biased (FARS) or unreliable (census).

    The data might be telling a true story, but it doesn’t look like high enough quality research to dissect it.

    A far more interesting study was the one an Arizona bicycle coordinator did examining why all these studies tend to show it is incredibly dangerous to bike (or walk) in the sun belt. The conclusion – it really ISN’T overall.

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 7:59 pm
  4. Robert wrote:

    Steve, what is that study? Can you share it?

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 8:18 pm
  5. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert and Steve… I’d be interested in the veracity of the study, too. I didn’t look into it largely because I was using the list as fodder to make another point, i.e. the whole civil rights thing.

    Robert… Cool, re: your observations. You’ll note that I qualified my “observations as “knee-jerk” 🙂

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 8:33 pm
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… re: surprised Don’t be. Journalists are suckers for a “trend” story. To actually check it out might ruin the story 🙂

    Posted 25 May 2011 at 8:34 pm