959 Pedestrians Were Killed in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2012

A new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition names Philadelphia the 34th-most dangerous city in the United States for pedestrians.



Think Philadelphia is a safe city for pedestrians? We have a fairly poor track record compared to other big cities in the Northeast. According to a new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition, the only other city near Philadelphia that’s more dangerous for walkers is Baltimore. Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York and Pittsburgh are all safer for pedestrians than Philly. Pittsburgh! Generally they’re only better than us at sports.

(Of 51 “large metro areas” ranked, Philadelphia could also be labeled the 18th-safest.)

From 2003 to 2012, 959 pedestrians were killed in Philadelphia. Nationwide, 47,025 pedestrians were killed and 676,000 were injured. The four most-dangerous cities for pedestrians were in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami (in order). The report calculates cities by their Pedestrian Danger Index, “the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the number of people who walk to work in the region.” During the timeframe measured by the study, 19.2 percent of traffic fatalities in Philadelphia were of pedestrians. Overall, Pennsylvania has 1.59 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people.

The NCSC, founded in 2005 by the AARP and design advocacy groups, is hoping the report can help spur passage of the National Safe Streets Act, which would force communities to design “complete streets” when building roads with federal funds. Complete streets are ones that are designed to safely accommodate everyone regardless of mode of transport — cars, legs, bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, roller skates, Segways, razor scooters, pogo sticks, those sneakers with the wheels in them I guess, etc. The 2011 report led  Florida to create the Bicycle/Pedestrian Focused Initiative, in an attempt to lower pedestrian fatalities.

CityLab’s Sarah Goodyear, a perfect name for this story, reports the sure-fire way to lower traffic fatalities is to slow cars down, a politically unpalatable option. Drivers can’t get to their destination 10 minutes later!

‘Dangerous by Design’ Report (PDF)

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  • JL

    Sure, there are careless drivers who hit people but it often takes two to tango. I drive often in Philly and am always amazed by the zombies walking around who will step into a street and cross it without ever looking around to see if a car is approaching (often at night while wearing dark clothing, and coupled with dark skin that can make a person very difficult to see). Mothers very often cross streets carelessly without looking while pushing baby strollers. It’s like “if the blinking sign says I can cross then I don’t need to look for myself.” If the driver does not see the pedestrian, at least the pedestrian could be able to see a car coming but that side of the equation is often gone because the pedestrian is often in his or her own zombie world or assumes the night driver can see them. I always learned to look both ways before crossing a street. I guess others never learned that. Maybe the schools should teach it since the parents apparently don’t. And the bicyclists are often psycho road radicals who think they own the road and that we must lay down before them and worship, since they have sacrificed all to reduce their “carbon footprint.” When you ride well into the flow of traffic, especially without a blinking light, you can expect to get clipped one day.

  • JJ

    Didn’t you know . . . All Philadelphians are special people. And by special I mean they all believe they don’t need to follow rules of law, rules of courtesy or rules of the road. Why make a right from the right lane when you can do it from the center lane? Why cross at the corner where there is a traffic light when you can run across the street in the middle of traffic? Why put your trash in sealed plastic bags when you can put open paper bags on the curb that rip and break when the trash people pick them up? Why play your car radio so you can hear it and not everyone has to hear it? Why throw your trash in a trash can instead of leaving it anywhere you feel like? Why, because you are a special Philadelphian. And by that I mean you don’t care about anyone but you.

  • barrygster

    I think if you could remove the Boulevard our pedestrian safety probably looks a whole lot better.

    That said, jaywalking really is an epidemic in this city.

  • Poytszi

    A conservative neighbor of mine commented, “What are those people doing in the street? Of course, they are gonna get hit!”. Rush L. would be proud of the answer. Too sad….


    Whether it be a driver, passenger or pedestrian the roads are just not safe. You can not stop the driver who blows through the stop signs, drunk driver or the law breaker who decides to leave the scene. My daughter was struck and killed by an SUV. I have set up a petition to save your family and friends with todays technology. We have to speak for all those voices that will continue to be silenced too early! It could be one of your loved ones we save…. PLEASE read, sign and share as we can put an end to these preventable deaths! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/621/736/836/require-accident-prevention-sensors-for-pedestrian-protection-road-safety/