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!