Walking while Black in Florida is a killer

SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER

hit and killed
STEVE DAVIS/SMART GROWTH AMERICA
Lack of crosswalks is a factor in the increased rates of death while walking.

From 2008-2017, Black people were 72 percent more likely to have been hit and killed by a driver than people of other races, according to a new report entitled “Dangerous by Design” issued by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. 

And Florida is the deadliest state in America for pedestrians. The report ranks U.S. metropolitan areas for the top 20 highest (worst) “Pedestrian Danger Index” ratings. Of the 20 worst metropolitan areas to walk in, nine are in the Sunshine State, with the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metroplex listed as the deadliest area in the country for pedestrians.

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach is No.2 on the list; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville is No. 3; North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, No. 4; Lake
land-Winter Haven, No. 5; Jacksonville, No. 6; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, No. 8; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, No. 9; and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, No. 14.

The 20 states with the highest Pedestrian Danger Index ratings are Florida, Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, Nevada, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, and Kentucky.

The report also concludes that American Indians were three times as likely to be killed. Lower-income neighborhoods saw a higher share of pedestrian deaths.

Won’t stop for Blacks?

More dangerous roads are located near communities of color and implicit bias may play a role in the increased danger, according to the study. Research by the University of Nevada has shown that drivers are significantly more likely to yield to a White pedestrian in a crosswalk than to a Black pedestrian.

“Too often, danger is built right into our nation’s streets, especially in communities with large elderly populations and people of color,” said Nancy Somerville, the executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

“Strong policies are needed that will allow landscape architects to continue to put good street design to work to reduce unnecessary risks and make sure our transportation systems equitably serve all Americans. As cities begin the process of rebuilding and reimagining our decaying urban infrastructure, pedestrian safety must be among our highest priorities.”

Thousands dead

Over the past decade (2008-2017), the number of people struck and killed by drivers nationwide while walking increased 35 percent, even as overall traffic fatalities have been trending downward. In fact, 2016 and 2017, the most recent years with available data, were the two highest years for pedestrian deaths since 1990. During the ten-year period, 49,340 people were hit and killed by drivers, an equivalent of 13 people a day.

“We are killing an airliner’s worth of people walking each and every month, and these numbers are only increasing,” explained Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. “This is a wake-up call for all of us.

“No one should have to risk their life just to cross the street, yet that’s exactly what thousands of people have to do just to get around each day. The good news is that we have the tools and know-how to fix this, but until we truly prioritize the safety of the most vulnerable people who use our streets, we will continue to see this preventable epidemic continue.”

Few crosswalks, wide lanes

Many places still lack the most basic safe infrastructure for walking. For example, crosswalks, if they do exist at all, are often spaced so far apart as to be impractical, or don’t provide enough time for older adults to safely cross. Unnecessarily wide lanes encourage high speeds ‒ a major factor in the likelihood of surviving a collision ‒ and many streets are designed with wide turning lanes that allow cars to make right turns through crosswalks at high speeds.

The report calls on states, localities, and the federal government to make improving pedestrian safety an urgent priority and identifies 10 actions that can save lives. Smart Growth America is asking the public to sign a petition for elected officials.

The authors urge Congress to adopt a strong, federal “Complete Streets” policy that requires state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to plan for all people who use the street, including the most vulnerable users. Federal transportation funding that is up for reauthorization next year will have a major impact on whether this public health epidemic is addressed or allowed to continue unabated.

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Read the full report and get more info at http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerousby-design

2 COMMENTS

  1. In the paragraph about blacks crossing the street, they suggested it could be, “implicit bias.” Implicit means, indirect. Some racist white drivers use their vehicles especially pickups to intentionally bully blacks wow they are trying to cross the street. Last year there was an incident where a white man in a pickup went off the road to hit a young black girl, then got back onto the road and was seen, followed and reported by a white woman.

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