Jacksonville one of the most dangerous communities in the country for pedestrians

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Channel 4 reports in a study that was released this week which ranked the most dangerous areas in the country for pedestrians.  The study lists Jacksonville as one of the most deadly communities.

The study, Dangerous by Design 2014, points out that from 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people died while walking on streets in America ” 16 times the number of people killed in natural disasters during that time.The study was sponsored by Smart Growth America, a national organization that advocates for smart growth practices in communities around the nation.

What are the makeups of the pedestrian fatalities?  These tragic deaths are disproportionately born by older adults, people of color, and children. While just 12.6 percent of the total population, those over the age of 65 years old account for nearly 21 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide. Among people of color, blacks and African Americans suffer a pedestrian fatality 60 percent higher than non-Hispanic whites, and Hispanics of any race have a rate nearly 43 percent higher. And, for the most recent years that had data, 4,394 children aged 15 and younger were killed while walking. Pedestrian injury is the third leading cause of death for this age group

Dangerous by Design uses a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) to rank the most dangerous places for walking. The PDI indicates the relative likelihood a person on foot in a given area will be hit by a vehicle and killed.  Jacksonville’s PDI for 2008-2012 was 182.71 “ that ranked third in the nation behind Orlando-Kissimmee (244.28) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (190.13).  The top four most dangerous communities for pedestrians were all in Florida. No. 4 was Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (145.33).  The PDI is based on the most recent five years of pedestrian fatalities data and the percentage of local commuters who walk to work.

The Times Union, who also featured this study, interviewed Billy Hattaway, a transportation department secretary and one of the state’s leaders for bicycle and pedestrian safety.  Mr. Hattaway  said he hopes when the next report comes out in three years, Florida will have reduced its pedestrian deaths.  Florida got to be such a problem state for pedestrians, he said, because land was cheap, and governments wanted to accommodate drivers. A new school would be built in the middle of nowhere, and the children couldn’t be expected to walk there, so wide streets were built so that cars quickly could get there.   Cities like Jacksonville, he said, have to address particularly problematic stretches of roads by narrowing the roads, slowing the traffic and adding crosswalks.  Regardless of the roadway design,  drivers and pedestrians have to take responsibility for their actions.  For a driver,  getting to your destination safely and in a timely manner is important so you don’t sacrifice safety and the traffic laws.  For a pedestrian, that means respecting cars, swiftly walking across a street, and using a sidewalk or a crosswalk when available.  If sidewalks aren’t available,  pedestrians ought to walk on the side of the road facing toward oncoming traffic so they can see what the cars are doing.  When there isn’t a crosswalk, pedestrians ought to walk straight and fast across the street.

Click here to read the entire study: http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/

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