Around the Country, Calls for Pedestrian Safety Grow Louder

The Dangerous by Design report on pedestrian fatalities from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership has been getting a lot of attention from the Streetsblog Network (and from the national press) this week. The data in the report gives advocates a powerful tool when talking to local officials about the need for safer streets.

In Chicago, the Active Transportation Alliance rallied at an intersection where a pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run last month to demand safer conditions in that city. Five Chicagoans have died in the last month after being hit by drivers.

From the Active Transportation Alliance blog:

4086732888_756d0b70e4.jpgA Chicago sidewalk near the spot where Martha Gonzalez was killed by a hit-and-run driver October 13. (Photo: Steven Vance of Steven Can Plan)
Active Trans and Center for Neighborhood Technology called on our leaders today to make streets safer for pedestrians. Transportation for America, a national campaign, released a national report that ranks Chicagoland 41st in a list of the 50 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the country for pedestrians.

We gathered at 18th and Halsted streets this morning with representatives from Chicago Police and the 25th Ward to talk about street design and the laws that make it easier for drivers to disregard pedestrians.

Martha Gonzalez was a victim of fatal crash at that intersection last month and it was powerful to have her family there.

Tell your senator to support HB43! This legislation would require drivers to STOP for pedestrians. These deaths are preventable and we have solutions that have proven effective in other communities. Call on your leaders to act now!

The report ranked Louisville, Kentucky, as the seventh most dangerous metro area with more than 1 million residents. Network member Broken Sidewalk notes that this is in spite of a relatively high rate of spending on pedestrian infrastructure:

If Louisville is spending among the most per person for pedestrian improvements but still ranks among the worst metro areas for safety, then we’re either not putting our money in the right places or there’s a more fundamental problem that must be addressed.

I’m not going to try and diagnose these problems right now, but I would be willing to guess that addressing speed will be a key factor. Dangerous by Design points out the alarming truth about a pedestrian’s survival rate when struck at various speeds. When hit at 20MPH, your chances of recovery are good at 95 percent.  As speed increases, survival rate drops rapidly.  At 30MPH, the rate stands at 55 percent and at 40MPH your chances of survival are only 15 percent. Considering so many of Louisville’s arterials have a posted speed limit of 45 (or sometimes more) miles per hour, it’s no wonder that so many pedestrian deaths occur on arterial roads.

Among the many other network blogs covering the report are Bike Delaware News, Discovering Urbanism and Greater City Providence.