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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cleveland is One of the Safest Cities for Pedestrians

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 3:31 PM

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The mean streets of Cleveland aren't so mean according to a new report from Transportation for America. "Dangerous by Design" catalogs and ranks pedestrian safety numbers from across the nation for the last decade, a report the group emphasizes is necessary because of the 47,000 pedestrians killed and 688,000 injured by cars since 2000. They note that "despite the fact that pedestrians account for 12 percent of all road fatalities, pedestrian safety only gets 1.5 percent of safety funding."

Cleveland, out of 52 metro areas, ranked second best, with 139 fatalities over the decade. Other numbers for the Forest City walkers:1.1 average annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people, 2.2% walk to work, and a 29.1 Pedestrian Danger Index, the fancy metric they used to rank cities. (Boston was the best, Orlando the worst.)

Here's the nut of the story:

T4America’s analysis of the national traffic safety database reveals that more than 52 percent of pedestrian deaths happen on arterial roads designed to accommodate many cars on many lanes at high speeds, with little to no accommodation for people on foot. Those roads often lack sidewalks, crosswalks, and medians for safe pedestrian crossings. “All too often, the consequences of this lack of basic infrastructure are fatal,” the authors note. “Of the 40,037 pedestrian fatalities for which the location of the collision was known, more than 40 percent were killed where no crosswalk was available.”

People with few transportation options are especially vulnerable. Low-income people and people of color are disproportionately victims of traffic fatalities while on foot. Children too young to drive are also at risk: “Pedestrian injury is the third leading cause of death by unintentional injury for children 15 and younger, according to CDC mortality data,” Ernst writes. “Nearly 3,900 children 15 years and younger were killed while walking from 2000 through 2007, representing between 25 and 30 percent of all traffic deaths.”

Seniors are nearly twice as likely to be killed while walking as people under 65, the report goes on to say. The higher rate is attributable to the fact that elderly people are more likely to die of their injuries and are more likely to “have physical impairments that decrease their ability to avoid oncoming traffic.” But it’s also an engineering flaw that puts them at greater risk: Older people can’t run across seven lanes of traffic in the time allowed by the crosswalk signal. Nearly two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers said in a survey that they do not consider the needs of older Americans in their planning.

So be thankful that A) No one walks in Cleveland, and B) When they do, we only have to navigate two-lane roads.

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