“Dangerous by Design” report documents vulnerable pedestrians

More than a third of the District’s traffic-related deaths between 2003 and 2012 were pedestrians, and older adults and people of color were disproportionately the victims in those crashes, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Complete Streets Coalition.

To prevent future deaths, jurisdictions must design better roads, the authors of the “Dangerous by Design 2014” urged. “We can build our roads to protect us while we’re walking,” said Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, which is part of Smart Growth America.

Suggestions for making streets safer for pedestrians included:
-slow traffic by reducing the number and width of travel lanes;
-shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by installing medians or adding bulb-outs at corners;
-Give pedestrians a head start crossing intersections before allowing cars to turn.

“Dangerous by Design” reported that 133 pedestrians were killed from 2003 through 2012 in the District and that certain groups were more vulnerable than others. For example, adults aged 65 and older made up 11.6% of the District population during the time period studied, but they represented 17.4 percent of traffic-related deaths.

The study also showed that black and Hispanic pedestrians in the District fared worse than those nationwide, while white pedestrians in the District were safer. The pedestrian fatality rate for black and African-American people was 3.6 per 100,000 people in the District, compared to 2.65 nationally. For Hispanic people of any race in the District, the pedestrian fatality rate was 3.74, compared to 2.37 nationally. But for non-Hispanic whites, the rate was 1.59 in the District, actually better than the 1.66 rate nationally for that group.

To download a copy of the full report or view the webinar, visit the Smart Growth America website. WAMU and several other news outlets reported on this story.