November 11, 2009 – San Diego has been named one of the most dangerous cities to walk in, according a national survey released Tuesday by the group Transportation for America.
The report, Dangerous By Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), ranks the 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians. New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles were in the top three, while America’s Finest City was listed tenth. The study showed the high number of pedestrian deaths in each city.
The 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians in 2007-2008 were Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Houston; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta.
The three safest cities were Seattle; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The authors compiled the list after gathering data from all 360 metropolitan areas in the United States. The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership sorted the data using the Pedestrian Danger Index, an equation that takes a metropolitan area’s population and divides it by the number of fatalities in that area.
Orlando came out on top with 2.9 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents. That’s despite the fact just 1.3 percent of the area’s residents walk to work, the report notes.
Many of the deaths occurred on streets that have few provisions for pedestrians, cyclists or those in wheelchairs. According to the report, of the 9,168 pedestrian fatalities in 2007-2008 where the location of the accident is known, more than 40 percent were killed in a spot where there was no crosswalk.
The report notes that only one in 10 pedestrian deaths occurred in a crosswalk. Sixty percent occurred on an arterial road where the speed limit was 40 mph or higher.
In San Diego, many pedestrians do whatever they can to cross local streets safely. In a 12-month period beginning in 2007, 113 people were killed.
The problem is the built-in environment; it’s built not for walking, but for cars,” said Ken Grimes of Walk San Diego, a pedestrian advocacy group.
Grimes said 5th Avenue and A Street in downtown San Diego is not safe because it is near a freeway entrance. He said many pedestrians have been struck there.
Another downtown intersection, 2nd Avenue and Cedar Street, is one of the most dangerous areas for pedestrians, Grimes said, because the freeway ends and there are several confusing signs.
On the positive side, 5th Avenue and University Avenue in Hillcrest is considered safe because of the voice countdown and the zebra-striped crosswalk.
On La Jolla Boulevard, turnabouts have slowed traffic down and have helped keep pedestrians safer. The traffic measures have helped nearby business owners as well.
Grimes said considering pedestrians during planning projects, widening sidewalks and adding more zebra-striped crosswalks would make all streets more pedestrian-friendly.
Walk San Diego said El Cajon Boulevard is dangerous for pedestrians because of the high-speed traffic.
The group also cited the UTC area, San Ysidro (near the border) and Rosecrans and Midway in the Point Loma area as dangerous areas.