(NEXSTAR) – A new study has found that three California cities rank in the top 10 for the highest average number of pedestrian fatalities – and those fatalities are part of a national trend that’s only growing. aggravate.
“While the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of daily life, including the way people move around, one terrible long-term trend has remained unchanged: the alarming increase in the number of people struck and killed while walking”, urban policy group Smart Growth America wrote in their report, Dangerous by Design 2022.
The number of pedestrian fatalities across the country hit a new high in 2020 — more than 6,500, or nearly 18 per day — according to the report, citing the latest available federal data. Once the data is released, annual deaths in 2021 could exceed 7,200, according to projections from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Where is California?
The Washington DC-based nonprofit found Bakersfield, in seventh place, to be the deadliest city in California for pedestrians with an average of 3.41 fatalities per 100,000 population per year.
Stockton was ninth with 3.35 deaths on average, and Fresno tenth, with 3.25 deaths.
Also in the top 50 deadliest cities were:
|Rank||Subway station||Avg. deaths/100K per year|
|14||Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||3.11|
|31||San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA||2.45|
|32||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||2.4|
|49||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||1.84|
The San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley metropolitan area landed in 56th place with an average of 1.61 deaths per year.
When it comes to California as a whole, the state also doesn’t fare very well when it comes to pedestrian safety. Tied for ninth with Georgia, California’s average death rate trails only Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, Delaware, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and New Mexico, respectively. .
An uneven record
The study found that, similar to previous years, those struck and killed by motor vehicles tended to be older and were more likely to walk in low-income neighborhoods.
“Although everyone is affected in some way by unsafe street design, this burden is not shared equally,” the authors said. “Despite other changes, the pandemic has perpetuated existing disparities in who is being killed at the highest rates: Blacks and Native Americans.”
The study attributes these disparities to the fact that low-income neighborhoods are less likely to have sidewalks, marked crosswalks, streets designed for lower speeds, and parks or other areas that provide safe spaces for recreational walking.
“Low-income neighborhoods are also much more likely to contain major thoroughfares built for high speeds and higher traffic volumes at intersections, making conditions worse for pedestrians,” according to the study.
What can be done?
The authors of Dangerous by Design say the number of fatalities continues to rise each year because our country’s streets and intersections are planned with driving efficiency in mind, not pedestrian safety.
“The result in 2020 was a significant increase in all road fatalities, even with less driving overall due to the pandemic,” according to the study.
While speed limit signs can provide periodic reminders to drive safely, the design of city roads can be far more influential, the group argues.
According to an example from the study, long, straight, multi-lane arteries built to allow maximum vehicles to get from one point to another are a recipe for higher speeds. Add rounded sidewalk corners to intersections and drivers will be able to turn off these arteries at top speed, potentially endangering pedestrians trying to cross the street.
A Texas A&M Study found that reducing the turning radius at an intersection from 30 feet to 10 feet would likely reduce crashes involving pedestrians by 30%.
The group calls on public developers prioritize safe street design as well as mixed land use – creating neighborhoods where work, restaurants, shopping, parks and other attractions are close by.
“To do this, they will need to untie the deeply ingrained, invisible but powerful emphasis on speed that is totally incompatible with safety,” the study says.