Warning: walking in South Florida may be dangerous, as if you already weren't aware. According to a new report by transportation reform group Transportation for America
, the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach metro area is the third most dangerous city for pedestrians in the entire county, and Florida cities dominate the list. Orlando came in 1st, followed by Tampa at second, and even Jacksonville placed 4th.
The study found that in South Florida 178 pedestrians died in 2007, and 151 died in 2008. While only 1.7 percent of our population walks to work, pedestrian deaths accounted for 22.5 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.
The rankings are based on the Pedestrian Danger Index which computes "the
rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the amount of
walking residents do on average." Miami has a PDI of 181.2. Though the New York City metro area has more pedestrian deaths overall, much more of their population walks to work, and in comparison their PDI was only 28.1, one of the lowest among the nation's 52 major metro areas.
Transportation for America blames many of the deaths on poor design and suburban sprawl.
Over the last several decades, most of the business of daily life has shifted from Main Streets to state highways that have grown wider and wider over time. These arterial roads, as they are called, have drawn shopping centers, drive-throughs, apartment complexes and office parks. However, the pressure to move as many cars through these areas as quickly as possible has led transportation departments to squeeze in as many lanes as they can, while designing out sidewalks, crosswalks and crossing signals, on-street parking, and even street trees in order to remove impediments to speeding traffic.
Those kind of developments unsurprisingly lead to more dangerous conditions for pedestrians. While South Florida has its share of pedestrian friendly areas that are designed with walking in mind, those account for relatively little of our overall development.