Walk at your own risk: 4 Texas cities rank among the most perilous for pedestrians
Texans have a lot to boast about, but this is not one of them. According to a recent study, the Lone Star State claims four of the top 25 most dangerous cities for pedestrians.
"Dangerous by Design 2014" is a study conducted by National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, with help from AARP, the American Society of Landscape Architects and America Walks. Researchers analyzed more than 47,000 pedestrian deaths across the country from 2003-2012 in the 50 largest metropolitan areas.
With so many metro areas ranking poorly, it should come as no surprise that Texas ranks No. 10 on the statewide Pedestrian Danger Index.
In order to compare the relative safety of one place to another, the report uses a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) that indicates the likelihood of a person on foot being hit by a vehicle and killed. The PDI is based on the share of local commuters who walk to work — the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out walking each day — and the most recent five years of data on pedestrian fatalities.
Houston ranks No. 7, Dallas-Fort Worth comes in at No. 12, San Antonio claims the No. 18 spot and Austin lands at No. 24. In DFW, there were 900 fatalities from 2003-2012, and 15.4 percent of those were pedestrians. The area's PDI is 107.24 — compared to a national PDI of 52.2.
With so many metro areas ranking poorly, it should come as no surprise that Texas ranks No. 10 on the statewide Pedestrian Danger Index. From 2003-2012, more than 34,000 Texans died in traffic accidents, the second most in the country. California came in first.
So who is most likely to fall victim to a traffic death? According to the study, adults over the age of 65 and people of color are most at risk.
The study shows traffic deaths among children are down, which researchers blame on another culprit. "This decline is often attributed to a general drop in physical activity," the study reads. "Though the drop in deaths is certainly a bright spot in our analysis, it is tempered by the corresponding rise in childhood obesity and associated chronic diseases related to lack of physical activity."
In order to curb this growing trend, the study suggests lowering speed limits, adding more responsive crossing signals and approaching future street design to benefit pedestrians first. To read the full study, head to Smart Growth America's website.