Tampa Bay becomes the eighth-deadliest metro area to walk in America

Florida is becoming even more dangerous for pedestrians, making it the most dangerous place to walk in the United States. Florida, also known as the Sunshine State, has seven out of the top 10 metro areas that are dangerous for pedestrians. The Tampa Bay area is ranked as the eighth deadliest. The advocacy group Smart Growth America has released a report called Dangerous By Design, which highlights some concerning news, including this disturbing achievement.

Dangerous By Design examines the number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people on average (3.1 in Tampa Bay). However, the “Pedestrian Danger Index” takes into account the percentage of people who walk to work, so the statistics can be compared between different states and metropolitan areas. Florida’s Pedestrian Danger Index, which was already the worst, has increased by over 10% in the last two years. The situation is more severe compared to other states in the Sun Belt region, and it’s not solely due to the weather. The issue is mainly related to urban sprawl and roads that prioritize speed over pedestrian safety.

From 2010 to 2019, there were 53,435 people who were hit and killed by drivers in the United States. In the last ten years, the number of pedestrian deaths each year has increased by 45 percent. This is both a matter of civil rights and safety. Black pedestrians and older pedestrians have much higher death rates. Additionally, pedestrians in lower-income areas also face higher risks.

The study found that African-American pedestrians face a 67% higher risk than white pedestrians across the country. According to a study from Las Vegas, when the last report was released in 2019, it was found that drivers were more likely to let a white woman cross the road in a crosswalk compared to a Black woman. People who walk in lower-income neighborhoods are almost three times more likely to die compared to those who walk in well-to-do neighborhoods. People who are between 50 and 64 years old have a greater risk, and for those who are over 75, the risk is even higher.

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The report highlights Florida for both its positive aspects and its failure to solve the problem. According to Smart Growth America, in 2014, Florida adopted a policy called Complete Streets. However, the organization believes that the policy has not been successful in achieving its goal of saving lives. The statement suggests that although significant improvements may not be seen right away, progress should become noticeable at some point. However, Florida has become increasingly unsafe for pedestrians.

Even when designs are made with good intentions, they still have to deal with drivers who behave badly. One suggestion from the report: Install clearly visible pedestrian signals on busy roads to help slow down traffic and improve safety for pedestrians crossing the road. Recently, at a crosswalk on Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg, a pedestrian crossed the road after an SUV in the closest lane stopped. However, a driver in the inner lane who was driving fast suddenly noticed the flashing yellow signal too late. They quickly hit the brakes and came to a stop, causing a cloud of unpleasant-smelling smoke. A situation where traffic engineering did not succeed in preventing a near accident.

Simply put, improving road designs alone won’t solve the problem. However, the report suggests that roads designed with safety in mind, rather than speed, may help regulate themselves. Roads that have features like narrower lanes and crosswalk curbs that jut out into the roadway can help drivers slow down. This means that police won’t need to make as many stops to pull over speeding drivers.

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