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Florida metro areas most dangerous in nation for pedestrians

9 Florida cities ranks among nation’s top 11 deadliest places to walk

New research shows people of color and older adults more likely to be struck and killed by a car while walking; lower-income areas correlated with more dangerous streets


If an infectious disease killed 5,142 people in Florida, wouldn’t our state and local leaders take action?

That’s the number of people who were struck and killed by cars while walking in Florida between 2005 and 2014. Shockingly, according to a new ranking out today, the top seven most dangerous places nationally for people walking are all in Florida.

Dangerous by Design 2016, the fourth edition of the landmark report from Smart Growth America, calculates a Pedestrian Danger Index, or PDI, for the 104 largest metro areas in the United States as well as all 50 states and the District of Columbia. PDI is a calculation of 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 data on pedestrian deaths.

Based on PDI, the 20 most dangerous metro areas for walking in the United States are:

2016 rank Metro area

2016 Pedestrian Danger Index

1 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL


2 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL


3 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL


4 Jacksonville, FL


5 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL


6 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL


7 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL


8 Jackson, MS


9 Memphis, TN-MS-AR


10 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL


11 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL


12 Bakersfield, CA


13 Birmingham-Hoover, AL


14 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR


15 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX


16 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ


17 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI


18 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA


19 Baton Rouge, LA


20 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX


Nine Florida cities with PDI scores ranging from 145 to 283 appear in the top eleven on this national list.

“Florida is facing an epidemic of deadly streets that unnecessarily costs the lives of thousands of our most vulnerable residents,” says Ryan Smart, president of 1000 Friends of Florida. “Safe streets are an essential element of good communities and important to all Floridians – from millennials deciding where to start a family to senior citizens looking for a place to retire. Our state must take action to prioritize the safety of pedestrians.”

“Walking should be a safe way for people to get around their communities,” says Thomas Hawkins, Policy and Planning Director for 1000 Friends. “Florida and its local governments need to focus on education, engineering and enforcement to address this problem. Design should respect the needs of people walking along and across streets; law enforcement agencies should protect people walking from dangerous drivers; and licensed drivers should be aware of traffic rules respecting walking.”

Who are the most vulnerable among these numbers? Nationally, people of color and older adults are overrepresented among pedestrian deaths. In Florida people over 65 account for 18% of the population and nearly 20% of pedestrian fatalities.

In addition, the new report finds that PDI is correlated with median household income as well as rates of uninsured individuals. Low-income metro areas are predictably more dangerous than higher-income ones: as median household incomes drop, PDIs rise. Similar trends bear out with rates of uninsured individuals: as rates of uninsured individuals rise, so do PDIs, meaning that the people who can least afford to be injured often live in the most dangerous places for walking.

“This country is facing an obesity epidemic,” said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, “and no one less than the U.S. Surgeon General has encouraged people to walk more address it. How can we realistically ask people to walk more when so many streets are so dangerous for pedestrians? It’s outrageous.”

Dangerous by Design 2016 notes that Florida tops the most dangerous list for the fourth consecutive time:

Florida has been the most dangerous state for walking since we first began tracking these numbers in 2009. This year’s analysis is no different: Florida has the highest PDI of any state, and is home to eight of the ten most dangerous metro areas in the nation.

State leaders have seen these sobering numbers and are taking action. In September 2014, four months after Dangerous by Design 2014 came out, the Florida Department of Transportation adopted a Complete Streets policy with the goal of reducing pedestrian deaths in the state. Not content to simply pass a policy, the agency has also taken decisive steps to put it into practice. In December 2015, the agency published its Complete Streets Implementation Plan, an ambitious and comprehensive commitment to change the way roads are designed and built in Florida to make them safer for all types of travelers.

The report also shows that while Florida’s statewide PDI declined overall by 5.8 points between 2011 and 2016, it increased by 8.4 points during the period between 2014 and 2016.  It notes that more than 70 Complete Street policies are in place across Florida, with some metro areas experiencing consistent decline in their PDIs since 2011, including  Miami-Fort Lauderdale (-22.8), and Orlando-Kissimmee (-20.7).

“Despite improvements in some individual metro areas it is clear much more remains to be done at both the state and local levels in Florida,” notes 1000 Friends’ Ryan Smart.  “Through its transportation policy initiatives and webinars, 1000 Friends remains committed to supporting the Florida Department of Transportation and local governments in developing and implementing effective complete streets initiatives.”

Download the full report to see the full rankings and analysis at smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design.

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The state’s leading not-for-profit smart growth advocacy organization, 1000 Friends of Florida is building better communities and saving special places in one of the fastest growing states in the nation. We promote vibrant, sustainable, walkable, livable communities which provide residents with affordable housing choices and transportation alternatives. We work to protect natural lands that cleanse and store fresh water needed for residents, agriculture and the environment, provide refuge for wildlife, and support abundant recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Above all, we strive to give citizens a meaningful role in shaping the futures of their communities and state. Founded in 1986, 1000 Friends of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. To find out more please visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org.

Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for, and leading coalitions to bring better development to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. For additional information, visit http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/completestreets.

The report is released in collaboration with AARP, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associated. See the full report for all partner organization information.

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