Photo via John Pastor on Flickr.
The city of Orlando's most famous attraction is built around a fully pedestrianized Main Street. But that sort of idyllic stroll remains as much a fantasy as Cinderella's castle in the city proper, which once again ranked as the most dangerous place for pedestrians in the United States.
A new report from the safe streets advocacy groups Smart Growth America and National Complete Streets Coalition dubbed "Dangerous by Design
" found that the Orlando metro area was once again the most deadly city for pedestrians. Though the outlook changed somewhat — in fact, Orlando was one of the most-improved metros via their methodology — that wasn't enough to keep the city from winning the dubious honor for a second straight year.
Orlando also won out as the most dangerous metro area to walk around for the last decade. The city came out on top thanks to a rate of three pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people between 2010 and 2019. When held up to the rate of trips made on foot, it became clear that nowhere else was walking so risky a proposition. The report showed Orlando just barely eking out the unfortunate title over Bakersfield, California.
In addition, the state of Florida was found to be the most dangerous place to walk. Looking at the decade-spanning rankings. 5,893 pedestrians were struck and killed between 2010 and 2019. That's the second-largest raw total of pedestrian deaths in the United States. Florida fell behind California, where a little over 7,800 pedestrians were killed in the last decade. However, California's population is nearly double that of Florida and the amount of people who walk regularly while going about their day is higher.
The decade-long ranking of metro areas deadliness was unfortunately Florida-centric. Seven out of the top 10 metros were in Florida. The entire I-4 corridor was well-represented. Daytona Beach (5), Tampa (8) and Lakeland (9) were all prominently featured in the report.
While pedestrian death data for the last year is not yet available, the report noted that overall traffic fatality rates saw a troubling spike in the early months of the pandemic. As rates of driving went down, incidences of speeding and fatal accidents rose. Between April and June of last year, the fatality rate increased by 32 percent to hit its highest level in 15 years, the report claims citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Overall, the report shared a bleak outlook for pedestrians in the U.S., pitching a "rip it up and start again" philosophy.
“Our current approach to safety should be judged on the merits; and by any measure, it has been a complete failure,” said Beth Osborne, transportation director for Smart Growth America. “While transportation agencies have done much to avoid doing so, we urgently need to change the way we design and build roads to prioritize safety, not speed, as we currently do.”
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