Long-time Dallas residents understand the hazards of trying to get around town on foot, but newcomers might not realize the dangers. Now the Dallas Morning News has reported that the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is in the top-ten most dangerous locations for pedestrians. Here are excerpts from the article:
Walking, one of the healthiest forms of exercise could be one of the riskiest for Dallas-Fort Worth-area residents. The area was listed as the nation’s 10th most dangerous for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America, a national nonprofit campaign to improve transportation safety.
In Dallas, 16 pedestrians have been killed this year, four fewer than the 20 killed in 2010 and only one more than the 15 who died in 2009.
The only other Texas locale that outranked D-FW in pedestrian danger was the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area, which placed ninth out of 52 metro areas on the group’s Pedestrian Danger Index. The Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla., area ranked first.
Researchers used 10 years of pedestrian fatality data and census figures to make their calculations, relative to the amount of walking in a given area.
Most pedestrian accidents occur on the weekends, between 8 p.m. and midnight, and alcohol is involved in 48 percent of pedestrian fatalities, according the National Highway Traffic Administration. Pedestrians are often the cause, police say.
“At least half of our pedestrian accidents are the pedestrians’ fault,” said Dallas police Lt. Scott Bratcher. “Even if technically they have right of way that doesn’t mean you can just step out into the middle of the street.”
Because many of the fatalities occur at night, police say pedestrians who are out after dark need to be especially careful.
“When you get away from an intersection, it can be really dark and most of the time you can’t see someone walking,” Bratcher said. “If you’re on foot, you need to not be in the roadway, and be on the sidewalk.”
One possible solution is something called “Complete Streets.” The idea calls for other forms of transportation to be given room alongside typical car lanes, such as the addition of bicycle lanes and expanding sidewalks to better accommodate and protect pedestrians.
“We can make roads safer for not only pedestrians and bicyclists but vehicles as well by building a road that serves all travelers,” Fort Worth senior planner Julia McCleeary said. “We build roads now to move the most vehicular traffic as possible. That leaves out the possibility of bicycle and pedestrian trips, forcing everyone into their cars.”
Dallas’ Public Works Department has similar plans for updating local roads to comply with the Complete Street concept, including bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks as well as making roads more accessible for public transportation, said Elizabeth Ramirez, a Dallas traffic engineer.
The nation’s 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians:
- Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.
- Jacksonville, FL
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.
- Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
- Memphis, TN-MS-AR
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington
Source: Transportation for America