A recently released study by an agency for analyzing transportation policy found that the four most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the nation are Florida's four metropolitan areas. The very thin silver lining in this chalk outline in the crosswalk? Orlando and Tampa were both more deadly than Miami/Fort Lauderdale. Jacksonville came in third.
The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership found:
Orlando tops the list because of its high pedestrian fatality rate of 2.9 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, despite a very low proportion of residents walking to work, only 1.3 percent. In other words, the few people who do walk in Orlando face a relatively high risk of being killed by traffic.
The very same could be said of South Florida cities, where it seems rare for a day to pass without at least one report of a serious injury to a pedestrian.
Having lived in or visited the three cities ranked safest for pedestrians -- Seattle, Portland, and Minneapolis -- I'm struck by how those three cities all have far more pedestrians than you see in Florida. You would think that the sheer volume of pedestrians would increase the odds of a fatality, but maybe the exact opposite is true: When there are fewer pedestrians, maybe that makes drivers less conscious of them.
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Seattle, in particular, has a culture where one is made to feel guilty for driving. Pull into a crosswalk and you're liable to get about dozen versions of the stink eye from pedestrians. In Fort Lauderdale, a pedestrian is liable to be surprised when a driver observes the walker's right to the crosswalk.