A staffer at the National Resources Defense Council has written a blog post about pedestrian safety in big cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Honolulu. Around 10 percent of people in those cities walk to work. In Boston, at least 15 percent of people walk to work, over five times the national average.
What makes these statistics possible? The blog writer says that a compact downtown or business area with housing nearby, streets that connect with each other and a solid infrastructure for pedestrians are factors conducive to creating a walking city with relatively few pedestrian accidents. Having a strong safety record for pedestrians was another important reason that people in cities like these walked to work.
The relative safety of pedestrians in different cities was studied by the Alliance for Biking & Walking. This organization’s recent report, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2014 Benchmarking Report, compared 52 large cities in the United States, ranking by pedestrian deaths and the number of pedestrian commuters. The study found that the top five cities for commuting on foot were also in the top 10 cities for pedestrian safety.
Why? Is it because drivers are accustomed to pedestrians and watch out for them? Is the reason better infrastructure that encourages walking and prevents accidents? The blog writer thinks the reason is a little of both.
This post is the first in a two-part post about the Alliance for Biking & Walking report that studies the linkages between walking to work and pedestrian safety.
Source: Switchboard, “Pedestrian safety leads to more walking, or is it vice versa?” May 30, 2014.