WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) -- More than 47,000 pedestrians were killed in America between 2003 and 2012. And a new study, compiled by Smart Growth America, suggests the majority of these deaths could have been avoided, had cities designed safer, more pedestrian-friendly streets.
"We are allowing an epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, brought on by streets designed for speed and not safety, to take nearly 5,000 lives a year; a number that increased six percent between 2011 and 2012," said Roger Millar, the director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, one of Smart Growth America's many initiatives.
The new report, "Dangerous By Design," ranks 51 of the most dangerous cities to walk in -- from worst to not-quite-as-bad. The four most dangerous cities for pedestrians are all in Florida, with Orlando leading the way, followed by Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami.
The rest of the South (with one representative from the Southwest) helps round out the top ten. Memphis, Phoenix, Houston, Birmingham, Atlanta and Charlotte are all especially unkind to those that travel by foot.
As the report points out, the most dangerous walking cities are all Sunbelt communities, cities whose populations ballooned following World War II, and that feature many low-density neighborhoods connected by wide, high-speed roads.
According to the report, older adults, people of color and children are all disproportionately affected by pedestrian fatalities.
The new report by the National Complete Streets Coalition doesn't just deliver the bad news and leave; it offers a way forward as well.
The coalition claims America's streets can be made safer and more pedestrian friendly via a number of policy changes, including: boosting federal funding for walking and bicycling projects; updating design policies and safety standards; allowing local governments more control over speed limits; among other recommendations.