Thursday, June 02, 2011


David Levinson points us to this report on pedestrian traffic mishaps.  The report is timely.  There are 47,000 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. each year.  This comparison caught my eye:

"Canada and Australia, both developed countries with a similar infrastructure to the U.S., have pedestrian fatality rates of 1.1 and 0.9 per 100,000, respectively, compared to 1.6 for the U.S."

I walk every day (and I live in LA and I live in a seemingly pedestrian-friendly neighborhood) and it's pretty clear that many motorists have no interest in ceding righ-of-way to pedestrians. It's also apparent that law enforcement when it comes to auto traffic in my neighborhood is spotty and pretty lax.

Oddly, the report says nothing about this, preferring design "solutions".  There are many "good ideas", although there is not a lot of attention to trade-offs.  Taking lanes away from traffic and making streets more bike- and people-friendly is nice, but never free.  There is also the standard objection that summarizing pedestrian-safety and pedestrian-friendliness by metro area is almost useless.  Variations within metro areas are vast when it comes to these conditions. I was unable to eyeball any correlation between the report's "Pedestrian danger index" and "Percent of traffic deaths that were pdestrian."  Such are the problems of indices applied to very large and varied places.

Nevertheless, the report is useful.  Walking is a good thing and "walkable" enclaves do exist that can be made much safer by even moderate enforcement of laws that are already on the books.  More civility would also be nice.


Alex Tabarrok kindly sent me the correction that the 47,000 deaths refers to a whole decade.  That does change things.  My error and thanks, Alex!