Where are pedestrians safe in America? This question was the topic of a new study published this month by the National Complete Streets Coalition at Smart Growth America — an organization that emphasizes and promotes neighborhood safety. The answer? Not in Texas.
The results are in, and Houston ranks the seventh most dangerous city in the entire United States for foot commuters. Texas came in as the 10 th most dangerous state. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the years between 2003 and 2012 the state saw close to 4,200 pedestrian deaths — about 10 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the United States during that era.
The data revealed another interesting fact. Although traffic fatalities overall in the U.S. have decreased in the last few years, pedestrian deaths are on the rise. In fact, 15 percent of all traffic victims in 2012 were pedestrians. Over the last ten years, 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States — 16 times the number of people killed by natural disasters in that time period.
The National Complete Streets Coalition uses a particular calculation to determine a city's "Pedestrian Danger Index" (PDI). This number accounts for fatality statistics and census data regarding foot commuters. The national average PDI is 52.2. The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown region scored over twice the national average, at 119.64.
City analysts attribute the high pedestrian danger rate in Houston to a number of causal factors, including the way the city's streets are designed and a recent citywide emphasis on toll roads over foot commuter safety. A spokesman from the Texas Department of Transportation said that the agency is working to take steps to reduce the danger for pedestrians in the state.
Read more about the coalition's original report and the measures being taken by various organizations to promote commuter safety in this article by the Texas Tribune.