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Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

Rochester ranks better than most large metropolitan areas in protecting pedestrians, according to a new report by Smart Growth America. The report, called “Dangerous by Design,” computes a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) by looking at deaths and percentage of people who walk to work.

Sunbelt cities perform the worst on in the study: Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Memphis, Birmingham, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte. These cities boomed post-war and were built around cars.

Rochester ranks 43rd out of 51 areas. We had 121 pedestrian deaths between 2003 and 2012 and a PDI of 33.97. That puts us below the national average of 1.56 deaths per 100,000 people and a PDI of 52.2.

Rochester does slightly worse when ranked by percentage of all traffic fatalities that were pedestrians. Of all traffic deaths in Rochester, 13.8 percent were pedestrians. On this measurement, we come out in 37th place out of 51 metros.

Here’s a summary of Smart Growth’s overall findings:

From 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people were killed while walking – sixteen times the number of people who died in natural disasters, but without the corresponding level of urgency. And estimated 676,000 people were injured during this time period.

While pedestrian deaths are labeled “accidents,” the data reviewed here indicate we can prevent the majority of them by taking deliberate steps, through better policy, design, practice and regulation—just as we have done with vehicular deaths. The majority of pedestrian deaths occur on arterial roadways, planned and engineered for speeding automobiles with little consideration for the diversity of people—young, old, with and without disabilities, walking and bicycling—who rely on these streets to get them from point A to point B.

The urgent need to act is compounded by projected demographic changes. The nation’s older population will nearly double in size in the next 30 years. The number of racial and ethnic minorities is also projected to grow significantly. These groups, along with children, are disproportionately represented in pedestrian deaths.

Sweden has an interesting approach to pedestrian safety. They have a law mandating zero pedestrian deaths. A Swedish transportation official said to the New York Times, “You should be able to make mistakes without being punished by death.”

Achieving zero pedestrian deaths would require major cultural mindset change. In the meantime, we can continue to wave flags at drivers and hope they see us.


Links of the Day:


– Here’s a new reason why the Bills won’t be moved out of Buffalo: The NFL doesn’t want pissed off politicians to scrutinize the league. “They’re like the old mafia.”

– A Democrat and Chronicle reporter suggested suburban sports teams adopt city sports teams. At first I thought this was really condescending. But then I thought this could have been written about academics, too. The fact is, many city children are not exposed to their suburban competition in sports or academics – and it shows on the field and in the classroom. I’m not sure this reporter has the right solution, but he made his point.

– “This is a Great Lake city bisected by a river, crossed by a canal and sporting an expansive and picturesque bay.”

– The questioning of Kathy Hochul’s independent streak, along with the suggestion that she should do as she’s told, really irks me.

– When employers share salary information, it ends up hurting workers.

– Have stories about your Rochester Irish ancestors? They could get a large audience this week on Twitter.

– An Armory Square restaurant accused another of stealing its recipes.


Census Notes:


The U.S. Census released city-level population data last week. Rochester’s population is holding somewhat steady, going from 210,565 in 2010 to 210,358 in 2013. Buffalo’s population went from 261,325 to 258,959. Syracuse declined from 145,196 to 144,669. For more on Monroe County data released in March, click here.

2 Responses to How Rochester Ranks on Pedestrian Deaths

  1. I get it, when I’m in a car it is annoying to wait for a pedestrian. It is also so easy to not see them (especially in the rain).

    But just last week I was almost run-over while crossing the street at the appropriate place along East Ave on my walk to work. The guy in the car just didn’t *THINK* anyone would be walking and never turned his head – just started driving right into me until I screamed.

    I think it’s an awareness thing. Nobody wants to run over a pedestrian. But sadly, as these numbers show, they do.

  2. Pingback: Pedestrian Deaths: Poor People at Greater Risk » The Rochesterian

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