The Washington Post has a bombshell story today about the soaring rate of pedestrian deaths in the United States—but their look at data only tells part of the story for people in Philadelphia, where pedestrian deaths have been soaring at a greater rate than the national average.
The Post piece goes into the fact that between 2010 and 2015,
Pedestrian deaths soared by 25 percent during the period, far outpacing the 6 percent overall increase in traffic fatalities.
“Unfortunately, this latest data shows that the U.S. is not meeting the mark on keeping pedestrians safe on our roadways,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which detailed the pedestrian fatalities in a report released Thursday.
Pedestrians now account for 15 percent of all traffic deaths, according to the GHSA report.
While pedestrians account for 15 percent of all traffic deaths nationwide—an alarming statistic—what the Bicycle Coalition found in 2016 was particularly alarming.
In Philadelphia in 2016, the Bicycle Coalition’s tally found that nearly half of all traffic deaths were pedestrians—and pedestrians and bicyclists made up more than half of road deaths (47 percent for pedestrians; 53 percent for pedestrians and bicyclists).
The most vulnerable populations are being killed at rising rates nationally, but it’s actually worse in Philadelphia, where the city’s Vision Zero program is still in the works.
So, what can you do about this?
First off, make sure you’ve read Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Draft Action Plan and sent in comments.
The city also has a mapping tool you can use to point out places where you in the most danger while using city streets. Show them where you feel upgrades are needed.
Third, keep up with our blog. There are Vision Zero projects coming up that we need your help with—including a public meeting to discuss a protected bike lane on West Chestnut Street. We will have information available for those in attendance, and will let you know when and where it takes place.
Latest news on this jump in statistics is that both drivers and walkers text and utilize their modes of transportation while drunk. The tragic death of a number of bus passengers in Texas happened because of a pickup driver who was texting for so long that another driver reported his pickup weaving down the road and followed him for a long distance prior to the crash. This shift in the statistics has very little to do with Vision Zero as presently constituted and everything to do with texting and driving and texting and walking, along with alcohol in both cases. Turns out alcohol and texting are just as common and serious a problem among pedestrians as among drivers. Texting and driving needs to be illegal and to receive serious punishments like 6-month license suspensions. The public needs to be educated about the risks and perhaps even given significant citations when obviously texting while negotiating crosswalks. It’s a lesson about basic alertness that is clearly reflected in several studies of pedestrian injuries and deaths and more proof that Vision Zero’s present narrow focus on vehicle speed is inappropriate and will punish safe drivers without ever reaching the laudable goals of the program.