Providence 4th-most dangerous in Northeast for pedestrians

RHODE ISLAND ranked 30th nationwide on the
RHODE ISLAND ranked 30th nationwide on the "Dangerous By Design 2011" study released by Transportation For America. /

WASHINGTON – Providence is the 4th most-dangerous metropolitan area in the Northeast for pedestrians, according to a study by Transportation for America released Tuesday.

The organization’s “Pedestrian Danger Index” looked at the average percentage of workers walking to work and the number of fatalities and gave Providence a 41.6 score.

The Providence-New Bedford-Fall River area, with 2.8 percent of its workers commuting by foot and 186 fatalities from 2000 to 2009, ranked fourth among the eight northeast metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents.

The Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., area was the most dangerous regionally (163 pedestrian deaths), followed by Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn., (135) and the multi-state metropolitan area Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (Pa., N.J., Del., and Md.) which had 965 pedestrian deaths.

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The least-dangerous of the eight areas were the cities – and surrounding areas – of New York and Boston.

The most dangerous places to walk are those that fail to make smart infrastructure investments that make roads safer for everyone, the report said, while noting that nationally, 688,000 pedestrians were injured over the decade, a number equivalent to a pedestrian being struck by a car or truck every seven minutes.

When ranked on a national level, the Providence area came in at No. 40. As a state, Rhode Island ranked 30th, with 117 pedestrian deaths from 2000 to 2009 or 14.3 percent of all fatalities. Minorities, senior citizens and children were disproportionately represented among the fatalities, the group said.

“Here in Rhode Island, we could be saving lives and encouraging better lifestyles by investing in sidewalks, crosswalks, trails, traffic calming and other safety measures, in addition to better biking infrastructure and world-class public transit,” said Abel Collins, program manager of Sierra Club Rhode Island’s Transportation Choices 2020 transportation reform project. “Complete streets in Rhode Island will help save lives and provide safe, convenient transportation choices that will help break our addiction to oil.”

Transportation for America outlined several provisions it recommends for inclusion in the next federal transportation spending bill, including:

  • Retain dedicated federal funding for pedestrians and bicyclists (as Congress contemplates eliminating funding for two related programs).
  • Adopt a national complete streets policy (taking into account the needs of all users of the transportation system).
  • Fill in the gaps (create complete networks of sidewalks bicycle paths and trails).
  • Commit a fair share for safety (separate safety goals for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and motorists)
  • Hold states accountable for creating communities that are safe for walking.

“Taxpayer money that goes to the federal government and is distributed to states for transportation should be used to build streets, roads and highways that are safe for all users. With millions of Americans walking along and crossing these federally funded roads each day, the millions in federal dollars spent on them each year must result in safer conditions for pedestrians,” the report said.

Of the more than 47,000 pedestrian fatalities that occurred from 2000 to 2009 nationally, 67 percent occurred on federal-aid roadways, roads that are eligible to receive federal funding of construction and improvements with federal guidelines or oversight for design.

For the full report, “Dangerous by Design 2011,” click here.

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