Unwalkable streets: a Southern disease

I was shocked to see that Dallas didn’t come tops – or even in the top ten – in Transportation for America‘s ranking of the most dangerous cities for walking. Ever since I moved here 11 months ago, I’ve felt that as a pedestrian, I’m living life on the edge.  Perhaps my instincts were somewhat correct – it does rank the highest of any place I’ve lived. (Though the report only rates big cities, so unfortunately we don’t get to see how Knoxville, Tenn., fares. Not great, I’d assume.)

Looking at the table below, it’s disturbing to see how the south and Florida are “leaders” in this field. T4A says these areas are dominated by low-density, car-oriented development patterns – well, clearly. But that’s just the how. A better question is, why? – is it because southern cities are, in general, less prosperous? Have carmakers historically wielded more influence over town planning in the south? Or is it a symptom of right-leaning-to-libertarian, “git off my property” politics, which simply makes the whole notion of town planning unthinkable?

Most dangerous metro areas (over 1 million residents) for pedestrians

Ranking Metropolitan Area Average Annual Pedestrian
Deaths per 100,000
Residents (2007-2008)
Percent of Workers
Walking to Work (2000)
Pedestrian Danger
Index (PDI)
1 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 2.86 1.3% 221.5
2 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 3.52 1.7% 205.5
3 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 3.04 1.7% 181.2
4 Jacksonville, FL 2.61 1.7% 157.4
5 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 1.83 1.3% 137.7
6 Raleigh-Cary, NC 2.02 1.6% 128.6
7 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 1.93 1.7% 114.8
8 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 1.81 1.6% 112.4
9 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 1.30 1.2% 110.0
10 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 1.37 1.3% 108.3
11 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 2.46 2.3% 105.6
12 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 1.29 1.2% 103.9
13 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 1.47 1.5% 99.3

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