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The State You're In: A look at the financial bottom line might be good for pedestrian safety

A few days ago a report came out called "Dangerous by Design" from a group called Transportation for America. It caught our attention because it ranked the metro areas where pedestrians were most likely to be killed. The top four spots belonged to cities in Florida, with our own region safely in second place.

You might think this was news, and therefore worthy of the placement on the front page. But you would be wrong. News needs novelty, and that's where this falls short.

These results are identical to the ones from 2009 in which the top four spots were occupied by the same four Florida cities. All that changed is that the Tampa Bay region has become measurably more dangerous for pedestrians.

People who know a pedestrian might say that a worsening safety record sounds like news, but that only demonstrates their pedestrian bias. And that is completely out of step with the transportation norms of this community, in which less than 2 percent of workers walk to their jobs.

If we cared about the 905 pedestrians who died on Tampa Bay area roads from 2000 to 2009 — an average of 7.5 per month over that decade — we'd stop designing wider roads to speed up traffic. That's the claim of the folks from Transportation for America, and it's a conclusion that is hard to argue with when you realize that 52 percent of the 47,067 pedestrians killed nationally from 2000 to 2009 died on arterial roads.

Maybe we care, but we don't seem to care enough, because we argue loudly against spending tax dollars on slowing traffic. So maybe the pocketbook argument is the way to go. Would it change our minds if we knew that Florida could save about $2.22 billion annually by reducing pedestrian fatalities 10 percent?

If we did, that'd be front-page news.

Bill Duryea, Times staff writer

The State You're In: A look at the financial bottom line might be good for pedestrian safety 06/03/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 2:22pm]

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