Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Pedestrian deaths are up. What do we do? | Editorial

It will take a combination of urban planning, enforcement and driver awareness to reverse the trend.
A pedestrian uses a lighted, mid-block crosswalk on Fourth Street N near 20th Avenue N in St. Petersburg.
A pedestrian uses a lighted, mid-block crosswalk on Fourth Street N near 20th Avenue N in St. Petersburg.
Published Nov. 8, 2019

St. Petersburg has had more pedestrians killed this year than homicides. This troubling trend is also reflected in national statistics: 2018 saw the highest number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in the United States since 1990. While encouraging more walkers and bikers is commendable and creates a more sustainable transportation system, their safety is paramount. This is a community issue more than a law enforcement issue, and better safety will require more vigilance by drivers, walkers and bikers alike.

From January to October in 2018, seven pedestrians were killed in fatal crashes while walking on the streets of St. Petersburg. What’s more frightening is that double that number—14 pedestrians —have already been killed in the city this year. The Tampa Bay area has long been known as one of the country’s most dangerous places to be a pedestrian or a bicyclist. Pedestrian fatalities in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties still make up a large portion of total traffic crash deaths. In the first six months of this year, crashes involving pedestrians only made up about 2.6 percent of all vehicle-involved crashes in Pinellas and Hillsborough, but pedestrian fatalities made up 32 percent of all deaths from car crashes. Less than 1 percent of all traffic crashes resulted in deaths, while almost 9 percent of all pedestrian crashes resulted in death.

Nationally, the numbers aren’t any better. An average of 17 pedestrians and two bicyclists were killed in crashes every day in America in 2018, reports The New York Times. The number of pedestrians killed rose by 3.4 percent to 6,283 walkers last year, even though the number of traffic deaths went down. That’s what is so worrisome about these numbers. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are rising as other traffic crash-related deaths decline.

St. Petersburg is not unaware. In May, the City Council approved a 20-year “Complete Streets” program that would add more crosswalks, bike lanes and other safety methods to streets around the city. The city has already added wide bike lanes to major thoroughfares, like those on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N between 4th and 30th Avenues N, which has been controversial. At the same time, the St. Petersburg Police Department recently received a contract for almost $80,000 to “conduct specialized traffic enforcement" focused on bicyclist and pedestrian safety from October to May. It will take multiple approaches to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safer.

As cities such as St. Petersburg continue to create neighborhoods and urban cores that encourage walking and biking, the design of public spaces and the approach of law enforcement should continue to evolve. Pedestrian deaths have to go down. The vigilance of drivers has to go up.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Peacocks and peahens at a home on 26th Avenue N in the Disston Heights neighborhood of St Petersburg. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Nitwits have tried to board commercial flights with emotional-support ducks, turkeys, non-frozen Florida iguanas, flatulent pot-bellied pigs and a freaking peacock, writes Carl Hiaasen.
  2. Opponents of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, gather at a press conference at the Capitol in Tallahassee. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion and was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop. (AP Photo/Aileen Perilla) [AILEEN PERILLA  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Tuesday’s letters to the editor
  3. TRUMP [undefined]
    An impeached but re-elected Trump would feel few restraints on his power, writes a Stetson law professor.
  4. A woman enters a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver's license service center, in Hialeah. [WILFREDO LEE  |  AP]
    This is a small way to change a system that has large, underlying problems.
  5. Then-House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, examines a printout of the $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government for the 2016 budget year and extend $650 billion in tax cuts.
    Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters.
  6. AUSCHWITZ [SOMER  |  Abaca Press]
    An awful anniversary reminds how little time and distance has passed, writes Leonard Pitts.
  7. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a campaign event Monday in Grimes, Iowa. [PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP]
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  8. This image provided by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a collection of lung scans of 20 monkeys who were exposed to tuberculosis after receiving different forms of a TB vaccine. [MARIO ROEDERER  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  9.  [Chip Bok -- Creators.com]
  10. Teachers and supporters march during the Florida Education Association's "Take on Tallahassee" rally at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. [PHIL SEARS  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement