America Walks is a national organization which fosters walkable communities by engaging, educating, and connecting walking advocates, http://americawalks.org/. The group has just released a report, Dangerous by Design, which provides an overview of the most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are based on state data for pedestrian fatalities that occurred from 2000 to 2009.
More than 47,400 pedestrians were killed nationwide in a 10-year span, according to a report released May 24 by advocacy group Transportation for America. And more than 688,000 pedestrians were injured from 2000 to 2009.
And the death of a pedestrian in a crosswalk today in Aurora highlights the dangers when seniors are involved. Older adults are 96 percent more likely to be killed while walking than those under 65 years of age. Between 2000 and 2007, nearly 8,460 pedestrians aged 65 years or older were killed in traffic crashes, according to data from the CDC.
Older pedestrians represent nearly 22 percent of total pedestrian fatalities over that period, although they account for less than 13 percent of the nation’s population. The oldest pedestrians (75 years and older) suffered from pedestrian fatality rates of 3.61 per 100,000 people, more than twice that for people under 65 years of age.
The higher fatality rate for older pedestrians is in part the result of poor design: the duration of crosswalk signals frequently ignores the needs of older walkers and many walkways do not provide for older pedestrians with physical impairments that decrease their ability to avoid oncoming traffic.
The AARP recognizes the need for greater pedestrian safety for it s members and has worked to enact complete streets policies that take older pedestrians into account, winning new complete streets policies in Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan and Puerto Rico; and working for them now in Alabama, Vermont and several other states. The AARP is also encouraging states to implement the Federal Highway Administration’s roadway design guidelines for older drivers and pedestrians. States should also be encouraged to set aside greater proportions of highway dollars to pedestrian safety – in 2008, only two states spent any of their Highway Safety funding to improve infrastructure for bicycling and walking. Yet, pedestrians and bicyclists make up 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.
Older adults have much to gain when walking is safe, both in terms of independence and health. The percentage of Americans aged 65 and over is expected to rise from 12 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2025, creating an even greater need for safe streets.