The Dangers of Walking


“Dangerous by Design” has just released its 2nd study on the perils pedestrians face simply by being pedestrians.

We’re familiar with the benefits of walking.  On a personal level, it improves health (physically and psychologically) and decreases the gas bill.  On a planetary level, it reduces CO2 emissions and other things that contribute to climate change (cars are still one of the leading emitters of these harmful gases) and protects natural beauty from being demolished by drilling.

Posted by Megan Risley
May 24, 2011

And yet, pedestrians put themselves at more risk than they are probably aware of every day – they, indeed are taking their life into their hands every time they so much as want to cross the street.  It’s not just the many distractions drivers give in to on a daily basis, from adjusting the radio to eating to texting, but the fact that much of the infrastructure supporting motorized vehicles simply wasn’t built with pedestrians in mind.

One of Feet First’s partners in advocacy, Transportation for America, has already started to take action.  Last year, they released their first installment of a study that includes statistics and details about the plethora of perils pedestrians in this country face. “Danger by Design”, part 2, was just released, and the numbers are just as astonishing.

Between 2000 and 2009, almost 48,000 pedestrians were killed, and nearly 690,000 injured in our country yet very little public attention (including legislation and federal dollars) has been given to such a horrifying number (not to mention the causes of these completely avoidable fatalities); 67% of these deaths and injuries occurred on federally-funded roads.  This number is over 10% of traffic-related deaths, yet less than 2% of state transportation budgets are allocated to pedestrian safety.  It has been over two and a half years since Congress has even looked at their supposedly regularly updated transportation bill, which designates funds for infrastructure-related projects across the country.  This is basically like a large commercial jet crashing with 100% fatalities every month and our government completely ignoring it, or worse, take already meager funding away from projects and laws that would make air travel safer.  Yet, federal laws are promoting speeding traffic over peoples safety, despite how relatively inexpensively many of the remedies for these unacceptably high numbers are.

Of the top ten most dangerous US cities for pedestrians, the top four are all in Florida.  Washington ranks 34th out of 50, with 683 pedestrians killed (an overwhelming majority of these being people aged 75 and older) between 2000 and 2009.  This cost the state almost $3 billion dollars; even a 10% reduction in pedestrian deaths would have saved the state almost $3 million. Seattle, though, seemed to do pretty well, ranking 9th best out of the 54 larger metro areas considered in the study.  Get the full story for any state in the nation and the newly released 2011 edition of Dangerous by Design at Transportation for America.

It’s not all bad news, though.  Feet First, the only pedestrian advocacy organization in the State, is already taking steps towards change. As part of a coalition of activists, environmentalists, transportation specialists and more, Feet First is supporting Transportation for Washington. With a multi-year vision and clear goals, this campaign (with Feet First’s help) is showing people how to move forward!


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put on neighborhood walks and provide walking resources

raise awareness throughout Washington about the benefits of walkable communities and rights of the pedestrians

host events and programs focused on improving walkability