The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership publishes the Mean Streets report every few years, detailing the fate of pedestrians in our car culture. Though pedestrian death rates have declined, the rate of walking has declined even faster, reflecting an increased hazard for those of us who walk – which is all of us. The causes are lack of investment and streets designed for speed and not people. Children and minorities are at higher risk. Solutions include a fare share of funding for pedestrians, complete streets policies, traffic calming, and promoting of the health benefits of walking.
The 2004 report is available at http://www.transact.org/library/reports_html/ms2004/pdf/Final_Mean_Streets_2004_4.pdf. A new edition, retitled Dangerous by Design, will be released in November, and we will of course share that news here.
Nevada’s pedestrian death rate is 2.76 per 100,000 people, ranking only behind New Mexico and Florida, and well above the national rate of 1.68. Though 16.3% of traffic fatalities in Nevada were pedestrians, the state spent only 0.8% of its federal transportation funds on pedestrian improvements. This is unfortunately not far from the national average of 0.9%, but states with low pedestrian deaths all spend a higher percentage of their funds on pedestrians. The federal government and states may give lip service to protecting pedestrians, but when it comes to spending, their priorities are clearly elsewhere, on speeding along motor vehicles. Transportation Enhancement (TE) is the main federal program dedicated to increasing pedestrian and bicycle safety, but Nevada only spends 70% of the available funds, letting the rest return to the federal government. Las Vegas certainly contributes to the problem for Nevada, with its large population and low rate of spending on pedestrians and bicyclists (48 out of 50 of the major metropolitan statistical areas), but the rest of the state is hardly better. Tragically, Reno jumped from 2.80 to 3.27 deaths per 100,000 people from 1995 to 2003, with 27% of traffic fatalities hitting pedestrians in 2003.