Watch Your Step: These Are the Deadliest American Cities for Pedestrians
We know you have to look both ways when you’re driving through the most dangerous intersections in America, but you have to do the same thing as a pedestrian. With more people walking and tons of distracted drivers, it’s as dangerous as ever for people to hang up the keys and use their feet to get around. Walking to work is good for the environment and your health, but it’s deadly for pedestrians in these American cities.
A report from Smart Growth America examined the number of walking pedestrians and the number of deaths in major American cities. These are the deadliest American cities for pedestrians based on death rate per 100,000 people (including the one at No. 9 that is the only one from a west coast state).
15. Columbia, South Carolina
Pedestrian death rate: 2.06
Columbia is one of the most sinful cities in America because of its greed, but it’s not so great about watching out for walkers. It had 162 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014, according to the Smart Growth America study, which was only 36 less than Columbus, Ohio, a city with more than six times as many people.
Next: Hard to explain.
14. Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia
Pedestrian death rate: 2.07
It’s hard to explain why Augusta, Richmond County, and southern South Carolina (across the Savannah River from Augusta) show up on this list. The city doesn’t have a ton of drunk drivers; it’s almost totally dry. Despite being an affordable city where you can retire for less than $1,000 per month, older people don’t have an increased risk of being struck by a car.
One explanation could be that, aside from downtown Augusta, the area is mostly rural, which means people have to drive more to get around. Whatever the cause, Augusta is one of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians.
Next: A metro area averaging 15 pedestrian deaths each year.
13. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.08
This trio of cities on Florida’s west coast have heart 180,000 people combined, and one of the highest pedestrian death rates in the U.S. If you group the three towns as one city, then it’s one of the worst cities to walk in. The metro area experienced 150 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014, or an average of 15 per year.
Next: The dangers extend to pedestrians.
12. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pedestrian death rate: 2.16
High crime rates make New Mexico one of the most dangerous states, and Albuquerque is one of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians. It logged 194 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014, which comes out to an average of more than 19 per year.
Next: It makes sense seeing this city make our list.
11. Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina
Pedestrian death rate: 2.18
When you consider South Carolina has dangerous drivers all over the roads, then it makes sense to see Charleston on the list of deadliest American states for pedestrians. The state had 44 hit and run car crashed in 2016 and 251 from 2006 to 2014, according to AAA research. The Charleston-North Charleston metro area suffered 152 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014.
Next: A sneakily dangerous city.
10. New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana
Pedestrian death rate: 2.22
Population: 1.27 million
Thanks to its high murder rate, New Orleans is more dangerous than you think. The Crescent City and nearby Metairie are two of the worst cities to walk in. They had more pedestrian deaths (272) combined from 2004 to 2015 than greater San Jose (271), an area with nearly twice as many people.
Next: Our only visit to a west coast state.
9. Bakersfield, California
Pedestrian death rate: 2.39
It seems like Bakersfield can’t do anything right. It’s one of the worst places to be if you’re trying to find a job, it’s a terrible city for retirement, and you can barely breathe its polluted air. Well, it’s also awful for people on foot. Its 205 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014 was only 17 less than the Minneapolis metro area which is nearly 10 times more populous.
Next: Add pedestrian dangers to list of things to hate.
8. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.55
There’s already a long list of reasons Florida is the most hated state in the U.S. Add pedestrian danger to the list. Cape Coral and Fort Myers, on the other side of the Caloosahatchee River in the western part of the state, are two of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians. The Smart Growth America study gave the metro area the highest pedestrian danger index score, and its 2.55 deaths per 100,000 are also among the worst in the country.
Next: A dangerous city even though it’s heading in the right direction.
7. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.58
Population: 2.50 million
We’ll say this for Orlando — it’s affordable and it has great job growth numbers. However, the overall metro area is terrible for walkers. The 575 pedestrian deaths recorded from 2005 to 2014 were more than San Diego’s metro area, which has nearly five times as many people. All those Disney park tourists who don’t know the roads may be part of the problem, though the Smart Growth America study shows the pedestrian danger index continues to decrease.
Next: One of the worst places to be a pedestrian
6. Palm Bay-Titusville-Melbourne, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.59
The towns surrounding Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast — Palm Bay, Titusville, and Melbourne — is one of the worst areas to be a pedestrian. The Smart Growth America assigned it the second-worst pedestrian danger index score, and the 2.59 deaths per 100,000 people are sixth-worst in the United States.
Next: A big city with a big problem.
4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida (TIE)
Pedestrian death rate: 2.61
Population: 6.09 million
The Miami metro area has a big problem, and it’s not just the rising sea levels. It’s also one of deadliest American cities for pedestrians. The 1,508 pedestrian deaths in the urban area stretching from Miami north to West Palm Beach are about 50% more than in greater Chicago, but Chicago, with 9.53 million people, is roughly 50% bigger.
Next: We return to an area we visited earlier.
4. Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida (TIE)
Pedestrian death rate: 2.61
The cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven aren’t too far from Orlando, and like the bigger city to the north, they are also some of the worst cities to walk in. Those two cities and their surrounding towns racked up 161 pedestrian deaths from 2005 to 2014, which translates to an average of more than 16 per year.
Next: A city that checks all the boxes, which isn’t a good thing.
3. Jacksonville, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.74
Jacksonville checks all the boxes a city doesn’t want to check. Out of control pollution? Check. A high crime rate? Check. Rampant gun violence that increases your risk of being killed? That too. Those are reasons you should never visit Jacksonville, and here’s another one: It’s one of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians with 2.74 fatalities per 100,000 people.
Next: Putting a damper on all the fun.
2. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 2.88
Population: 3.09 million
All the parks, restaurants, and beaches make Tampa one of America’s most fun cities, but all the pedestrian deaths will put a damper on that fun. Whether looking at the death rate, the 821 fatalities from 2005 to 2014, or the pedestrian danger index score, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area is one of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians. Oh, and don’t forget about the mosquito plague that hits the city every year.
The most dangerous city for pedestrians.
1. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida
Pedestrian death rate: 3.19
If you’ve been paying attention, then you know this is the ninth Florida city on our list of the deadliest American cities for pedestrians. It’s no stretch to say the Sunshine State is the most dangerous state for pedestrians. It recorded 5,142 fatalities from 2005 to 2014, according to the Smart Growth America study, which is more than New York and Pennsylvania combined. Deltona, Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, and the surrounding towns accounted for 191 of those pedestrian deaths.
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