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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Look Both Ways: Report Highlights Pedestrian Dangers in FL Cities

Photo: Florida ranks number one in the nation when it comes to pedestrian fatalities, and Dangerous by Design finds that older Americans are at particular risk. Courtesy: AARP Florida
Photo: Florida ranks number one in the nation when it comes to pedestrian fatalities, and Dangerous by Design finds that older Americans are at particular risk. Courtesy: AARP Florida
May 20, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. – Four Florida metro areas – Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami – top a nationwide list of metropolitan areas deemed most dangerous to pedestrians.

The report – Dangerous By Design – released today by Smart Growth America – highlights the number of people killed annually while walking or bicycling on roadways.

Laura Cantwell, associate state director of advocacy for AARP Florida, says older Americans, people living with disabilities and children are disproportionately impacted by unsafe roadways.

"Older adults often face more risks as pedestrians because they are less able to react quickly to oncoming vehicles, and if they are struck they're less likely to recover from the collision," she points out.

When compared with other states, Florida ranks number one in pedestrian fatalities with almost 5,200 deaths from 2003 to 2012.

The report recommends increasing pedestrian-safe walking areas, ramps on curbs to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, and bike lanes.

Additionally, it recommends the passage of the Safe Street Act, currently before Congress, that would require federally funded roads to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, in addition to cars.

The report notes that since the study concluded in 2012, several Florida metropolitan areas have made great strides in improving pedestrian safety.

Jacksonville hired a full-time bicycle and pedestrian safety coordinator and the Best Foot Forward Coalition in central Florida has a goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries by 50 percent in the next five years.

Still with that, Cantwell says the state has a long way to go.

"There's a lot of places in Florida that don't even have sidewalks in a lot of the cities, and making sure that if you do have sidewalks that there are enough crosswalks so that people are able to cross over the road safer and more comfortable," she says.

Nationwide, 47,000 pedestrians were killed from 2003 to 2012, which, according to the report, is six times as many who died during the same time period in natural disasters.


Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL