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Report: SLC Ranks Midway Among Big U.S. Cities for Pedestrian Deaths

PHOTO: Salt Lake City ranks about midway in a new national ranking of pedestrian deaths and safety in big U.S. cities. Photo courtesy Utah Department of Transportation.
PHOTO: Salt Lake City ranks about midway in a new national ranking of pedestrian deaths and safety in big U.S. cities. Photo courtesy Utah Department of Transportation.
June 4, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's capital ranks about midway among the nation's 51 largest metropolitan areas for pedestrian deaths and safety, according to a new report.

Called "Dangerous by Design," the report by the National Complete Streets Coalition compiles the number of pedestrian deaths from 2003 to 2012, and also includes a "Pedestrian Danger Index."

One pedestrian death is too many, said Salt Lake County Public Works Director Russ Wall, although he added that his agency is somewhat limited by funding.

"There's a stronger emphasis towards working on stuff for not only pedestrians but bicycles," he said. "But it's a matter of prioritizing the money we have, and getting more money."

With 132 pedestrian deaths from 2003 to 2012, Salt Lake City ranked 33rd on the list for fatalities and 28th on the Pedestrian Danger Index. The study ranked four Florida cities - Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami - as the nation's most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

The study also found that about 20 percent of pedestrians who lost their lives in Utah were age 65 or older, although seniors are only 9 percent of the state's overall population. With America's senior population expected to double by 2030, said Laura Polacheck, communications director for AARP Utah, pedestrian safety should be a higher priority for all levels of government.

"We need to do much more to make sure pedestrians are safe," she said. "So, it's really a matter of looking towards what states and cities can do to make sure pedestrian safety is part of overall transportation planning."

The study showed that the majority of pedestrians deaths happen on roadways with speed limits of 40 miles per hour and higher. Polacheck said the state should find ways to fund more and wider sidewalks, curb extensions and crosswalks to improve the safety of pedestrians of all ages.

The report is online at smartgrowthamerica.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT