Smart Growth America has just released their 2016 edition of Dangerous By Design which examines the epidemic of pedestrians that are killed by cars. Imagine-in the United States between 2005 and 2014 over 46,000 people were killed by being struck by cars. That is the population of Cornwall Ontario or Brandon Manitoba.
Unlike the Canadian Automobile Association that has just released a study breathlessly listing the worst traffic bottlenecks inconveniencing drivers in Canada, Smart Growth USA gets it right-this is not about the inconvenience of vehicular traffic being throttled down by road capacity and so-called “waiting time lost” but about the fact that we are killing off innocent people, whose only crime was to be walking on a sidewalk or a street when their life was snuffed out. But no one is talking about the eleven Vancouver pedestrians that were killed on city streets, or the hundreds maimed, many legally walking with the right of way when crossing in a marked intersection. We had 11 murders in the City of Vancouver in 2016. Please double that number and recognize the people who were also snuffed out by road violence. Where’s the concerned commentary of the Mayor and Council? Per capita, pedestrians are dying at TWICE the rate of pedestrians in Toronto. And no one in authority is addressing this epidemic.
As Smart Growth America states: “In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, 4,884 people were killed by a car while walking—105 people more than in 2013. On average, 13 people were struck and killed by a car while walking every day in 2014. And between 2005 and 2014, Americans were 7.2 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than from a natural disaster. Each one of those people was a child, parent, friend, classmate, or neighbor. And these tragedies are occurring across the country—in small towns and big cities, in communities on the coast and in the heartland.”
Smart Growth America has a webinar yesterday to report their findings. They have partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as seniors are fifty per cent more likely than younger people to be hit and killed by a car while walking. People in lower income neighbourhoods and different ethnic backgrounds where also disproportionately at higher risk to be killed walking even after controlling for the relative higher walking rates associated in these communities.
Street design, speeding vehicles and poor pedestrian infrastructure also need to be addressed. British Columbia’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall notes that vulnerable road users-those without the enclosure of a steel vehicle-were 31.7 per cent of vehicle fatalities in 2009 and are now 34.9 per cent in 2013, the last year there are statistics.In total 280 people are killed annually in collisions in this province, with 79,000 people seriously injured. In a place where the government covers health care, you’d think our politicians would be advocating changes in driver education and behaviour, slower speeds, and road design that makes vehicles slow down. What is it going to take?