D.C. Is One of the Country’s Safest Places for Pedestrians. The Suburbs, Less So.
The District of Columbia is one of the safest places in the country to be a pedestrian. But the city suffers from a discrepancy in the danger faced by different ethnicities. And cross into Maryland and Virginia, and things get a whole lot less safe.
The National Complete Streets Coalition, a part of Smart Growth America, released a report today analyzing the relative dangers to pedestrians in states in metropolitan areas around the country. D.C. actually had a higher rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents between 2003 and 2010 than all but two states, New Mexico and Florida. But that doesn't take into account that people walk much more in the District than in most states. Using a measure called the Pedestrian Danger Index, which compares the pedestrian fatality rate to the percentage of people who walk to work, the report finds that pedestrians in D.C. are in fact safer than those in all but two states, Vermont and Alaska.
That's not the case in D.C.'s suburbs. While D.C. comes in at number 49 of the 51 states plus the District in terms of pedestrian danger, Virginia is the 22nd most dangerous and Maryland is the 15th. As a result, the D.C. metropolitan area, while still safer than most, is not among the safest in the country. It ranks 35th out of the 51 regions studied. The Boston and Pittsburgh areas are the safest for pedestrians, while the four most dangerous regions are all in Florida, led by Orlando and Tampa.
Not all Washingtonians are equally safe on the streets. According to the report, the average pedestrian death rate for Hispanics in D.C. was 135 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites from 2003 to 2010. For blacks, it was 126 percent higher. Nationwide, this discrepancy exists as well, but it's smaller: The death rate is 43 percent higher for Hispanics and 60 percent higher for blacks.
Images from the report