Streets that are safer for pedestrians are safer for everyone.

June 3, 2014

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Streets that are safer for pedestrians are safer for everyone. Redesigning a street, while not always cheap or easy, is the single most effective way to prevent loss of life—saving drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. How many more people have to die before cities take action? (Read full Gizmodo story)

A new report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition called “Dangerous by Design” is full of chilling statistics which prove that pedestrian fatalities are a national public health epidemic — one that we’re not doing nearly enough about.

How do we find the worst streets in the country? The “Dangerous by Design” report offers one method, rating metropolitan areas with the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which measures how likely a pedestrian is to get struck by a car while walking. The figure is derived from two bits of data: The percentage of people who walk to work and the number of pedestrian fatalities. A high number is bad. The US nationwide average is 52.2.

How do we target the deadliest streets for change? A new tool called StreetScore, developed by MIT’s Media Lab, could help. StreetScore measures perceived street safety. Using a machine-learning algorithm, StreetScore can read street-view images, associating certain textures, colors and shapes with safe features. The more of those safe features it spots, the higher the score, with 10 being the max.