Study: Jax Among Most Dangerous Metros For Pedestrians, But Improving

Mar 10, 2021

A report released Wednesday found that Jacksonville is the tenth most dangerous metropolitan area in the country for pedestrians.

Smart Growth America and The National Complete Streets Coalition published their 2021 Dangerous By Design report, which found between 2010 and 2019 that drivers struck and killed 53,435 pedestrians throughout the United States, which equates to an average of more than 14 people per day.

In Jacksonville, the group said there were 462 fatalities between 2010 and 2019.

The city’s ranking was done with what Dangerous By Design calls a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which looked at pedestrian deaths per 100,000 and then compared it to walking rates.

The average annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in Jacksonville between 2010-2019 was 3.1, giving it a PDI score of 204.7.

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro area was ranked the worst in the country with 740 pedestrian fatalities between 2010 and 2019.

Out of the 100 metropolitan areas studied, Provo-Orem, Utah had the fewest pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people - a total of 40 pedestrian deaths - between 2010-2019.

Scores of metropolitan areas in Florida have consistently fallen within the top 20 most dangerous cities for pedestrians since the first report was done, but the authors did acknowledge statewide progress has been made.

“Recent editions of this report have applauded Florida state leaders’ recognition of the problem and efforts to improve safety for people walking,” the authors wrote, but added, “the state has lost the momentum.”

Jacksonville has improved its PDI score from 226.2 in the 2019 Dangerous by Design report to 204.7 in the 2021 report, representing a 21.5% improvement.

Jacksonville was one of just 15 communities where index scores improved after the report’s authors changed their scoring system to factor in more information about levels of walking, including U.S. Census Bureau information about numbers of people walking to work, WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported.

The authors maintain that pedestrian deaths are preventable and say that the nationwide average for the number of people struck and killed while walking has grown 45% over the last decade.

The Dangerous by Design authors said changes are needed in how roads and sidewalks are funded, designed, operated, and maintained, adding that speed is too often prioritized over safety.

Getting into specifics, the authors are calling for things like high-visibility crosswalks, which Jacksonville and other Florida communities have started implementing.  They also suggest narrower travel lanes naturally slow traffic down, thereby making drivers more aware of pedestrians. They also want more extended curbs to shorten the distance required to cross streets.

The full study, which includes rankings for 100 metropolitan areas and suggestions for improving pedestrian safety is available here.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.