Pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns continue to plague the Tampa Bay region. After several high-profile bike fatalities in recent years, the issue is finally attracting greater attention in the public and in the media. Despite this growing level of awareness, the severity of the problem warrants even greater attention.
Florida has the highest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation, with 2.51 deaths per 100,000 people (Source: DOT). In Tampa Bay, this number is even higher, at 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people. A recent St. Petersburg Times article cited an FDOT staistic that a pedestrian is injured every seven hours in Tampa Bay and every five days, one is killed.
While there is certainly no one solution to this problem, improving pedestrian infrastructure is a good place to start. A report by Transportation for America examined the top 52 metro areas in the US and ranked them according to an index of pedestrian safety. They found that the safest metros - places like Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Portland - have made significant investment into sidewalks and crosswalks. These regions also actively work to create a culture that supports walking and biking.
The Tampa Bay Region lags behind in this area. The majority of our roadways are far from pedestrian friendly, which negatively impacts our health in addition to posing a safety risk. You can help identify areas in need of improved walkability by taking the National Walking Survey. Learn more about the benefits of walking and walkable neighborhoods at http://americawalks.org/.