Friday, May 25 , 2018, 4:22 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Report Ranks Santa Barbara 22nd in State for Preventable Pedestrian Deaths

The report also examines how states and communities spend federal money

The Santa Barbara/Goleta/Santa Maria metro area has a 40.4 Pedestrian Danger Index, according to a new report, ranking it 22nd in California for preventable pedestrian deaths. PDI calculates the relative risk of walking, adjusted for exposure. There were 13 pedestrian deaths during 2007-08, making up 14.8 percent of all traffic fatalities.

The report, “Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods),” ranks America’s major metropolitan areas and states according to a PDI, which assesses how safe they are for walking. An update of the 2004 Mean Streets report, “Dangerous by Design,” was released by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership.

The report’s authors note that most pedestrian deaths are preventable, because they occur on streets that are designed to encourage speeding traffic and lack safe sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and other protections. The report concludes that fixing those problems is a matter of will on the part of state departments of transportation and local communities, and of shifting spending priorities.

The report also examined how states and localities spend federal money that could be used to make streets safer, and found that the area spent just $1.11 per person per year of its federal funding on pedestrian infrastructure, compared with $3.67 per person in San Luis Obispo, which boasts a PDI of 15.4 percent (only 3.8 percent of traffic deaths were pedestrians).

While walking conditions remain perilous across the country, many communities are working to make their streets safe and welcoming for people on foot or bicycle, the report shows. Communities are beginning to reverse 50 years of anti-pedestrian policies by retrofitting or building new roads as “complete streets” that are safer for walking and bicycling as well as motorists. Santa Barbara has been making positive strides, but there is more work to be done, the report concludes.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, a community pedestrian safety workshop will be held at the Franklin Center in the Santa Barbara Eastside, a neighborhood that has seen its share of pedestrian collisions. The workshop will feature a team from California Walks and the UC Berkeley Center for Traffic Safety and is hosted by Santa Barbara Walks, a project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation. The workshop is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served; child care and Spanish translation will be available. Click here for more information and to register.

“As Congress prepares to rewrite the nation’s transportation law, this report is yet another wake-up call showing why it is so urgent to update our policies and spending priorities,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America.

Seven organizations served on the steering committee for this report, working closely with T4 America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. These organizations include the American Public Health Association, AARP, Smart Growth America, America Bikes, America Walks, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National Complete Streets Coalition.

— Courtney Dietz is the director Santa Barbara Walks, a project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

 

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