PubliCola Afternoon Jolt logo
Afternoon Jolt

File today's winning Jolt under Josh's Pedestrian Chronicles posts. Big winner: Seattle

According to a new report called "Dangerous by Design" from Smart Growth America, a national urbanist research and advocacy group, Seattle has a low (which means good) Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), ranking 49th on a list of 51 metro areas in the U.S.

The PDI measures the likelihood that someone will be hit by a vehicle and killed. Smart Growth America explains that sunbelt and southern cities have the dubious honor of being at the top of the list, with scores than can be four times than the national PDI of 52.2: Orlando (244.28), Tampa (190), Jacksonville, Fl, (182.71), Miami (145.33), and Memphis (131.26) are the top five (worst) cities on the list. 

[Footnote: Erica's hometown, Houston, came in at No. 7 with a 119.64 PDI.]

"Communities in the Sunbelt, particularly the South, top the list of most dangerous places to walk. These places grew in the post-war period, mostly through rapid spread of low-density neighborhoods that rely on wider streets with higher speeds to connect homes, shops and schools—roads that tend to be more dangerous for people walking," the report notes.

The Seattle metro area, incouding Tacoma and Bellevue, has a low 26.81 PDI; (Portland—because you want to know—is at 32.19, 45th on the list.) 

And just to smash stereotypes, NYC was far down on the list as well, with a low score of 28.43, ranking them just behind Seattle in the 48th spot. 

Boston had the lowest score of all, 18.65. 

A main factor in getting a low PDI is in designing streets that lower speeds for cars. And the report specifically highlights Seattle's 2011 redesign at NE 125th (soon to be mimicked on 23rd through Capitol Hill and the Central District) as an exemplar. 

Explaining how Seattle DOT changed four-lane roads for cars into a configuration of bike lanes, two car lanes (one in each direction) and a two-way left-turn lane in the middle, SGA writes:

With the previous configuration, 87 percent of drivers exceeded the speed limit—and 16 percent drove more than 10 mph over it. The redesign brought about a dramatic 69 percent decrease in people driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit, with an 11 percent decrease in speeding. 

More people are now driving, walking and bicycling along this stretch of 125th Street. Despite this increase in volume, the rate of collisions has dropped by 10 percent and there has been little delay for drivers.

The report matches the good news we reported from SDOT itself last week: Seattle continues to see a decline in car collisions with pedestrians.

Seattle Met and PubliCola deliver breaking news and essential updates from around the Northwest. See an example!