America Walks Responds to 2017 Pedestrian Fatalities
At America Walks, we have watched excitedly and been inspired as the past year has brought progress and growth to the walking movement. We have seen creativity and innovation tackle community concerns through our Community Change grant program, learned from and with our Walking College fellows as they improved their advocacy skills, and hosted discussions on equity, inclusion, and other issues of the time that demonstrate that our network is ready and willing to tackle difficult topics. Despite this growth, one thing has apparently not changed- the rate of pedestrian fatalities has continued to climb.
As we posted last year, tracking of 2016 pedestrian fatalities showed an alarming increase in the number of people killed while walking. Last week, the GHSA shared its first numbers on 2017 and it seems as though little has changed- an estimated 5,984 people were killed compared to 5,997 people in 2016.
The report goes into detail on state-by-state data and looks at possible causes of the fatalities, including recent legalization of marijuana and increased use of smartphones. However, at America Walks we know that many of the issues that plague pedestrians are not new. Poor street design, improper speeds, and a culture that prioritizes cars over people have created a landscape that continues to unnecessarily endanger the most vulnerable users of the public rights of way.
“Walkable communities support individual health and wellness, economic strength, and improved environmental conditions,” said America Walks Executive Director Kate Kraft. “These numbers demonstrate that we have our work cut out for us to convince decision-makers to make the changes necessary to address these alarming fatalities and help all communities realize the benefits of walking.”