On a list of 52 of the nation's largest metro areas, New Orleans ranks 15th for preventable pedestrian deaths, according to a report from the Pedestrian Bicycle Resource Initiative (PBRI), a project from the University of New Orleans Center for Urban and Public Affairs and the Regional Planning Commission, with assistance from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. The report, "Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods)" grades cities and states according to a Pedestrian Danger Index used to determine how safe each city is for walking. The report finds that 60 percent of car-pedestrian accidents in Louisiana occur in New Orleans, and an average of four pedestrians and bicyclists are hit by cars in the metro area every day.
Pedestrian signals, safer sidewalks, crosswalks and controlling speeding traffic would greatly reduce pedestrian deaths, according to the report, though PBRI director Billy Fields says fixing these issues is a matter of funding and willingness by state departments of transportation and local communities. The report also adds that New Orleans ranks 33rd in using funds to make streets safer, spending an average of only 85 cents per person on such projects. But the report also indicates signs of improvement, with a steady rise in national "complete streets" programs, which retrofit roads for safer pedestrian access, and new projects across the New Orleans area, including Oak Street's reconstruction and a new Gentilly walking path. Visit www.4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign to view the full report. — Alex Woodward