With its warm weather, colorful shops and soft-sanded beaches, Sarasota is the perfect place to slow down. Yet here and throughout Florida, fast-moving cars are posing major threats to those folks taking their time on bike or on foot. The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area ranks 10th in the country for pedestrian danger, according to Smart Growth America’s 2016 Dangerous by Design report. And with eight total regions in the top 10, Florida accounts for more pedestrian deaths than any other state.
Pedestrians who are 65 and older are 50 percent more likely to be killed by cars, putting Southwest Florida’s elderly population into a particularly high-risk category. Also at a higher risk are non-white people, who make up 35 percent of the state’s population but account for 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths.
Lower-income areas are more likely to see higher rates of pedestrian fatalities. Additionally, people in lower-income areas are often under-insured, so they are less equipped to deal with injury when it occurs.
While the numbers of pedestrian injuries and fatalities are alarming, they are improving. Historically, streets were designed to prioritize high-speed car traffic, leading to dangerous pedestrian conditions. But since 2004, the Florida Department of Transportation has been implementing the national Complete Streets initiative, which encourages street design that consciously considers pedestrians and bikers. As more streets are planned with everyone in mind, more and more pedestrians should be able to share the road in safety.