Outside of Uptown and a small handful of other neighborhoods, walking in Dallas sucks. Ungainly sprawl and skin-boiling heat aside, there's a very real chance you'll be flattened by an SUV. No wonder that a mere 1.2 percent of the population commutes by foot, lower than all but a couple of large urban areas.
The data suggests that being a pedestrian in Dallas may be getting better. Or maybe just slightly less terrible. There's been enough of an improvement anyway to cause a noticeable dip in the pedestrian death rate.
When a coalition of nonprofits led by Smart Growth America and Transportation For America released their previous Dangerous By Design report in 2011, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked as the 10th most dangerous place for pedestrians. In the 2014 version of the report, DFW has dropped to No. 12.
Between 2000 and 2009, 942 pedestrians were killed on local roads. In the period between 2003 and 2012, the number was 900. That's a 4.5 percent decrease, though given the six-year overlap, this significantly understates the actual decrease. The drop in the number of annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population decreased by 18 percent.
Not that a modest decrease in the chance of dying a horribly sudden and painful death is terribly encouraging. Dallas is still a long way from Boston, the safest urban area for pedestrians, which has way more walkers and way fewer deaths.
The solution proposed by Smart Growth America? Basically, more "complete streets," roads designed less to get cars through as quickly as possible than to make all road users -- drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists -- safe and comfortable. Dallas is working on it, albeit slowly.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
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