The problem is of course how to identify the worst spots and in some ways we rely on national efforts to find and correct major issues as this is an emerging field. While the Dangerous by Design report has helped tremendously bringing attention to pedestrian issues nation wide but it seems to miss Maryland. The answer to this is rather simple, our worst pedestrian areas are split up between two different metro areas and Baltimore's metro area gets combined with counties that are not that bad, so our averages seem better then what they would be if broken down by localities.
Not to say anything bad about Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) but they are a quasi federal agency stuck between state agencies and local agencies. And in the case of Maryland (at least) it is the State that holds most of the money to fix these issues and it is the locality that pushes for fixes to get this money. So my point here is we to convince the State as well as the locality that there is a real issue here that needs to be addressed. Hence this report... This is how Maryland localities look up against the top ten worst metropolitan areas as identified by Dangerous by Design:
|County||Fatalities % that are pedestrian|
|ANNE ARUNDEL (3)||32.4|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJPA||31.10%|
|ST. MARY'S (37)||27.3|
|Los Angeles-Long BeachSanta Ana, CA||27.20%|
|San Francisco-OaklandFremont, CA||26.10%|
|BALTIMORE CITY (510)||25.6|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||24.90%|
|PRINCE GEORGE'S (33)||24.7|
|San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA||21.80%|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL||21.60%|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||21.50%|
|Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||19.30%|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||19.10%|
|QUEEN ANNE'S (35)||9.1|
In this table I just threw in some metro areas for comparison.
|Location||Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 Population|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||3.5|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL||2.9|
|ST. MARY'S (37)||2.84|
|PRINCE GEORGE'S (33)||2.54|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||2.5|
|New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA||2.4|
|San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA||2.1|
|QUEEN ANNE'S (35)||2.09|
|ANNE ARUNDEL (3)||2.04|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||2|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA||2|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA||1.9|
|BALTIMORE CITY (510)||1.61|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||1.6|
Critique of the reports "Pedestrian Danger Index"...
The problem with combining high exposure/fewer fatalities locations with low exposure/high fatalities locations
Baltimore City which has a high walking rate and also a modest pedestrian fatality rate while Anne Arundel has a low walking rate and a high pedestrian fatality rate, which is further complicated by Howard County with no pedestrian fatalities. So by throwing all this together and averaging Baltimore Metro looks good to other metro areas with a lot of suburban sprawl. It is my contention that Baltimore Metro is rather unique with 3 rural counties and 3 urban localities, this uniqueness needs to be offset.
What issue are we trying to bring attention to, car-centric road designs that discourage walking (health) -or- too many roads that kill pedestrians (safety)?
Health (Barriers to walking)
If health is our major concern then just rank metro areas by their walking and mass transit use levels. Sure if we normalize a low pedestrian fatality rate with a low walking rate we can highlight the worst of the worst. But on the other extreme where we have a lot of pedestrians walking and a lot of them being killed in traffic crashes is by no means the best it can get. New York metro area with a pedestrian fatality rate a lot higher then the national norm is ranked in the third "best" area is absurd in my book. If we want to talk about an environment that discourages walking, then sure, put New York at the bottom of the list but I am not buying a high pedestrian fatality rate for a "low" Pedestrian Danger Index. There is a LOT that area can do to improve pedestrian safety and there is certainly a need based on pedestrian numbers as well as pedestrian fatality rates. We need a report that highlights areas were there is both the need (in terms of numbers of those that walk) as well as dire consequences for those that do walk.
Again if safety is the main concern then just a ranking by the fatality rate would suffice. I re-sorting their data by fatality rate and I'll highlight two ares that have a "Danger Index in the hundreds (top 30% of their list) that have moved to the bottom half of my list, Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL metro areas. Both have lower then average fatality rates as well as lower then average walking rates. But I really have to ask is that a safety issue or a health (barriers to walking) issue? Or more to the point, is Baltimore metro area with a fatality rate of 1.8 (my ranking of #17, their ranking of #32) better then a fatality rate of 1.4 or 1.2? When it's just our walking rate of 2.9% that is better then their walking rate of 1.2%-1.3%.
Why I am not doing a Pedestrian Danger Index for Maryland Counties
The reason is two fold, 1) I'm not sure if I get their math, I can come close so my guess is they are rounding the numbers that they report but not for the calculation but without some degree of certainty why I differ I am reluctant to do the same. 2) They changed how American Community Survey site works and I'll be dang if I can figure it out how to get walking rates for the counties now.
But if you are interested the pedestrian fatalities rates for the counties can be found here FARS 2010 DATA (Maryland is still in the top 10 (worst)).
FARS All Victims and Pedestrian Fatality Rates (Click Maryland for the breakdown by county)