Maryland Pedestrian Safety Called Into Question

The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership has created a mechanism for evaluating the safety of pedestrians in the nation's cities. The Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) attempts to come up with an accurate scheme for determining which cities are America's most deadly.

It is tricky to compare pedestrian death rates directly because there are cities where walking is far more prevalent than others. Additionally, the study examines rates of states and localities expenditure of federal funds designated for pedestrian safety.

The conclusions of the study focus on the poor design of roadways and their contribution to pedestrian deaths and injuries.

Four guideposts are suggested. The first is "traffic calming" in roadway design. This is essentially traffic engineering focused on slowing down traffic and providing more safe refuges for walkers and riders.

The second  involves "complete streets" increasing engineering design for the needs of more than merely vehicle drivers. Sidewalks, bicycle paths, medians, and frequent crosswalks are among the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toward "complete streets".

The third element involves the "Safe Routes to Schools Program" which is precisely what the name implies. Taking a more comprehensive approach to school areas both from a design and enforcement standpoint can save lives.

The final suggestion involves "More Walkable Neighborhoods".

So how does Maryland perform when it comes to pedestrian safety?

Of the 52 largest metropolitan areas Baltimore comes in as the 29th most dangerous city and Washington, D.C. 32nd. Salisbury, Maryland came in as only slightly less dangerous than Baltimore and overall the state is subject to criticism for failure to use federal funds designated for pedestrian safety.

This criticism stems from the fact that Maryland has lagged behind every state but Virginia in using federal funds designated for pedestrian and bicycle rider safety. http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/commuting/bal-pedestrian1109,0,5992815.story