The Safest Cities for Walking to Work

Our communities are built for cars, not pedestrians - so in many places, it's all but impossible to walk safely to work.

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Earlier this week, my colleague Matt Bandyk listed the 15 best cities for people who crave shorter commutes and less time in the car. And while, to most people, that means hopping on a train, bike, or bus, Matt was good enough to highlight arguably the most difficult of those options: walking. In many of the communities highlighted, residents get themselves to work in less than 20 minutes via the lowest-impact method of all: their own two feet. But they are a rarity. Our communities have been designed for cars, not pedestrians, so in many places, it's all but impossible to walk safely to work.

Transportation for America has issued a report on the safety and walkability of America's biggest cities, and some of their findings are cringe-worthy. In the past 15 years, more than 76,000 American pedestrians have been struck and killed on our roadways. Children, the elderly, and minorities are disproportionately affected. Transportation for America has developed a Pedestrian Danger Index that accounts for the pedestrian fatality rate of a metropolitan area weighted by the amount of residents who walk to work, since cities wth more pedestrians are likely to have higher fatality rates. The more pedestrian commuters in a city, the safer is it likely to be for them. Therefore, the cities with the fewest pedestrians and the highest fatality rates are considered the most deadly for these commuters. It's clear that the worst state for pedestrians is Florida—4 of the top 5 most dangerous cities are in the Sunshine State. Orlando is first with a whopping Pedestrian Danger Index of 221.5, followed by Tampa/St. Petersburg (205.5), Miami/Fort Lauderdale (181.2), Jacksonville (157.4), and finally Memphis (137.7). The good news is that many of the cities on our commuter-friendly list are not only convenient for the carless, but also safe for pedestrians. Here's how Transportation for America's list matches up with ours, selected from data provided by Onboard (Note: Most of our cities were too small to be included in their ranking).

1. Minneapolis (Pedestrian Danger Index 22.3)
2. Boston/Cambridge/Quincy (PDI 23.2)
4. Pittsburgh (PDI 29.1)
9. Portland (PDI 36.4)
14. Milwaukee (PDI 48.6)

Check out our slide show of the most commuter-friendly cities. Or, for Transportation for America's full ranking, find the report here.


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