In July 2022, Smart Growth America released a report entitled “Dangerous By Design” detailing the most dangerous urban areas for pedestrians in the country. Four California cities have been included in the top 20, noting that none of them have improved in terms of pedestrian safety. The non-profit organization cited poor urban planning as a reason as to why such cities have become among the most dangerous places in California for pedestrians. They said that this is largely in part of a state-wide initiative to accommodate for the influx of vehicles coming in and out of these cities. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of innocent passersby who are trekking these cities by foot.
While poor urban planning affects all, the organization reports that its effects appear to be disproportionate across racial lines. They reported that Black and Native Americans, in particular, are most affected by this systemic issue. Smart Growth America suggests that since these ethnic groups are concentrated in dangerous cities in California which are filled with low-income neighborhoods with a severe lack of walkable sidewalks, they are much more at risk of experiencing wrongful deaths.
This problem isn’t getting any better either. The organization reports that 7,485 pedestrians were killed by a moving vehicle in 2021, an 11-13% jump from the preceding year. While some may think that this huge increase in pedestrian-related fatalities could be attributed to the significant decrease of cars on the road as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, the report also pointed out that 2020 saw an “increase in all traffic fatalities, even with less driving overall.” This is due to these cities’ dangerous street design, making them the average pedestrian’s worst nightmare and the most dangerous cities in California in 2022.
To make matters worse, all the cities occupying this year’s top 9 spots surpassed the #1 worst city for pedestrians five years ago in terms of pedestrian-related deaths. This includes two cities in California, making the golden state the 9th most dangerous for pedestrians nationwide behind Nevada (8th), Mississippi (7th), and Louisiana (6th).
IN CALIFORNIA, WHAT CITY IS THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE FOR PEDESTRIANS?
Bakersfield is the most dangerous city in California for pedestrians. Smart Growth America reports that the city currently has the 7th highest rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people nationwide, sitting at a staggering 3.41. This figure surpasses the number that the #1 worst city for pedestrians held five years ago. Considering this, it has become all the more evident that the issue regarding pedestrian-related deaths has gone dire. The city’s local publication has claimed that Bakersfield is making an active effort to improve pedestrian casualties, but as the non-profit organization reported, changes need to be made on the road design itself for significant improvements to be made.
OTHER DANGEROUS CITIES IN CALIFORNIA FOR PEDESTRIANS
Three other California cities have landed themselves among the list of top 20 most dangerous cities for pedestrians, namely Stockton, Fresno, and Riverside:
Stockton: Stockton placed number 9 among the worst cities in the United States for pedestrians according to Smart Growth America. The city currently has pedestrian-related deaths at the rate of 3.35 per 100,000 people, making it the second worst city for pedestrians in California behind Bakersfield. Comparing it to 2011-2015’s worst city for pedestrians (3.28), Stockton’s 3.35 has surpassed that.
Fresno: According to the non-profit’s report, Fresno is currently heralded as the 10th worst city in the United States for pedestrians and the third worst in California behind Stockton. It currently has a rate of pedestrian-related deaths of 3.25 per 100,000 people. The fact that the #10 rate is only 0.03 points shy from the #1 rate five years ago (which sat at 3.28) should be a cause of concern for everyone.
Riverside-San Bernardino: Joining the likes of Bakersfield, Stockton, and Fresno, the Riverside-San Bernardino area is placed #4 among the most dangerous cities in California for pedestrians. It’s placed #14 nationally, sitting at a pedestrian-related death of 3.11 per 100,000 people.
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