Friday, June 8, 2012

Text taken from National Walking Survey
America Walks in partnership with Hunter College
September 2011

19)  Pedestrian Safety Problems 
Survey respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which each of nine items posed a problem in terms of pedestrian safety in their neighborhoods.  The response categories ranged from “very big problem,” to “somewhat of a problem,” to “only a small problem,” to “not a problem at all.” 

Listed in descending order in Table 19 below is the percent who said a given item was a “very big problem” or “somewhat of a problem.” Topping the list was distracted drivers.  More than a quarter of all respondents indicated inattentive drivers were a serious problem facing pedestrians in their neighborhoods.  Trailing closely behind was another automobile-related item – speeding motor vehicles.  The next two items concerned the scarcity of sidewalks or unsmooth walking surfaces.  Though not on the list of problems in the survey, several respondents mentioned in the open-ended “comments” section of the survey that cyclists who disobeyed traffic laws also posed a hazard to pedestrians.  

Table 19. Safety Problems for Pedestrians

Percent Who Say Very Big Problem
Percent Who Say Somewhat of a Problem
Total Percent
Drivers talking on cell phones or using other electronic devices
Speeding motor vehicles
Unsmooth sidewalks or other walking surfaces
Not enough sidewalks
Poorly-lit streets
The sidewalks are too narrow
The Walk Signs or street signals do not give me enough time to walk across the street safely
Dogs or other animals

Source: America Walks. 2011. National Walking Survey,

Coinciding with expectations, the percent who report a given problem as being serious varies by the type of neighborhood in which the respondent lives.  Residents of the most densely-populated areas are significantly more likely to indicate that distracted drivers, speeding motor vehicles, and crime are “very big problems.”   Oppositely, residents of the least-populated areas are much more likely to indicate that too few sidewalks, unsmooth walking surfaces, poorly-lit streets, and dogs constitute “very big problems.”  Also residents of lower income areas, with the exception of the two automobile-related items, are more likely to view the other seven pedestrian safety items as being more serious than residents of more affluent areas. 

Interestingly, the “instrumental walkers” and the “hybrid walkers” were far more concerned about both distracted drivers and speeding motor vehicles than either the “health/relaxation walkers” or the infrequent walkers.  This finding persists even when controlling for the population density of the neighborhood in which they reside. 

In conjunction with the nine items relating to pedestrian safety, we asked respondents whether they had “ever been hit by a car or truck” or whether they had “ever been hit by a cyclist.”  All together, 6.1 percent of the respondents reported that they had been hit by a car and 4.8 percent report having been struck by a cyclist. 
The proportion of those saying they have been hit by a car decreases with age.   Alternatively, the proportion increases as the population density of the area in which the respondent resides goes up.   Males and those whose basic orientation towards walking is mainly to get to a specific destination (the “instrumentalists”) or equally to get to a specific destination and for purposes of health and relaxation (the “hybrids”) are more likely to report having been hit by a car than those whose primary purpose in walking is for health and relaxation.

Similar to those who say they have been hit by a car, there is a positive relationship between population density and the percent of those who say they have been struck by a cyclist.  As the population of an area becomes increasingly concentrated, more people say they have been struck by a cyclist.  However, age is now curvilinearly related to saying one has been hit by a cyclist.  Among the youngest age category (18-24) and the oldest age category (65 years or older), there is a greater percent reporting being hit by a cyclist than among the age categories falling in the middle.  Finally, those who describe their walking pace as “brisk” are more likely to say they have been hit by a cyclist. 

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