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New study puts Austin in top 25 most dangerous cities for pedestrians

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Houston ranks No. 7 on the overall worst places for pedestrians. Photo via Seattle Steve

As the City of Austin continues to discuss new ways to tackle our transportation issues, a new study puts the Austin metro area in the top 25 most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

"Dangerous by Design 2014," a study conducted National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America and with the help of the AARP, analyzed more than 47,000 pedestrian deaths across the country from 2003-2012. The research shows that Austin — and Texas in general — is a relatively dangerous place to be a pedestrian.

Analyzing the 50 largest metropolitan areas, the study puts Austin-Round Rock at No. 24 on the overall Pedestrian Danger Index. From 2003-2012, 14 percent of all traffic deaths were pedestrians.

 Analyzing the top 50 largest metropolitan areas, the study puts Austin-Round Rock at No. 24 on the overall Pedestrian Danger Index. 

Of the top 25 worst U.S. metro areas for walkers, four are in Texas. While Austin does fall near the middle of the Pedestrian Danger Index, something that could be seen as a positive sign, the study seems to point to a bigger trend: the bigger a city in Texas gets, the worse the pedestrian ranking. Houston comes in first at No. 7; Dallas-Fort Worth at No. 12; and San Antonio at No. 18.

With so many metro areas ranking poorly, it should come as no surprise that Texas ranks No. 10 on the statewide Pedestrian Danger Index. From 2003-2012, more than 34,000 Texans died in traffic accidents, the second most in the country. (California came in first.)

So who is most likely to fall victim to a traffic death? According to the study, adults over the age of 65 and people of color are most at risk.

And while the study shows traffic deaths among children are down, researchers say it's not because of more walkable cities. "This decline is often attributed to a general drop in physical activity. Though the drop in deaths is certainly a bright spot in our analysis, it is tempered by the corresponding rise in childhood obesity and associated chronic diseases related to lack of physical activity."

In order to curb this growing trend, the study suggests lowering speed limits, adding more responsive crossing signals and approaching future street design to benefit pedestrians first. To read the full study, head to Smart Growth America's website. To see an interactive map of pedestrian deaths in Austin, please go here.

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