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NPR reports on our 40-year high in pedestrian deaths

A few months ago, we saw that pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. have reached a 40-year high. Now the news is hitting mainstream outlets like NPR, who also have some ideas to fix it.

You can read NPR’s report here.

Their analysis of the issue is overall pretty good this time. They interview experts who cite fundamental issues with our car-centric infrastructure, and they also list realistic ways we can improve the problem immediately, such as traffic-calming measures that lower speed limits. This is a welcome improvement from the last time NPR reported on rising traffic deaths, where they entirely blamed it on poor policing.

I noticed one odd detail, though. While discussing how the Sun-Belt states have the highest rate of deaths, they list several theories why, including some seemingly-superficial ones like “Southern states have better weather and people spend more time outside.” They don’t mention one obvious pattern, which I said last time I wrote about this: “Those are the regions that saw most of their growth happen after the 1960s, when the government aggressively poured money into high-speed highways and sprawling suburban developments. That transportation design is highly dangerous, and it now dominates the Sun Belt”.

But if there really is a connection between better weather and higher pedestrian activity, and therefore higher pedestrian deaths, then that’s all the more reason why we need to invest in safer infrastructure.

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