A new report singling out the nation's most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians reaffirms Mayor Nutter's directive that City Hall's policy should be to promote a more walkable Philadelphia.
Indeed, the report issued Tuesday by Transportation for America, an advocacy group, found that roads designed to speed motorists on their way — while shortchanging pavement and crosswalks — create dangerous conditions that led to the preventable deaths of more than 47,700 pedestrians over the last decade.
Among the worst offenders were fast-growing communities across the South and Southwest, including four in Florida that headed the list: Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa.
In general, metropolitan areas that have seen rapid, sprawling development were the least pedestrian-friendly.
Two-thirds of the 52 largest metropolitan areas were ranked worse than Philadelphia and South Jersey on a "pedestrian danger index," but this region still saw nearly 1,000 pedestrians die over the last decade.
The report, titled "Dangerous by Design," makes a compelling case for continued funding in the federal transportation bill, which is now under consideration in Congress, for infrastructure improvements that could shield more pedestrians from vehicles.
Highway-safety efforts that occurred from 2000 to 2009, including mandated seat-belt use and enhanced drunk-driving enforcement, stemmed fatalities among motorists by more than 27 percent.
Experts believe similar concerted safety drives directed at pedestrians could reduce deaths and injuries among walkers.
Philadelphia, under Nutter's leadership, fortunately is already taking such steps.
The mayor has adopted what's known as a "complete streets" policy. It mandates that any road or sidewalk repairs must accommodate all uses of the public right-of-way, including by pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.
The expansion of bike lanes in Philadelphia is perhaps the most visible evidence of progress on street-level safety.
But the city should also look for opportunities to reconfigure sidewalks and crossings to better shield pedestrians. Such proposals were drawn up for a recent Center City District study.