Pedestrians may want to think twice before taking a stroll in South Florida. According to NBC Miami, a study by Transportation for America showed that Florida is the least safe state in the country for pedestrians and bikers. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked 3rd overall, with the Orlando-Kissimmee area and the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg area beating out South Florida. Jacksonville was ranked 4th.
The study and the report by NBC note that much of the problem may be due to infrastructure. Florida is constantly growing and the truth is that our cities may not have been prepared for such growth. State highways throughout the country have widened, and state governments have put sidewalks and bike lanes on the back-burner to accommodate traffic.
However, the study also notes budgetary spending might be an issue. According to the study, no state uses more than five percent of federal transportation funds on pedestrian-friendly mechanisms such as crosswalks, sidewalks and speed humps.
Our state must act quickly because the numbers are high and, without attention, will continue to rise. In Florida, there are 3.02 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people while the U.S. average is 1.26 people, according to Transportation for America. Over 16 percent of traffic deaths in Florida involved pedestrians, yet only 1.5 percent of state funds are used for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
With straining state budgets throughout the country, there are no guarantees that our legislature will be able to implement more safety measures without more resources. It is up to us as drivers to promote safety in all of our cities.