On April 5, 2022, a speeding pickup truck struck a 35-year-old man while he was walking his dog in Houston, making him one of 117 pedestrians killed in that city last year. Eleven days later in Brooklyn, a driver ran a red light and killed a 31-year-old woman in a marked crosswalk near her home. On a spring day in Los Angeles this year, a hit-and-run driver left a 72-year-old man dead in the street. All told, motor vehicles killed more than 7,500 people while they were walking to church, a grocery store, a bus stop or elsewhere in the U.S. last year, according to a June analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Pedestrian safety — or the lack thereof — is tied to larger economic and social forces. “There’s a perfect correlation between poverty and danger,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, a Smart Growth America project. A report SGA issued last year found that those living in the lowest-income census tracts are 3.3 times more likely to die in a roadway collision than those living in the highest-income areas. Low-income neighborhoods experience more than 30% of all pedestrian deaths, according to the 2022 SGA report. Black or African American pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed as White pedestrians.

A study published this year in the American Journal of Public Health looking at pedestrian safety in the U.S. between 2010 and 2019 found “a significant relationship between structural racism via historical redlining and contemporary, neighborhood-level inequities in pedestrian fatalities across the United States.”

The pandemic only exacerbated those inequities, the SGA report says, noting that “Low-income communities are significantly less likely to have access to parks and other opportunities for safe recreational walking and are less likely to have sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and street design to support safer, slower speeds.”

Smart Cities Dive’s analysis of fatal pedestrian accident data shows that even in communities that have lower overall pedestrian death rates, people of color and people in low-income communities are killed at a higher rate than other residents. This article, the first of a three-part series, looks at three cities working to address the disparities as they aim to reduce pedestrian deaths overall.

Read the full article about preventing pedestrian deaths by Dan Zukowski, Julia Himmel, and Shaun Lucas at Smart Cities Dive.