In a new report from Smart Growth America, the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area landed as the fifth most dangerous metro area for walking in the United States. It was a move up from the 2016 report that listed Lakeland-Winter Haven as sixth.

“Dangerous by Design 2019” compared the number of pedestrians struck and killed against those who walk to work and the population. In the years studied, 2008-2017, Lakeland-Winter Haven had 162 pedestrian deaths, or about 2.54 fatalities per 100,000 residents. That translated as a 230.9 “2019 Pedestrian Danger Index” with Lakeland finishing slightly higher than Jacksonville.

The report notes that older adults, people of color, and those walking in low-income areas are disproportionally represented in pedestrian fatalities, “Even after controlling for differences in population size and walking rates, we see that drivers strike and kill people over age 50, Black or African American people, American Indian or Alaska Native people, and people walking in communities with lower median household incomes at much higher rates.”

Eight of the top 10 were in Florida. Here are the top 10 and their 2019 “pedestrian danger index:”

  1. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, 313.3
  2. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, 265.4
  3. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, 245.0
  4. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, 234.6
  5. Lakeland-Winter Haven, 230.9
  6. Jacksonville, 226.2
  7. Bakersfield, Calif., 217.7
  8. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 217.0
  9. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, 204.7
  10. Jackson, Miss., 192.0

The city of Lakeland’s top transportation officials were unavailable for comment this morning.

For those interested in learning more, registration is open for an online presentation about the “Dangerous By Design” findings to be held Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EST.

LPD’s Victor White, now an assistant police chief, discusses pedestrian safety in a 2011 video:

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1 Comment

  1. Please please put more lighting at the crosswalk for the Red Door on Palmetto St. That is a accident waiting to happen. Also the pedestrian walks for ppl crossing the heavily used Lk. Morton area needs to be well lit. These are just two suggestions that i see daily ( nightly) that are extremely dangerous. If the area surrounding Florida Southern College can be lit up like a stadium the city could do something for safety. Also the lamp lighting by Lakeland high school seems much brighter then the other street post.
    Thank you,
    Michelle Schloemer

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