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September 2, 2014

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National study reconfirms Las Vegas is a dangerous place for pedestrians

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Steve Marcus

A pedestrian uses a Danish offset as she crosses Maryland Parkway near UNLV Monday, October 7, 2011. A Danish offset is in the median area where the crosswalk makes an S turn, slowing pedestrians down and making them look at traffic before they cross.

Las Vegas isn’t the most dangerous city in the United States to walk, but there’s plenty of room for improvement here, according to a national report released today.

Making streets safer for pedestrians

Several Complete Streets projects are in motion around the Las Vegas Valley.

A fuel tax increase approved by the Clark County Commission last fall paved the way for a list of projects that could include Complete Streets elements. There are 23 projects slated for Clark County, Henderson and North Las Vegas. They include:

• Center Street from Burkholder Boulevard to Lake Mead Parkway in Henderson

• Losee Road at Lone Mountain Road in North Las Vegas

• Paradise Road and Swenson Street from Russell Road to Sahara Avenue in Clark County

• Desert Inn Road from Paradise Road to Mojave Road in Clark County

“Dangerous By Design,” issued by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America, ranked Las Vegas-Paradise as the country’s 13th most dangerous metro area in which to walk.

The report said there were 1.85 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people in Las Vegas-Paradise during the measured time frame, 2008-13, which led to a pedestrian danger index of 102.67.

The pedestrian danger index, which measures the likelihood of a person on foot being hit by a vehicle and killed, is calculated with the percentage of local people who walk to work and data on pedestrian fatalities as factors, according to the study’s authors.

“The rise of pedestrian fatalities on our roadways is an epidemic that requires immediate attention,” U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said in a statement. “In the Las Vegas Valley, we continue to see accidents and deaths on area streets and roads. The senseless injury and loss of life require a community effort.”

The most dangerous metro area for walkers in the United States was Orlando, Fla., with a pedestrian danger index of 244.28.

The study’s authors said communities in the nation’s Sun Belt, especially the South, ranked worse than other areas of the country.

“These places grew in the postwar period, mostly through rapid spread of low-density neighborhoods that rely on wider streets with higher speeds to connect homes, shops and schools — roads that tend to be more dangerous for people walking,” the authors said.

From 2003 to 2012, the national pedestrian danger index was 52.2, and the average annual pedestrian fatality rate was 1.56 per 100,000 people. The safest metro area in the nation for walkers was Boston-Cambridge, with an average of 0.99 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 of population and a pedestrian danger index of 18.65, the study said.

Las Vegas-Paradise fared worse in the “Dangerous By Design” list of metro areas ranked by percentage of traffic deaths that were pedestrians from 2003 to 2012.

With more than 20 percent of fatal traffic victims being pedestrians, Las Vegas-Paradise ranked as the ninth worst metro area in the nation.

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island was the nation’s worst metro area, with nearly a third of all traffic-related deaths being pedestrians.

The National Complete Street Coalition is made up of a variety of organizations, including AARP, the National Association of Realtors, the American Public Transportation Association and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

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