If you live in Florida and don't have a car, you may want to invest in a heavy steel overcoat. Florida is home to four of the top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians — Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami. In the wake of the Raquel Nelson case, the New York Times has turned its reporting eye on pedestrian fatalities, and the scene on Florida streets is pretty depressing:
Sidewalks are viewed as perks, not necessities. Crosswalks are disliked and dishonored. And many drivers maniacally speed up when they see someone crossing the street.
The danger rankings are based on pedestrian fatality rates compared to the percentage of walking commuters. Most people in these Florida cities don't walk to work (which may help explain why there are so few crosswalks), but those who do have a relatively high chance of a fatal accident. And bus commuters may be at an even bigger risk, given the haphazard placement of bus stops:
Bus riders are particularly vulnerable, mostly because bus stops are often between intersections on long, wide roads and are far from stoplights. People race across to get to the other side, rather than walk (in steamy weather or after a long day’s work) a quarter- or half-mile to a stoplight.
This is what Cindy Berdeguez did here the other day. Lugging plastic bags and a backpack, she frantically dashed across Semoran Boulevard, a six-lane state road where some cars and trucks whiz by at 60 miles per hour (the speed limit is 45).
Orlando's traffic coordinator claims the city is trying to change its car-centered culture. But pedestrian danger disproportionately affects minorities, children, and the elderly, not exactly powerful or well-respected voting blocs historically.