Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I've just arrived at the most dangerous place to be a pedestrian in the US. US-19 in New Port Richey, Florida on the state's Gulf Coast. A group of urban planners looked at the entire US roadway network and identified 60 pedestrian fatality hotspots: 1000 meter corridors where pedestrian deaths are most common. And this 1000 meter stretch topped their list. 17 fatal crashes here in a 16 year study window. Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. have been creeping up in the past decade thanks mostly to the way road infrastructure favors cars above all else. And nowhere is that more clear than right here. US-19 runs north to south, down Florida's Gulf Coast and bisects the small community of New Port Richey, cutting off its downtown from its coastal features, which means traveling east to west, or vice versa requires you to cross it. It's a type of roadway that would feel familiar to Americans. Car culture is visible everywhere from the volume of drivers to the businesses alongside it. And along US-19, drivers are moving fast. The posted speed limit on this stretch is 45 miles per hour, but driving speeds appear to be much faster than that. Traffic safety experts will tell you that speed is one of the most important factors in pedestrian safety. A street design report established that traveling up to 15 miles per hour, drivers have a wide peripheral vision. They only need 25 feet to come to a full stop and the risk of fatality if they hit someone is 2%. Once drivers are traveling over 40 miles per hour, their peripheral view narrows. They require more room to stop and the risk of fatality climbs to 85%. Enforcing speed limits can only do so much. The built environment, as we call it, is sending a message that this is for high speed travel. Robert Schneider led the pedestrian safety study that found that 97% of the roadways with high pedestrian fatalities had multiple lanes. At its widest, US-19 spans 8 lanes, which allows cars to pass and move faster than if they were stuck behind another car in a single lane. And the road is straight as an arrow. No curves that would nudge drivers to take it slow. The type of businesses along US-19 support a car-first fast driving environment: Big box stores and strip malls that sit far away from the road with large parking lots in between. And billboards displayed up high for an audience of fast drivers rather than at human scale. Arterial roads, like US-19, not quite a street but not quite a highway, were built to keep this high-speed traffic off of nearby residential neighborhoods. But this type of sprawling development grew along arterial roads, creating a dangerous mix of car-centric design with the possibility that pedestrians, cyclists, or public transit users would want to access these business centers. And it explains why arterial roads only make up 13% of US roadways but are the site of 59% of pedestrian deaths. Now, let's relate that to US-19's pedestrian design. Or... lack thereof. Not everyone can or wants to drive, but they still have to get to where they're going. I walk along US-19 about 3 or 4 times a week, to and from work. It's a lot cheaper than taking the bus. I was crossing the crosswalk, someone was turning and just bumped right into me. I had a few bumps, bruises, you know, some cracked ribs. I have a hearing disability, which causes severe vertigo and issues with balance. So it's not wise to drive. Every single day, I am afraid of either getting bumped or yelled at, or honked at, or cut off, every day. As a pedestrian trying to cross the road, I'd have to choose between this crosswalk... or this one, which is nearly 950 meters away. That's a 30 or 40 minute walk. A distance so far that it encourages risky jaywalking. There's a better term for that, it turns out. Cross at a location where there's no signal. In the profession, we tend to try to say that jaywalk is a term that was developed by the auto interests in the early 1900s to essentially shame people who were crossing in the middle of the block which had been okay, socially, prior to the 1920s, 1930s. The sidewalks are constantly interrupted by the curb cuts into parking lots, which introduce more opportunities to interact with a moving car without a signal. I first tried this crosswalk, waited for 10 minutes only to find out it didn't work, so I tried the next crossing. Robert Schneider told me that the longer you wait at a crosswalk, the more pedestrians are incentivized to cross before the signal. Finally, once you do cross, you have to traverse the length of the eight lanes, which puts US-19 in the company of 70% of the hot spot roadways in Robert Schneider's study that forced pedestrians to cross five or more lanes. And all of this is so much more treacherous when there is less light. There's a concept in urbanism called safety in numbers. The more pedestrians there are in an environment, the safer it is to be one. There aren't many pedestrians along US-19, which makes the high number of fatalities even more alarming. The lower the median household income in a neighborhood, the more common it is for pedestrian fatalities to occur there. And that's because bad street design and arterial roads like US-19 are more likely to exist in those communities. Improving pedestrian design would invite more people to walk, making it safer for people who have no other choice. Florida transportation officials are spending millions to improve this stretch of US-19, like reducing the speed limit, adding more crosswalks, adding more lights, and delaying green light to intersections. The mayor of New Port Richey told me he favors adding pedestrian and cyclist bridges here to get people off the road entirely. These are expensive solutions and unpopular among drivers. But not nearly as hard as the long term goal, which is undoing decades of car centric design like, removing lanes, adding street parking instead and developing retail and housing in parking lots. A built environment that will get more people on foot, more drivers to slow down, and will save lives. It's not a quick solution but something we need to actually be starting to move towards rather than continuing to build the sprawling development that we know is dangerous. This video is an adaptation of a Vox.com story by reporter Marin Cogan. Local officials and journalists have credited her reporting for raising awareness about pedestrian safety along this deadly stretch of road. I highly recommend you check out her story that I linked in the description below. Thanks so much for watching.