St. Louisans are fortunate to enjoy lush greenspace in our numerous parks, fine food offered through restaurants and a growing fleet of food trucks, a vibrant art and music scene, and a champion baseball team. These many assets are clouded by statistics that rank St. Louis as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians. In the U.S. as a whole, 12 percent of lethal traffic accidents involve pedestrians. This number compares to 14 percent in Europe and 25 percent in China. In St. Louis, 36 percent of fatal accidents affect pedestrians. In the first six months of 2015, 15 pedestrians were killed in the city of St. Louis, many in hit-and-run incidents. These sobering statistics earned St. Louis a designation as a Focus City by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, joining 21 other U.S. cities in which pedestrian deaths are higher than the national average.
A number of factors have contributed to creating this risky environment for pedestrians, most notably road designs that prioritize automobiles over pedestrian safety, and excessive speed of car traffic. Statistics indicate that pedestrians struck by cars travelling at 20 miles per hour generally suffer minor injuries and fatalities are below 10 percent. As speeds increase, the risk to pedestrians involved in collisions rises dramatically: at 30 mph, 45 percent of pedestrians who are struck suffer fatal injuries; when struck by a car traveling above 40 mph, pedestrian mortality increases to 80 percent.
Trailnet was recently awarded a Plan4Health grant in collaboration with the HEAL Partnership to improve the safety of pedestrians in the city of St. Louis. Our efforts will begin with community meetings in the Ville, Greater Ville, Carondelet, Dutchtown, and Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhoods to learn about residents’ concerns about pedestrian safety. These meetings will be followed by walk audits and “pop-up traffic calming” demonstrations in the neighborhoods. Traffic-calming measures help to decrease vehicle speeds and provide refuges for pedestrians. These measures include infrastructure changes such as speed bumps, roundabouts and pedestrian islands.