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Walking in Phoenix Can Mean Taking Your Life in Your Hands

Phoenix's roads are the most dangerous in the state for pedestrians, but the city is taking little action to make them safer.
April 8, 2019, 12pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Alan Stark

Agnel Philip and Bree Burkitt take a closer look at pedestrian safety in Phoenix. Of Arizona cities with populations greater than 10,000, Phoenix has the highest pedestrian death rate, and the number of deaths doubled between 2010 and 2017.

The city has put in 20 special crossing signals called HAWK signals, but Philip and Burkitt say the locations of the signals do not correspond with crash hot spots:

Despite the signals' potential to save lives, The Republic analysis showed the city is installing them in areas where no pedestrians were seriously injured or killed in recent years. Among the 23 signals the city has built or plans to build this year, half aren't within 300 feet of serious injury or fatality crashes during the period The Republic analyzed.

They also note that the most dangerous areas for pedestrians are on wide, high-speed roads with few crossings, which are common features of main thoroughfares in the city. While half of pedestrian deaths in Arizona involved individuals who were intoxicated, the speed of vehicles is also a key factor in the severity of pedestrian crashes, and activists are calling for design changes that would narrow roads and slow traffic.

"Dozens of cities across the United States have begun redesigning their streets in response to surging pedestrian death rates in recent years, setting a target of zero roadway deaths. But in Arizona, there's almost no commitment to that goal," say Philip and Burkitt.

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Published on Monday, April 1, 2019 in AZ Central
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