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Streets in Dense Urban Areas Safer Than Suburban 'Stroads,' Study Finds

A new study considers urban form, roadway characteristics, traffic collisions, and fatalities in the Philadelphia region, to show that the densest parts of regions are the safest places to drive and walk.
May 22, 2019, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"New research from the University of Pennsylvania [pdf] shows that denser cities and towns can save lives," reports Ryan Briggs.

"The four-year long study compared Pennsylvania Department of Transportation records of all car accidents in a five-county region with population data, socioeconomic factors, different road types, and other factors," explains Briggs. "The resulting analysis, which examined collision data from 2010 and 2014, showed that the densest parts of the region –– like downtown Philly or suburban town centers –– had lower accident rates than more sprawling areas."

One key distinction in the data emerges when comparing pedestrian and vehicle safety. "While denser sections of the suburbs had lower accident rates overall, drivers fared better than pedestrians. Densely populated areas in the suburbs and some outlying Philadelphia neighborhoods actually experienced higher rates of vehicle/pedestrian collisions than sparsely populated areas," according to Briggs.

As noted by Briggs, the study has implications for transportation planning in every corner of the Philadelphia region, where communities have been built across a broad spectrum of development and planning history. Erick Guerra, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of urban planning at Penn, is quoted in the article saying that the study should inform where and how the region grows in the future.

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Published on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 in PlanPhilly
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