America's Failing Walkability

In a recent Huffington Post article, F. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council breaks down some of the barriers for walkability in the United States.
September 4, 2014, 6am PDT | Maayan Dembo | @DJ_Mayjahn
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Henning Leweke

As the United States coming is in dead last for both transit use and walking according to National Geographic's 17-nation Greendex study, it comes as no surprise that Americans prefer driving. Benfield credits this to three major factors in his recent piece: inconvenience and danger, roadway design, and legal bias toward drivers.

Benfield points out the dangers of walking in certain sprawling metro regions that were designed to accommodate vehicles and not pedestrians. Indeed, "a report released by the nonprofit National Complete Streets Coalition earlier this year analyzed traffic fatality data over a ten-year period; the report found that the country’s top four 'most dangerous' metro regions for pedestrians are all in the state of Florida," with many other locations on the list in the sprawling Sun Belt. Unlike major cities, many of these dangerous regions lack destinations within close proximity and basic pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks or frequent crosswalks.

Moreover, many states actually blame pedestrians in vehicle-pedestrian collisions rather than drivers. Benfield delves into Raquel Nelson's case in suburban Atlanta from April 2010 to show the bias of these laws. These combined factors lead to many Americans resisting walking or transit use, and keep them enclosed in their cars.

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Published on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 in Huffington Post
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