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The Daily Need

Dangerous by design

A new study conducted by the transportation advocacy group, Transportation for America, finds that crossing the road in many parts of the country can be, well, deadly. Between 2002 and 2009, more than 47,000 people were killed and 688,000 were injured while walking on American roads. Children, the elderly and the poor are more likely to be killed than other groups, the study said.

To see what they’re talking about, take a look at this Blueprint America report (and below) showing just how dangerous it is to cross the Buford Highway, a major thoroughfare outside of Atlanta, Ga. Buford is the poster child for the kind of multilane highway, lined with stripmalls and suburban housing tracts, originally built with cars — not pedestrians — in mind. It’s frightening to see how risky it is for pedestrians to get from one side of it to the other.

Of course there are thousands of roads just like Buford Highway across the country. The new report comes with a listing of the 10 most dangerous urban areas to be on foot (greater Orlando takes the prize as the most hazardous city to walk in) and with an interactive map, showing where fatalities are most likely to occur. It also comes with a plea to some cost-cutting members of Congress currently drafting federal transportation legislation: Don’t eliminate the relatively meager funding for sidewalk building and other measures to protect pedestrians and bikers from cars.

And safer roads may not just be a public safety issue. As Americans get fatter (check out this latest study linking obesity and car culture), the public health community increasingly advises that we leave our cars behind and get out for more healthy walks and bike trips.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

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