Raleigh-Cary Ranks as 6th Most Dangerous Metro for Pedestrians

November, 09, 2009, by Jedidiah

Raleigh-Cary Ranks as 6th Most Dangerous Metro for Pedestrians
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A study by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (who?) has ranked the Raleigh-Cary area as the 6th most dangerous metropolitan for pedestrians. Our area also has the 6th highest number of annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents at 2.02. Only 1.6% of the workers in our region walk to work and our government ranks 30th in pedestrian spending.

The study points out that a large percentage of the highest ranked cities are located in the South. This isn’t a surprise as most Southern cities lack solid public transportation and rely heavily on automobiles and highways for transit.

Thoroughfares such as Dawson, McDowell and Person Streets contribute greatly to the danger of pedestrians in the downtown grid. Try walking across these streets at rush hour (or many other hours of the day) without starting to sprint halfway across. As downtown booms, more attention needs to be spent on the pedestrian and the biker, including more bike lanes and better crosswalk conditions in many locations.

This is a telling quote: “the 52 largest metro areas (over 1 million population) averaged annual investment of federal funds on bicycle and pedestrian projects of just $1.39 per person.” I wonder what the price per person spent on highways is? I’m sure it’s a bit higher.

Full list of the 52 most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

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Politics, Other posts by Jedidiah.


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  • Adrian Hands
    11/09 11:20 PM

    “America’s Smartest City” needs to do better!

  • smitty
    11/09 11:33 PM

    Orlando actually has a pretty nice bus system, too bad everything else kinda sucks.

  • smitty
    11/09 11:36 PM

    Safest cities for pedestrians are also the coldest, too cold to walk to work.  This list is silly.

  • Elliot Acosta
    11/10 09:06 AM

    Living in those areas for 8 years I can say with confidence that Orlando and Tampa both indeed suck in terms of walking…. and a couple other things as well.

  • RaleighRob
    11/10 10:33 AM

    Uh, smitty, I doubt it has anything to do with cold.  It’s just most northern cities were developed before people started worshiping the almighty automobile. 

    Even in Raleigh, in the parts that were developed before the car, you can see the difference as compared to the suburban parts.  I’m also pretty sure being lumped in with Cary (and other Wake suburbs) made our score even worse. 

    I’m not sure I understand the second-to-last paragraph of this article though.  Dawson, McDowell and Person are busy streets, but they still follow a downtown grid with sidewalks, crosswalks, right-angle intersections, and lights.  I’m sure it’s areas like Capital Blvd, Crossroads, and Crabtree that put us on this list.

  • smitty
    11/10 10:41 AM

    Uh, RaleighROb, all of those cities have been around a lot longer than cars.  Buses run over people too, at least in Chapel Hill.

  • matt w
    11/10 11:24 AM

    RaleighRob, anything to back that up or is it just conjecture that you pulled from thin air?

    Glenwood South is far, far, far more dangerous than anywhere you just listed.  So is downtown.  Jaywalking is constant in both areas (I’m guilty of this myself).  Go stand outside one of the bars on Glenwood on Friday night, and watch how many people almost get tagged by cars.  It’s ridiculous.

    But you are right, I’m sure that Crabtree and Crossroads are much more dangerous and they are the reason Raleigh is so high on this list.  When was the last time you even went any of those places?

  • smitty
    11/10 11:37 AM

    According to NHTSA, “about 25 percent of fatally injured pedestrians have a BAC greater than .20”.  I hope they weren’t walking to work.

  • CR
    11/10 11:45 AM

    I walk downtown and around Glenwood South all the time and have never felt unsafe.  Capital, Crossroads, and Crabtree are completely different animals and I pity anyon who has to walk in these areas.

  • matt w
    11/10 12:10 PM

    Not to belabor the point, but what specifically makes you feel unsafe about walking around Crabtree or Crossroads?  I have less experience with Crossroads but I have walked Crabtree extensively since I live near the area, and the only areas that I would say are potentially unsafe are the crossings between the Marriott and the mall across Glenwood (which has a huge crosswalk and a 60s walk-only crossing), and Blue Ridge, which also has a huge crosswalk.  Capital I will give you—wouldn’t want to walk across the street there at all, either ITB or OTB.

    On Glenwood, the problem is drunk drivers that forget to stop at red lights until the last second, and drunk pedestrians that don’t care to look for cars at all.  These are not problems whatsoever at Crabtree or Crossroads.

  • Truth be Told
    11/10 12:37 PM

    Thank you, Matt, for pointing out this out.

    “Over the years it’s become the most dangerous pedestrian street in the state with the highest amount of pedestrian accidents,” Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder said.

    He wasn’t referring to Capital or Crabtree or Crossroads, rather to a stretch of road that for decades has had painted crosswalks through every intersection, walk/don’t walk signs, lots of traffic signals, and a relatively light load of traffic that moves at relatively slow speed.


    The immediate response to any story on this site seems to be unfounded criticism of any part of the city that is not within a mile or two of city hall.  How about actually thinking first? Actually look at how this study calculated its pedestrian danger index.  http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign/methodology/  This is a pretty superficial analysis and hardly seems appropriate when you actually look at how pedestrians are maimed and killed.

    I am not about to claim that this city is pedestrian friendly, even downtown there are places where the sidewalks just stop and you are forced into the street. But is should be obvious that cars aren’t constantly running up onto sidewalks and striking walkers, though that does happen on rare occassion.  As already pointed out, many pedestrians that are struck are completely hammered and find their way into traffic.  In many other pedestrian/vehicle accidents, the drivers are completely hammered, and unless you put jersey barriers between the sidewalk and street, these fools will kill walkers.  On Hillsborough Street, the problem is lots of young people, sober and not, taking foolish risks like darting between traffic mid-block.

  • arthurb3
    11/10 02:40 PM

    True. I think that part of the problem is people are not use to walking here and don’t know the “rules”- cross only at crosswalks. Wait for the light. Watchout for traffic. Stay on the sidewalk except when crossing.

  • miamiblue
    11/10 03:14 PM

    It seems fairly obvious that the Raleigh streets with the highest concentration of pedestrian traffic (i.e. Hillsborough, Glenwood) will have the highest number of pedestrian accidents. More people walking around = more chances for an accident.

    But what about the areas that have low concentrations of pedestrians, yet where pedestrian accidents frequently occur? For instance, there have been three pedestrian fatalities within a half mile of where I work within the past two years. http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2681503/

    This area is very dangerous for pedestrians, and there are plenty of other heavily traveled streets like it in Raleigh. Some people walk to lunch from the nearby office parks and from the bus stops to various businesses. Yes jaywalking is a problem, but it is a problem because there are not enough crosswalks. Where there are crosswalks, it is still pretty scary crossing six lanes of traffic, where everyone wants to beat the light. Nearly every day I see someone playing Frogger across Wake Forest/Falls of Neuse between Bland Rd. and Hardimont. A person is very small compared to six lanes of traffic.

    I would guess that Capital Blvd and Glenwood (north of 440) have some of the same issues. These roads were not built for people, they were built for cars.

  • Shan
    11/10 03:23 PM

    I don’t think walking downtown is the issue here (although you do have to watch for folks when they are turning) - I think its more of an issue in areas of the city where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. Those areas are not pedestrian friendly in any sense!

  • Truth be Told
    11/10 04:27 PM


    In your first case,


    there was a crosswalk, but kids ran out into the street against the light and two were killed.

    In your second case,


    there was no painted crosswalk, but the sidewalk had been ripped up for repair.  I don’t think how this played into the accident was ever fully determined.

    I don’t think either of these incidents support your arguments. How about a example where the roads and sidewalks were in normal conditions and the pedestrian was following the rules and still got run over, and not by a drunk or someone waaaay too incompetent to be driving (like the old lady who ran right over the motorcyclist in the Whole Foods parking lot yesterday?)  These cases are very hard to come by.

  • Adrian Hands
    11/10 05:12 PM

    Rule #1: Yield to pedestrians.

  • arthurb3
    11/12 11:39 AM

    Again, pedestrians need to learn to cross at lights or crosswalks and no other place.

  • Adrian Hands
    11/12 12:51 PM

    Again, motorists are to yield to pedestrians.

  • Truth be Told
    11/12 01:36 PM

    No Adrian, you are wrong, Rule #1 is it is the pedestrian that is obliged to yield to the motorist.

    The local code is silent, but the state law is:

    § 20-174. Crossing at other than crosswalks; walking along highway.

    (a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

    (b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

    (c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation
    pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

    (d) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic.

    (e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, every driver of a vehicle shall
    exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give
    warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon
    observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway. (1937, c.
    407, s. 135; 1973, c. 1330, s. 33.)

    That last section does say that just because a pedestrian won’t obey the law, the motorist doesn’t have the right to just run over him.  However the first section clearly gives the right-of-way to the motorist.

    Maybe Rule #1 needs to be changed.

  • arthurb3
    11/12 03:08 PM

    Wow. But pedestrians need to look out for themselves and not just expect people are going to stop. The motorcyclist who was run over by the old lady at Wholefoods yesterday would be an exception because she would have run over either a pedestrian if they were in the same location, too.

  • miamiblue
    11/12 05:25 PM


    That isn’t my point. Where did I say anyone was/was not using crosswalks properly/improperly or jaywalking, etc.? My point is that in areas where pedestrians are not the norm (the areas I referenced), motorists are not EXPECTING to see people crossing the street. There is a lot of traffic, and people are in a big hurry to beat the light. Crosswalks are not magic forcefields that protect pedestrians. On large, heavily traveled roads such as Falls of Neuse, pedestrian bridges would be ideal. However, the area is not developed in a pedestrian friendly manner, so people would still be crossing inappropriately because it wouldn’t be possible to place a pedestrian bridge at every intersection.

    However, in this city, since it is my opinion that most of the city is not pedestrian friendly, people are not expecting to see pedestrians, even in places where they are highly concentrated. That is dangerous. We all need to be more aware of our surroundings, whether in our cars or on our feet. We all need to follow the respective rules of the road, regardless of whether we are motorists or pedestrians (or both). Especially in areas that are not really designed for travel on foot. End of story.

    In any case, I’m glad we made this list. People are talking about an issue that needs attention, and that is always a good thing.

  • Chad Brice
    11/17 01:09 PM

    Looks like New Raleigh needs to host a Tweed Ride to promote safety.

  • Adrian Hands
    11/28 11:56 PM

    Pedestrians, and everyone else, crossing wherever they want/need to:


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