BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new study put Louisiana near the top of the list for pedestrian deaths. The study by Smart Growth America examined pedestrian deaths nationwide from 2005 to 2014, the year for which data was most recently available.
The study calculated the number of deaths with an area's "share of local commuters who walk to work" to create a Pedestrian Danger Index or PDI. The PDI of each state and major city was used create a ranking. Louisiana was named the third most dangerous state. Baton Rouge was the 19th most dangerous city with 167 pedestrian deaths over the nine years examined in the study.
"It's disappointing, but it's also an opportunity," said Doug Moore with Bike BR.
Bike BR is a Baton Rouge advocacy group for cyclist and pedestrians. Moore also serves on the new Baton Rouge Mayor's transition team, tackling transportation issues. He says the challenge is making things like sidewalks and bike lanes a priority. However, he says Mayor Sharon Weston Broome promised to do several things that could improve the city's walkability. Among those is filling the city's vacant transportation director spot and developing a pedestrian and bike master plan.
"With a few small pieces of infrastructure, we really could connect the whole city and make it safe and enjoyable to get around not in a car," said Moore.
Councilwoman Erika Green said there are several areas of concern for pedestrians in her district that she's worked to bring attention to, especially around churches, schools, and bus stops. However, Green noted that getting improvements done could be more challenging after voters rejected a tax that would have expanded the city's Green Light Plan, which is used to improve roads and infrastructure.
"I don't know how we'll get past it without any money to support the program," said Green.
However, Green says city leaders are re-examining problem spots and already discussing how to "meet the need" of pedestrian and cyclist safety.