Stepping Out

So you’ve decided you want to get your steps in outdoors, you can no longer afford your car (or you’ve never had one), or your bike’s in the shop. Whatever the reason, you’re ready to step out on foot. Good news! If you’re a human, you were built for this. Chances are you already own some footwear and have spent time in a yard, at a park, or on sidewalks. So this should come naturally. The challenge comes when mixing it up with automobiles. For these occasions, we offer some suggestions.

10 Tips for Crossing the Street

  1. It’s best not to cross the street in the United States, but if you must cross there, cross in a northern state rather than the Sun Belt, where pedestrian deaths as a percentage of walking trips are consistently higher.
  2. Cross the street while White. Crossing while Black increases your chances for being killed by 72%.
  3. Cross while under age 75. Under 50 is preferable. If you must cross the street while older, find an intersection with a longer crossing signal.
  4. Choose “complete streets,” designed to accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users rather than just drivers.
  5. Cross 100 years ago, before automobiles began crowding the streets and the notion of “jaywalking” was invented.
  6. There’s safety in numbers, so cross with a group. Join a Safe Route to Schools walking school bus or a charity run or walk. (This may require some advance scheduling.)
  7. Cross in a higher-income area and choose a neighborhood built prior to the 1950s, where blocks are shorter and streets are narrower (as long as they haven’t been “improved” by a state Department of Transportation).
  8. Cross a street with lower average vehicle speeds. Nine out of 10 pedestrians survive a crash with a vehicle going 20 mph, 5 out of 10 when hit at 30 mph, and only 1 in 10 at 40 mph or higher.
  9. If you must get hit by a vehicle, be hit by a sedan rather than a truck or an SUV, which are 2 to 3 times more likely to kill you.
  10. Cross in a location where drivers aren’t texting.

Fun fact: Between 2008 and 2017, 49,340 people were killed while travelling by foot in the United States.
See “Dangerous by Design” by Smart Growth America for more numbers and insight.

—Bridget C. Brown