The likelihood of pedestrians being hit by a vehicle is linked to the average income of their neighborhood, a new study from the city of San Diego finds.
Analyzing pedestrian collision data between 2008 and 2012, researchers discovered people living in an area with an average annual income of less than $54,000 were ten times more likely to be struck by a car than those living in a neighborhood where the average income was at least $78,000.
“What’s happening there is that low income households tend to walk more – you know, have lower access to vehicular travel,” said Sherry Ryan with Chen Ryan, the agency tasked with collecting the data and updating the city’s pedestrian crossing policy.
The study says about one-third of San Diego’s households fall into the high income areas, but they cover about 48 percent of the city’s land area.
Another one-third of the population is in the low income category, but they share about 26 percent of San Diego’s land, meaning their areas are more densely populated.
The data shows pedestrian crashes happen 20 times more in high density areas like downtown, Hillcrest and Ocean Beach then they do in less populated areas.
Ryan blames the city’s failure to install crosswalks as a big factor in the collisions.
Resident Gustavo Arana, who takes the bus and walks everyday, has noticed the same problem.
“If the city would just invest a little money and put like a crosswalk for pedestrians,” he told NBC 7.
But the overall solution may take more, like slowing traffic and increasing visibility between drivers and walkers, Ryan said, because not just drivers are to blame.
The study found 50 percent of pedestrian crashes are the drivers’ fault, while 30 percent are caused by the walkers. The age groups most likely to get hit are those between 10 and 24 years old and people over 65, the study shows.
Ryan warns that creating a safer environment for walkers and cyclists means more stress for drivers, so a trade-off must come into play.
“We have to reallocate space on the roadway for those uses, and we have to tolerate delays for drivers,” Ryan said.
She believes that move needs to be made and said San Diego’s recent land use planning has focused on improving walkability.