Walkers rule: In Pittsburgh slow, narrow roads can be a plus

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Maybe it just means we’ve turned off our cell phones. A study by the National Complete Streets Coalition, which believes that streets belong to more than speeding cars, has named the Pittsburgh metro area the second safest place for walkers.

Only Boston, with 18.65 on the Pedestrian Danger Index, beat this region’s 25.1 score, which was way below the national average of 52.2. The index reflects pedestrian fatality statistics and census numbers on people who walk to work.

Much has been written of the dangers of texting, not just while driving but walking. A 2012 study found that one in three pedestrians crossing high-risk intersections in Seattle were distracted by a mobile device, with texters less likely to obey lights or look before crossing.

The coalition report, “Dangerous by Design,” is more focused on how roads are built and whether they have sidewalks or well-regulated crosswalks.

It’s no surprise that some of the highest fatality rates for walkers are found in metros (such as in Florida) where wide, fast arteries give a big advantage to travelers in cars over those on foot.

But in Pittsburgh, where roads can be narrow and slow, pedestrians can coexist with bicyclists and four-wheeled vehicles. Just to be safe, though, keep that cell phone in your pocket.

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