Around 1.35 million people worldwide die in traffic crashes each year, with over 300,000 being pedestrians. This is a crisis recognised by the UN General Assembly with a resolution adopted on 31 August declaring a second decade of action. The assembly also endorsed the Stockholm Declaration from the Third Ministerial on Road Safety in February this year. The Stockholm Declaration explicitly states that mode shift to walking and cycling are needed to hit the target of halving deaths by 2030.
While improving pedestrian safety is promising in many countries, traffic fatalities of people walking are not decreasing everywhere. In the USA, pedestrian deaths are increasing (again), a development that is very worrisome and a cautionary tale for pedestrian advocates worldwide. A new book sheds critically needed light on this unhelpful development.
New book examines the tragic rise of pedestrian deaths in America
In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that pedestrian deaths are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable and occur in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality.
These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve. Right of Way challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.