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Survey ranks Phoenix ninth worst for pedestrians

PHOENIX -- It's tough to walk in the Valley.

The combined cities of Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale rank ninth in the Smart Growth America list of worst cities for pedestrians.

The survey's Pedestrian Danger Index reported that 840 pedestrians died in accidents in the three Valley cities from 2003 to 2012. While only 1.6 percent of people who live in the area get around on foot, there were 1.86 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people from 2008 to 2012.

There was no information on why Phoenix ranked so high in the study, which is supported by the AARP. C.J. Faygas, spokesperson for the Arizona AARP, explained how researchers arrived at their results.

"They base it on the share of local commuters who are walking to work, for instance, and compare it to the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out walking each and every day," Faygas said. "Then they compare it to the most recent five years of data on pedestrian fatalities."

Four Florida cities -- Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami -- occupy the top four spots as the worst cities on the list. Boston was the safest. While 5.3 percent of the people there walk to get around, the annual pedestrian deaths were 0.99 per 100,000 from 2008 to 2012.

Faygas said that there are several things that cities can do to make things safer for pedestrians. "(They can do that by) adding sidewalks and bicycle lanes, shortening crossing distances from one side of the street to the other and improving the crosswalks and making them more walking safe," said Faygas.

You can check out the survey results at SmartGrowthAmerica.org.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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