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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Idaho among safest states for pedestrians and bicyclists, report says

From The Times News:

A recently released national study ranks Idaho among the 10 safest states for pedestrians.

The nonprofit group Transportation for America released a 10-year study called Dangerous By Design, which used a formula called the Pedestrian Danger Index to rank the deadliest states for people traveling by foot. In Idaho, 119 pedestrian deaths were reported from 2000 to 2009, accounting for 6.4 percent of all vehicle-versus-pedestrian crashes.

The formula calculates the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the amount of walking in that area.

Overall, the report ranked Idaho as the ninth-safest state for pedestrians and bicyclists, with Vermont rated the safest and Florida last.

Statistics from the Idaho Transportation Departments Office of Highway Safety show that the 119 deaths represented 4.6 percent of all traffic fatalities through the decade.

Broken down by county, Transportation for Americas study lists Ada County as leading in pedestrian deaths from 2000 to 2009 with 27. Twin Falls County came in second with 13 fatalities, and Canyon County was third with 11. The 13 deaths in Twin Falls County made up 10.2 percent of all its crash fatalities.

Among the eight counties in ITD Region 4 (Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls), Cassia County followed Twin Falls County with seven pedestrian deaths, approximately 7.6 percent of all that countys crash fatalities.

Transportation for America ultimately is lobbying Congress to send more federal funds to states and municipalities to improve roads in ways that make walkers and bicyclists safer.

In November, the Twin Falls City Council formed a subcommittee to research pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly upgrades for any future road work, making the harassment of a pedestrian or bicyclist a misdemeanor crime and forming more right-of-way ordinances.

While few bicyclists and pedestrians are killed by run-ins with cars annually in south-central Idaho, the incidents can be devastating to multiple families.

In June 2009, bicyclist David Webster, 57, of Twin Falls, was struck and killed by Daniel Straub on 4000 North Road. Straub pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison in August 2010.

A Rupert man, Thomas Oliver, 45, died instantly when his bicycle collided with a Transystems truck in Burley in January 2010.

Annually, Idaho has seen about 200 vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents, with 5 percent to 10 percent leading to fatalities.

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