Life imitates art

Minus the fur-lined hood and backpack, this pedestrian crossing North Park Street on the UW-Madison campus Monday could be mistaken for the figure in the pedestrian crossing sign.

If you want to be safe walking in a city, come to Madison.

The capital city is ranked second among the country’s 100 biggest metro areas for pedestrian safety, beaten out only by Provo-Orem, Utah.

The ranking is in the 2019 “Dangerous by Design” study from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Mayor Paul Soglin touted the high safety rating on Monday as a product of the city’s “Complete Street” policy.

“Madison’s high ranking is a result of sound policy, planning, engineering, education, enforcement and other factors,” Soglin said in a statement.

Complete Street considers all road users when a road is designed, including pedestrians, bicycles, handicapped, transit, freight and other vehicles.

Other factors leading to better pedestrian safety include high-visibility crosswalks, rectangular rapid flashing beacons and audible signals for vision-impaired pedestrians, and a traffic enforcement and safety team.

The safety ranking is the reverse of the actual Top 100 Pedestrian Danger Index from Smart Growth America, with Madison ranked No. 99 and Provo-Orem ranked No. 100.

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The rankings are based on pedestrian deaths in a metro area from 2008 to 2017.

Madison had 56 deaths in that period, or 0.88 deaths per 100,000 people.

Provo-Orem had 45 deaths in that period, or 0.78 deaths per 100,000 people.

Eight of the worst 10 cities for pedestrian deaths are in Florida.

When the statistics are looked at statewide, Wisconsin is 15th out of 51 (including Washington D.C.), with Vermont the safest and Florida the deadliest.

“These accolades for our city are not a coincidence,” Soglin said. “This is the result of careful planning, outreach and collaboration with residents and staff.

“I am delighted our work is paying off, but we have more to do.”

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