Philly’s Most Dangerous Roads are in Poor Areas

Safe streets like this in Philadelphia are not the norm in low-income neighborhoods, a new study reveals. Photo: ##http://bicyclecoalition.org/our-campaigns/biking-in-philly/spruce-and-pine-street/#sthash.T6ljm6kF.dpbs##Bicycle Coalition##
Safe streets like this in Philadelphia are not the norm in low-income neighborhoods, a new study reveals. Photo: ##http://bicyclecoalition.org/our-campaigns/biking-in-philly/spruce-and-pine-street/#sthash.T6ljm6kF.dpbs##Bicycle Coalition##

Low-income people and people of color are disproportionately on the mean streets of Philadelphia.

A new analysis from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia showed that less white and less affluent neighborhoods comprise 49 percent of the city’s most dangerous streets — despite containing only about 35 percent of the city’s total street mileage.

Low-income neighborhoods with higher than average non-white populations show in light blue. "High Injury Network" streets shown in dark blue. Map: Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Low-income neighborhoods with higher than average non-white populations show in light blue. “High Injury Network” streets shown in dark blue. Map: Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

The analysis reviewed the city’s “High Injury Network” — the 12 percent of streets in the City of Brotherly Love that account for 50 percent of traffic injuries.

“Neighborhoods that lie in impoverished communities of color happen to be the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia, which is what we thought going into this,” the Bicycle Coalition’s Randy LoBasso told Streetsblog. “We believe it’s imperative that the city and nonprofits like ourselves continue to work in those neighborhoods and continue to prioritize these neighborhoods.”

The disparity between the haves and have-nots is alarming, but neither unusual nor unexpected. The same pattern is found in many cities. In general, high-poverty neighborhoods have about four times the traffic risk of high-income, according to a Governing Magazine analysis from 2014.

Take a look at this Center for Urban Transportation Research map of Broward County, Fla [PDF], which charts both traffic crashes and low-income neighborhoods.

D4 areas are areas Florida DOT's Fourth District have suggested for interventions. Map: CUTR at University of South Florida.
D4 areas are areas Florida DOT’s Fourth District have suggested for interventions. Map: CUTR at University of South Florida.

Same pattern in Palm Beach County.

palm beach
Map: CUTR

This is why cities are increasingly making “equity” a key platform of their Vision Zero plans.

“The first step in having a truly equitable Vision Zero program is to realize that, ‘the concentration of traffic safety problems are not accidental, but rather the result of patterns of disinvestment and under-investment in certain communities, particularly historically black, brown, and immigrant communities,'” the Coalition wrote on its blog, quoting the first principle in the Untokening’s Principles of Mobility Justice [PDF].

“Communities are facing a myriad of challenges that stem from the historic disinvestment and structural racism,” the Coalition added.

The organization has been hosting listening sessions in some of the worst affected areas.

  • LinuxGuy

    Did anyone think that many minorities live in cites? Therefore the high crash areas would be in minority areas. Simple!

  • Sincerely

    Yes, they thought about that. Even if they hadn’t, you can see in the maps above that there are clearly other factors involved.

  • spijim

    Not sure if you’ve ever been to a neighborhood meeting in a black neighborhood in Philly but they don’t have as many bike lanes because a) they don’t have advocates in those neighborhoods b) there’s usually local resistance to it and c) councilmanic prerogative.

  • Daisy’s World

    Let’s be real, we all likely need a little more movement throughout the day. Desk jobs and device attachments mean we spend a lot of time either sitting on our butts or hunched over screens. And even if we ride every day, that bent-over seated position can lead to tight hips and rounded shoulders. But the good news is that upping your step count and increasing your daily activity is incredibly easy—just follow these super simple tips for sneaking more exercise into your day. Steal one or two a day or try to hit them all this month. No matter your method, just get moving. http://www.daisylimo.com/newark-airport.html

  • HamTech87

    The political class drives and cherishes parking above all. Look at a map of North Philadelphia and you will see no bike lanes for blocks and blocks.

  • Stephen Simac

    Although the definition of low income isn’t given, the map of Broward County (where I was born and raised) looks overly blue. Admittedly there is a great deal of income inequality there, which could skew comparisons, but some of the crash bubbles that I recognized locations for are more dependent on street design and pedestrian attractions than income levels.

  • Frank Kotter

    Please read the article and examine the accompanying graphic data presentations before jumping to the comments section.

  • LinuxGuy

    I did read the story. It is time to end the racial stuff, we are all in the human race.

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