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Pedestrians walk past a "Look!" sign on the crosswalk at the intersection of 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. in New York, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Crossing the street in New York City is complicated: Even when it's one-way, you should look both ways, and stop texting for a few seconds. Thatís what city transportation officials tell pedestrians who often miss getting hit in the chaotic every-which-way-including-loose mill of vehicles, bicycles, scooters and sometimes, carriage horses. Theyíre making their point visible with ìLOOK!î signs stenciled at 110 of the most dangerous intersections in the city's five boroughs. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) ORG XMIT: NYSW107 / Seth Wenig AP

in the 10-year period that ended in 2012, 47,025 people were killed in vehicle collisions while walking.

That's 16 times the number of Americans who died in natural disasters ?? earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornados.

That's according to a new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition, a national nonprofit group that advocates for streets and roads that safely accommodate all users.

"Dangerous by Design 2014" finds that, as in 2011 when it issued its last report, the four most dangerous cities for pedestrians are all in Florida: Orlando, Tampa-St.Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami. Also, as in previous years, Sunbelt cities, especially those in the South, tend to be most dangerous for pedestrians. Rounding out the top 10 were Memphis, Birmingham, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix and Charlotte.

"We're at an important time for transportation nationally," said Roger Millar, director of the National Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. The report was released in conjunction with AARP and the American Society of Landscape Architects. "Safety for all users must be a priority in transportation investment."

Noting that Congress is currently debating a national transportation funding bill, Nancy LeaMond, AARP's executive vice president for the State and National Group, urged Congress to pass the Safe Streets Act when it authorizes a new funding bill. That act would change the way federally funded roads are designed and built, ensuring that state and local transportation agencies adopt a policy to consider all users.

"Simply put, the streets in our communities are not working for older Americans," LeaMond said during a conference call. "Too many seniors simply cannot safely walk or take public transportation to their destination."

She said it's important to act now, noting that by 2030, 10 states will have more residents 65 and older than school age children. "That's never happened in our nation's history in even one state," she said. Design changes that serve older Americans will also be beneficial to all other pedestrians, she said.

The federal government and Congress have a role to play in reducing pedestrian road deaths, Millar said: 68% of pedestrian fatalities occur on federal aid roads, which are built with federal dollars and designed to federal specifications.

Florida has been working aggressively since 2011 to shed the crown of deadliest state for pedestrians, said Bill Hattaway, a top official with the Florida Department of Transportation. He said that seniors and tourists are not disproportionately represented among pedestrian road fatalities in his state. Rather, he said, "Our cities grew up after World War II, when we had much more of a focus on moving folks in cars."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Congressional action urged for pedestrian safety

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