Walker’s Paradise: The 20 Safest Cities for Pedestrians in 2021

Children walking in a crosswalk on their way to school.

This fall, many Americans are returning to their daily commutes. While commuting by foot is a nerve-wracking experience in some places, pedestrians in these cities walk on the safest streets in the country. 

School is officially back in session for students across the nation. Though concerns over the shifting landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic are delaying returns to in-person learning in some areas of the country, many students are headed back to the classroom for the first time in well over a year. 

Of course, this means that the daily commute to school is back as well. While busing remains the most common mode of school transportation, walking to school offers a refreshing, COVID-safe alternative for those who are able. Unfortunately, traffic conditions on many U.S. city streets pose risks to pedestrians of all ages, especially children. Dangerous streets often feature too few crosswalks and speed limits that are too high for the surrounding population density, making the streets less navigable for pedestrians. 

Some cities, however, are committed to making city streets less risky for pedestrians through direct community engagement and improved street design. Community initiatives like National Walk to School Day, which specifically focuses on students, encourage both physical activity and pedestrian safety. To celebrate back-to-school season in 2021, the data science team at Insurify poured through its database of over 4 million car insurance applications to determine the safest metropolitan areas for pedestrians in the U.S.

Icon map showing the 20 safest cities for pedestrians in America.

Insights

  • National average. An average of 66.3 out of every 100,000 drivers across the 80 cities examined in this study have a prior citation for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.
  • Courteous from coast to coast. Every region of the country—the South, West, Northeast, and Midwest—has at least four cities among the 20 safest cities for pedestrians. No single region has more than six cities in the top 20. 
  • Caps off to the nation’s capital. Both Washington, D.C. and neighboring Arlington, Virginia rank among the top 20 safest U.S. cities for pedestrians. While folks are always busy in America’s capital, drivers there still take more care than most to stop for pedestrians. 
  • The worst city for pedestrians. Chesapeake, Virginia is the most dangerous city in America for pedestrians. Despite having relatively few pedestrians due to low walkability, 155.2 out of every 100,000 Chesapeake drivers have an on-record citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian. This rate is a full 134 percent higher than the national average. 

Methodology

Data scientists at Insurify, a site to compare auto insurance rates, referred to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications as well as public data from WalkScore to determine the safest cities for pedestrians in the United States. Cities were ranked using a proprietary scoring algorithm on factors including the number of drivers per 100,000 motorists who have a failure to yield to pedestrians citation on record, as well as overall walkability. Cities received a Pedestrian Safety Score ranging from 0 to 100. Cities with greater walkability and a proportionally lower number of drivers with a failure to yield to a pedestrian violation received higher scores. 

When applying for car insurance, applicants disclose their city and state of residence and any past violations on their driving record, including citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Insurify’s analysts compared the number of drivers with a failure to yield to a pedestrian citation on record to the total number of drivers across the 80 most populous metropolitan areas in America. 

WalkScore compiles walkability data on U.S. metro areas, including pedestrian safety metrics such as population density, average block length, and intersection density, as well as overall route availability and the number of amenities accessible by foot from a given location. Since cities with high walkability tend to have a large proportion of pedestrians, a city with a high walkability score and a low rate of drivers with pedestrian-threatening citations scored higher in the rankings 

The Safest Cities for Pedestrians in 2021

20. Washington, District of Columbia

  • Safety score: 67.4
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 105.0 per 100,000 motorists (59% higher than the national average)

19. Tampa, Florida

  • Safety score: 67.7
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 32.8 per 100,000 motorists (51% lower than the national average)

18. Cleveland, Ohio

  • Safety score: 67.8
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 59.7 per 100,000 motorists (10% lower than the national average)

17. Anaheim, California

  • Safety score: 68.3
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 45.6 per 100,000 motorists (31% lower than the national average)

16. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Safety score: 69.7
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 19.9 per 100,000 motorists (70% lower than the national average)

15. Dallas, Texas

  • Safety score: 70.3
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 16.1 per 100,000 motorists (76% lower than the national average)

14. San Jose, California

  • Safety score: 72.2
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 18.7 per 100,000 motorists (72% lower than the national average)

13. Arlington, Virginia

  • Safety score: 72.3
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 72.7 per 100,000 motorists (10% higher than the national average)

12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Safety score: 72.6
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 54.7 per 100,000 motorists (17% lower than the national average)

11. Baltimore, Maryland

  • Safety score: 73.8
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 56.4 per 100,000 motorists (15% lower than the national average)

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Safety score: 76.5
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 32.6 per 100,000 motorists (51% lower than the national average)

9. St. Louis, Missouri

  • Safety score: 78.3
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 45.1 per 100,000 motorists (32% lower than the national average)

8. Buffalo, New York

  • Safety score: 78.6
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 49.6 per 100,000 motorists (25% lower than the national average)

7. San Francisco, California

  • Safety score: 82.0
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 93.1 per 100,000 motorists (41% higher than the national average)

6. Seattle, Washington

  • Safety score: 83.7
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 52.1 per 100,000 motorists (21% lower than the national average)

5. Portland, Oregon

  • Safety score: 85.3
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 27.6 per 100,000 motorists (58% lower than the national average)

4. Chicago, Illinois

  • Safety score: 89.7
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 43.7 per 100,000 motorists (34% lower than the national average)

3. Miami, Florida

  • Safety score: 91.1
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 40.2 per 100,000 motorists (39% lower than the national average)

2. Newark, New Jersey

  • Safety score: 93.2
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 37.1 per 100,000 motorists (44% lower than the national average)

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Safety score: 100.0
  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian: 17.2 per 100,000 motorists (74% lower than the national average)

 

If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to request the data, please contact insights@insurify.com.

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