Brevard County is continuing its unfortunate traffic trend as one of the nation’s most dangerous places for pedestrians, according to the latest rankings released Tuesday by Smart Growth America. 

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville ranks No. 12 among the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, based on pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents over the five-year timeframe from 2016-20.

The Space Coast has ranked as high as No. 2 since 2017 on Smart Growth America’s annual “Dangerous by Design” list. The organization employs a statistical analysis that trends heavily toward Southern states — and Florida communities in particular.

Seven of the new list’s Top 20 metro areas are located in the Sunshine State, including Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach (No. 1), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (No. 4), Jacksonville (No. 6), Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (No. 8), ​Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (No. 14) and ​​​​​​​North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton (No. 19).

Here are the report’s 20 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrian fatalities, with Florida regions listed in boldface:

  1. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach
  2. Albuquerque, New Mexico 
  3. Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas
  4. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
  5. Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina
  6. Jacksonville
  7. Bakersfield, California
  8. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford
  9. Stockton, California
  10. Fresno, California
  11. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  12. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
  13. Tucson, Arizona
  14. (tie) Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach
  15. (tie) Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California
  16. Columbia, South Carolina
  17. Greenville-Anderson, South Carolina
  18. El Paso, Texas
  19. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton
  20. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

Last year, Smart Growth America said eight of the nation’s 11 most-deadly pedestrian areas were located in Florida, led by Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford at No. 1. That drew criticism from former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault.

“The Dangerous by Design report considers select data points, which ultimately results in an inaccurate portrayal of the safety conditions across Florida’s transportation system,” Thibault said in a March 2021 media statement.

“In addition, the report compares states and metropolitan areas across the nation, but does not take into account important geographic and demographic nuances, resulting in a one size fits all methodology for the assessment,” Thibault said.

Asked for comment about FDOT criticism, Osborne defended her organization’s rankings.

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“Florida has always taken issue with the methodology, though our methodology always took into consideration population, population growth and the amount of time people spend walking. It did not take account for weather because SGA does not believe that any weather pattern should deny people safety,” Osborne said.

“The point is the state’s record and trajectory is bad. We hope with this report, Florida spends more time focusing on their poor safety results and making improvements instead of making inaccurate representations about our report’s methodology,” she said.

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Smart Growth America announced its 2022 rankings are not comparable to previous editions because the COVID-19 pandemic altered commuting and travel patterns. 

The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization recently ranked Brevard’s Top 5 highest pedestrian-crash corridors from 2016-20, not including Interstate 95. The list:

  1. Palm Bay Road from Babcock Street to Robert J. Conlan Boulevard in Palm Bay (4.6 annual crashes).
  2. U.S. 1 from State Road 528 in Cocoa to State Road 405 in Titusville (4.2 annual crashes).
  3. State Road A1A from State Road 520 in Cocoa Beach to North Atlantic Avenue in Cape Canaveral (4.0 annual crashes).
  4. State Road A1A from Eau Gallie Boulevard in Indian Harbour Beach to the Pineda Causeway in South Patrick Shores (3.2 annual crashes).
  5. State Road 50 from Interstate 95 to U.S. 1 in Titusville (3.0 annual crashes).

“The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization, which provides regional transportation planning for the Palm Bay-Melbourne and Titusville urbanized areas and coordinates planning efforts for local jurisdictions and transportation authorities, is currently reviewing Smart Growth America’s recent study and its correlation to Brevard County pedestrian crash data,” said Abby Hemenway, Space Coast TPO public information and outreach manager.

This article first appeared on FloridaToday.com

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