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Memphis Named as the Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians in the US, According to Smart Growth America Report

Memphis cityscape with warning sign

Smart Growth America Names Memphis as the Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians

Memphis Earns Unwanted Top Spot in Pedestrian Safety Report

A startling report released by Smart Growth America, Dangerous by Design, has named Memphis, Tennessee, as the deadliest metro area for pedestrians. Analyzing pedestrian fatalities and injuries in US metropolitan areas, the study determines which regions pose the greatest threats to pedestrian safety.

Memphis: The Pedestrian’s Quandary

Memphis, with its robust musical culture and historical heritage, infamous for hosting the Home of Blues, the Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll, and tasty barbecues, now attains an unwanted distinction—a pedestrian’s nightmare. The data paints a worrying picture and calls for urgent intervention.

The Metrics behind The Ranking

The Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), used by Smart Growth America, evaluates cities based on the number of pedestrian deaths relative to the number of people who walk to work in the specific region. PDI reveals a chilling fact about Memphis; the city has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the country.

Key Findings of the Report

The data reveals that in the last decade, pedestrian fatalities have perpetually risen across the US, a worrying trend for city planners and community leaders. Memphis particularly stands out with the highest increase in pedestrian fatalities over this period.

The Urgent Need for Pedestrian Safety Improvements

The report’s findings reinforce the need for major changes in city planning and traffic laws. Civic authorities need to reconceptualize how streets are designed and traffic is managed to ensure pedestrian safety isn’t sacrificed for convenience or aesthetics. The use of traffic calming measures, safe crosswalks, improved street lighting, and better enforcement of existing traffic laws is recommended.

Policy Considerations For Pedestrian Safety

Implementing comprehensive street design policies that prioritize pedestrian safety over vehicle speed could make city streets more navigable and safe for walkers. A significant emphasis on vehicle speed reduction, strict enforcement of pedestrian right-of-way laws, increased visibility of pedestrians, and infrastructural alterations like widening sidewalks can help to alleviate the situation.

Effects of Unsafe Streets on The Community

Unsafe streets not only lead to injuries and fatalities but also discourage citizens from walking, leading to less active lifestyles that impact their health and well-being. This lack of active transportation also contributes to environmental degradation and traffic congestion. The impact of unsafe streets is a multifaceted problem that requires a comprehensive, safety-centric approach.


While the designation of Memphis as the most dangerous city for pedestrians is a wakeup call for the city’s officials, it is also an urgent call to action for other cities grappling with pedestrian safety issues. The report’s findings offer a roadmap for other urban areas and can be used as a tool for advocating pedestrian-friendly changes across the nation. The time for creating safer environments for our pedestrians is now.

HERE Memphis
Author: HERE Memphis

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