|Wider, straighter, faster… safer? Wha???|
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. That quote works well as a bumpersticker, but after reading about a new study on the link between car crashes and low income neighborhoods, one has to wonder whether the automobile is the appropriate conveyance for a message about injustice. Neighborhood Social Inequalities in Road Traffic Injuries: The Influence of Traffic Volume and Road Design–to be published in a future issue of the American Journal of Public Health–analyzes 20k crash injuries at 17.5k intersections in Montreal from 1999 to 2003, compares crash rates in the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods (top 1/5 vs bottom 1/5), and arrives at troubling conclusions.
- If you are in a car in a poor neighborhood you are 4.3x more likely to be injured than if you were driving in a wealthier neighborhood.
- If you are biking the risk is 3.9x greater.
- If you are walking the risk is 6.3x greater.
Why? Traffic volume and speed.
- Average traffic at intersections in the poorest neighborhoods is 2.4x greater than their wealthier counterparts.
- Thirty percent of intersections in the poorest neighborhoods included a major artery, compared with just over 11 percent in the wealthier neighborhoods.