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Jacksonville ranks 6th most dangerous city in America for pedestrians

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville is the sixth most deadly city in the US for pedestrians according to a new report published by Smart Growth America.

FHP records show this year there have been 26 pedestrian fatalities and 232 injuries in Jacksonville.

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If the trend continues at this pace, 2022 would see the most deaths and injuries since at least 2018.

Beth Osmond with Smart Growth America said the country as a whole has seen its roads become more dangerous since the start of the pandemic.

“The thing that happened pretty much just to the United States was we killed more people on our roadways,” said Osmond.

But the rest of world saw traffic fatalities dip.

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Osmond blames road designs in the United States, which she says encourage high rates of speed in areas with heavy foot traffic.

It’s a problem she said was exacerbated by the pandemic.

“When traffic congestion went away, we saw speeds go up. And when speeds go up in a conflict-rich environment, mistakes are more likely and mistakes are more deadly,” said Osmond.

Osmond said the problem could be addressed by redesigning a relatively small portion of the roads in cities.

Typically, 70% of fatal accidents occur on just 15% of roadways.

In Jacksonville, the intersection of Youngman Circle and Blanding Boulevard topped the list in 2020 with 113 crashes.

Just two miles North on Blanding Blvd., surveillance video captured the hit-and-run accident that took the life of 45-year-old Timothy Knowles on June 5 this year.

His sister, Cariann Melvi,n is still searching for his killer.

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“Since my brother passed, I’ve had people reach out to me that have said they lost a sister or somebody else just within that one-mile radius on Blanding,” said Melvin.

The Dangerous by Design report also found Native Americans and Black Americans are disproportionately killed in pedestrian accidents.

Native Americans are killed at three times the rate of white Americans, while Black Americans are twice as likely to be killed while walking than white Americans.

Osmond said a lack of access to vehicles among those demographics is one piece of the puzzle, but once again, road design is a key factor.

“We tend to construct roadways that go through their communities for the benefit of people outside of their communities,” said Osmond.

Osmond said cities like Jacksonville have a choice to make going forward: Rethink our roads or expect the carnage to continue getting worse.

“And what we have to do as a society is just state outright: Is it not worth saving people’s lives because you have to slow down?” said Osmond.

Anyone with information on the June 5 hit-and-run that took the life of Timothy Knowles is encouraged to call Jacksonville Highway Patrol at 904-695-4000 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

Melvin has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover her brother’s funeral costs.

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