Fresno is the 10th deadliest city in the U.S. for pedestrians: New study

The study, which used data from 2016 to 2020, blames road design, saying many cities prioritize speed instead of safety.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022
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A new study ranks Fresno among the top 10 most dangerous cities in the U.S. for pedestrians. But the risk is not the same for everyone.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new study ranks Fresno among the top 10 deadliest cities in the U.S. for pedestrians.

But the risk is not the same for everyone, or every part of the city.

Joe Martinez of Fresno is now advocating to change that.

He lost his son, Paul, in June of 2013.

The 21-year-old was crossing the street near Clinton and Blackstone Avenues when a driver going over the speed limit hit and killed him.

Since then, Martinez has been pushing to make streets safer.

Last week he spoke out following the release of Smart Growth America's study of the deadliest metro areas for pedestrians.

Fresno was ranked number 10 in the list.

"I am angry and I am troubled by this horrible, horrific news," Martinez said.

The study, which used data from 2016 to 2020, blames road design, saying many cities prioritize speed instead of safety.

It claims crosswalks are regularly missing or too far apart, some lanes are too wide, and intersections are difficult to walk across.

The data shows low-income residents and people of color are more likely to be struck and killed.

The same goes for people between the ages of 50 and 65 and those over 75.

Just last Saturday, 59-year-old Theodore Seja was hit and killed near Belmont and First Street.

Police are still looking for the driver who took off.

"The simple fact is, we can't do enough," Mayor Jerry Dyer said.

Dyer says there's a give and take between larger roads to prevent congestion, but also keeping pedestrians safe.

He says the city has been working to make improvements including removing encampments along freeways.

The city has also implemented regular tree trimming to prevent traffic lights and stop signs from being blocked, and Dyer says they update crosswalks with fresh paint.

"We are taking steps in Fresno through some environmental designs, increased lighting in neighborhoods, maximizing our LED lights throughout Fresno," said Dyer.

Data from the Fresno Police department show pedestrian deaths across the city actually declined in 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019, but they went back up in 2021.

Dyer points to actions already taken at Woodward Park, including reflective tape around stop lights and enhancing bike safety.

He says he's optimistic about the future.

"I'm hopeful that the numbers will improve as a result of some of the things we are doing in the City of Fresno," Dyer said.

The mayor is also asking community members to be the eyes and ears for the city.

If you see something that needs attention in your neighborhood, you're asked to report it through the FresGo app or by calling 311.