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[Study] The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrian in Philadelphia

Posted on December 20th, 2019

In November 2016, the city of Philadelphia announced its plans for Vision Zero, setting a target of zero traffic-related fatalities by 2030.  However, two years later, it’s been argued that the initiative has not done enough to put safety as a primary priority. From 2014-2018, traffic-related fatalities have been on an increasing trend that, if it continues, will fail to meet the goals set forth by Vision Zero.

Pedestrian safety is a major contributor to the increase in fatalities. From 2014 to 2018, pedestrians only made up 7 percent of people involved in crashes, while comprising 42 percent of total traffic fatalities.

Where are pedestrians at the highest risk of being struck by motor vehicles in the Philadelphia metro area?

With data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the help of data agency 1Point21 Interactive, we conducted a geospatial analysis of all pedestrian accidents that occurred from 2014 to 2018 within the five counties that make up the Philadelphia metro area: Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery. From there, we noted which streets and intersections had clusters of accidents and highlighted them as high-collision danger zones.

[Interactive Map] The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians In Philadelphia

We identified 455 zones where at least 5 pedestrian crashes occurred within close proximity of each other. We mapped every pedestrian crash, along with every zone on this interactive map.  Zoom in and hover over each for more information.  *If viewing on a mobile device, rotate phone or tablet for best experience. 

Key Findings From Our Study

From 2014-2018, there were:

  • 13,196 total crashes involving pedestrians
  • 13,835 total pedestrians involved
  • 385 total pedestrian fatalities
  • 13,811 total pedestrian injuries – 875 of which were major (defined as an incapacitating injury that required transport to a hospital for further treatment)
  • 455 zones were at least 5 pedestrian collisions occurred.
  •  25 zones where 16 or more pedestrian collisions occurred.
  • 24 of these were in the city of Philadelphia.  Only one zone,  the 7th ranked zone found in Upper Darby Township, was outside of the Philadelphia

The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians In Philadelphia

Rank Municipality Zone Center Total Crashes Deaths Major Injuries Total Injuries
1 Philadelphia City N Broad St & Cecil B Moore Ave 43 0 5 45
2 Philadelphia City N Broad St & Erie Ave 38 2 4 37
3 Philadelphia City N 2nd St & W Lehigh Ave 35 6 2 32
4 Philadelphia City Frankford Ave & Bridge St 34 1 3 39
5 Philadelphia City Broad St & Vine St 33 1 3 32
6 Philadelphia City Market St & S 52nd St 32 0 0 32
7 *Upper Darby Township Market St & S 69th St 31 0 1 31
8 Philadelphia City N Broad St & W Girard Ave 30 0 2 30
9 Philadelphia City Sansom St & South Juniper St 29 0 1 29
10 Philadelphia City W Girard & N Front St 23 1 2 23
11 Philadelphia City N Broad St & W Olney Ave 23 0 2 23
12 Philadelphia City N Broad St & Windrim Ave 21 0 3 22
13 Philadelphia City N Broad St & Lehigh Ave 21 2 1 21
14 Philadelphia City E Allegheny Ave & Kensington Ave 20 0 3 24
15 Philadelphia City John F. Kennedy Blvd & N 17th St 20 0 0 20
16 Philadelphia City N Broad St & Roosevelt Blvd 19 0 3 21
17 Philadelphia City Market St & N 11th St 18 1 2 19
18 Philadelphia City W Cheltene Ave & Wayne Ave 18 0 0 18
19 Philadelphia City S Broad St & Locus St 17 0 1 17
20 Philadelphia City Chestnut St & S 16th St 16 0 2 16
21 Philadelphia City Race St & N 10th St 16 0 1 16
22 Philadelphia City John F. Kennedy Blvd & N 16th St 16 1 1 17
23 Philadelphia City Arch St & N12th St 16 1 1 16
24 Philadelphia City N Broad St & W Westmoreland St 16 0 0 21
25 Philadelphia City N 5th St & W Olney Ave 16 0 1 17

*Only one zone in our top 25 fell outside of Philadelphia City.

The Most Dangerous Pedestrian Zone is on North Broad Street

According to our findings, the most dangerous pedestrian zone in the Philadelphia metro area is located in the Cecil B. Moore neighborhood in North Philadelphia. Occurring at the intersection of Cecil B. Moore Avenue and North Broad Street, the zone contained 43 total pedestrian crashes, leading to 45 injuries – five of which were major.

This zone directly borders the campus of Temple University, Philadelphia’s largest university. Due to the rapid gentrification and growth of this area due to the university, the neighborhood has recently been dubbed “Templetown.”

The surging student body (Temple University has approximately 40,000 students enrolled on campus), complete with heavy traffic around a bustling, rejuvenated area, may be factors as to why so many pedestrian collisions occur at this zone.

Other Pedestrian Zones

Other notable zones include:

  • N Broad St & Erie Ave – ranked second with 38 total crashes, 37 total injures, 4 major injuries, 2 deaths
  • N 2nd St & W Lehigh Ave – ranked third with 35 total crashes, 32 total injuries, 2 major injuries, 6 deaths – the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in one zone on our list
  • Market St & S 69th Street – ranked seventh with 31 total crashes, 31 total injuries, 1 major injury – the only pedestrian zone in the top 25 not located in Philadelphia city limits

Broad Street is Dangerous for Pedestrians

Broad Street is an expansive north-south arterial road that travels directly through the city of Philadelphia. With high amounts of traffic and a road configuration that is decidedly automobile-friendly, it is a hotbed for pedestrian collisions in the Philadelphia metro area: 3 of the top 5 and 10 of the top 25 occur on the street. Why does Broad Street have such a high concentration of pedestrian accidents?

Broad Street is Automobile Friendly

This includes wider roads, limited sidewalk space, and timing of intersection crosswalks that often favors automobile speed and efficient traffic flow over safe pedestrian crossing. Although accommodations have been made in recent years to provide more stringent safety measures for pedestrians, it is still largely catered to ensuring smooth traffic flow.

Broad Street Has a Dedicated Subway Line

The Broad Street SEPTA rapid transit rail runs along the same route as Broad Street as a popular form of alternative transportation for pedestrians – averaging 147,000 daily riders in 2018. Although this may alleviate traffic above ground, the subway stops every few blocks along Broad Street create intersections densely populated with pedestrians – often at all times of the day.

Indeed, it’s important to note that each zone in the top 25 that is located on Broad Street has a subway stop at that intersection.

Much of North Broad Street is a Low-Income Neighborhood

Multiple studies through the years have repeatedly shown that neighborhoods with high poverty rates and gross income inequality are disproportionately affected by traffic violence. Although Broad Street south of Temple University is quickly being gentrified and developed, much of North Broad Street in North Philadelphia is home to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, such as Fairhill and Tioga-Nicetown – both of which border North Broad Street.

In recent Census findings, the Fairhill neighborhood reported a 61 percent poverty rate, while Tioga-Nicetown suffered the sharpest decline in median household income from 2013-2017, from $28,026 to $17,493.

Although there are minor plans to improve the quality of North Broad Street, such as installing medians from Girard to Cecil B. Moore, more should be done to protect pedestrians along this road.

Outside of Philadelphia City: Zones with Eight or More Crashes

Although the city of Philadelphia dominated the top 25 list, it downplays the fact that there are dangerous pedestrian zones throughout the entire metro area. Here are some of the most dangerous pedestrian zones outside of proper city limits.

Rank Municipality Zone Center Total Crashes Deaths Major Injuries Total Injuries
Delaware Upper Darby Township Market St & S 69th St 31 0 1 31
Delaware Chester City Highland Ave & W 9th St 12 2 1 11
Bucks Bensalem Township Lincoln Highway & Old Lincoln Highway 12 2 1 13
Delaware Upper Darby Township Marshall Rd & South 69th St 9 0 1 9
Montgomery Norristown Borough Markley St & West Main St 9 1 1 8
Montgomery Norristown Borough Markley St & West Spruce St 9 0 0 9
Delaware Upper Darby Township E Baltimore Ave & Church Ln 8 0 0 8
Chester West Chester Borough South High St & Price St 8 0 0 8
Chester West Chester Borough South High St & East Union St 8 0 2 8
Montgomery Norristown Borough West Main St & Haws Avenue 8 0 2 8
Chester Phoenixville Borough Bridge St & South Main St 8 0 0 8
Bucks Bensalem Township Knights Rd & East St Rd 8 2 0 7

The Most Dangerous Zones Outside of Philadelphia Are in Delaware County

The top two pedestrian zones outside of Philadelphia are located in Delaware County. Ranked first, the zone at Market & S 69th Street was the only pedestrian zone in our top 25 that was not in Philadelphia proper. This zone is actually located in Upper Darby, a predominantly residential township bordering West Philadelphia.

The zone is particular is located at the northern tip of 69th Street, a bustling area of shops and entertainment. Dubbed the Shops at 69th Street, this stretch of road is home to many shopping outlets and entertainment, including the historic Tower Theater, a vaudeville theater opened in 1920. Additionally, at the tip of 69th Street is the 69th Street Transportation Center, a major transportation hub where pedestrians can board transit lines, bus lines, and other alternative forms of transportation. All of these factors result in heavy pedestrian density in this area – a likely explanation for the disproportionately high number of pedestrian crashes.

The second-ranked zone is located in the city of Chester, on a stretch of W 9th Street that ends at Highland Avenue. This zone had 12 total crashes resulting in 11 total injuries and 2 fatalities. Although W 9th Street does receive a fair share of heavy traffic, this zone is particularly more dangerous due to the Veterans Memorial Park directly bordering the street and the lack of any real sidewalk as a protective barrier of sorts between the park and the road.

Pedestrians crossing the narrow two-lane road, children running to grab errant balls and other toys – these are all very real possibilities that can happen on this stretch of W 9th Street. Additionally, it’s important to note that 9th Street at Highland Avenue lacks a stop sign. This means that motorists are more likely to pass through this stretch at a higher, less cautious speed – especially since this stretch signals the beginning of U.S. Route 13, a north-south highway connecting all the way to North Carolina.

A Zone in Bucks County is Third

The third-ranked zone is located in the township of Bensalem. Encompassing Roosevelt Blvd at the Old Lincoln Highway ramp, this zone had 12 total crashes resulting in 13 total injuries and 2 total fatalities. Roosevelt Blvd in Philadelphia is notorious for its pedestrian dangers, at one point being dubbed the “Blvd of Death” for its wide roads, heavy traffic, and high speeds. This stretch of Roosevelt in the is no different, a road with as many as five lanes on each side, extremely high speeds, and crosswalks with poor visibility. Additionally, a major business complex, multiple hotels, and a state park directly bordering Roosevelt can result in a steady flow of both motorists and pedestrians who may not necessarily be familiar with the local roads.

Notable Pedestrian Zones in Montgomery County

Two pedestrian zones in the borough of Norristown were especially dangerous in Montgomery County. Both accounted for 9 total crashes, and both occur on Markley Street – within a mile from each other. Markley Street is a heavily traveled arterial road that also serves as a fork of U.S. Route 202. Heavy traffic and lack of any significant pedestrian safety measures along this road makes it inherently dangerous for pedestrians.

However, PennDOT has recently released plans to heavily redesign and reconstruct Markley Street. Slated to finish in late 2023, this project includes major improvements to pedestrian safety, including sidewalks, continental crosswalks, streetlights, and other quality-of-life enhancements.

Looking Forward in Philadelphia

Through the perceived lack of success in the Vision Zero initiative, studies like this serve as a valuable tool for pedestrian safety in the Philadelphia metro area. By highlighting these trouble spots within the region, we can pinpoint possible potential causes for high crash activity – many of which may be relatively straightforward, minor modifications. These minor changes and improvements to Philadelphia’s roads and highways can have a major impact on pedestrian and traffic safety in the entire region.