Map Monday: Saint Paul Pedestrian Crashes

In honor of Saint Paul’s “pedestrian safety week,” here’s a map showing all the (reported) “pedestrian crashes” in the city for the past 10 years. This is from the city’s just released “pedestrian assessment report“:


Here’s what the report says about this map:

Figure 4: Pedestrian Crashes in Saint Paul, 2005-2014 – The majority of pedestrian crashes in Saint Paul occurred on arterial and collector streets. This is likely due to the fact that vehicle traffic along these streets is higher, while vehicles are also traveling more quickly. In particular, A Minor roads experienced a high number of pedestrian crashes specifically along Snelling Avenue, University Avenue, and Arcade Street. There were relatively few pedestrian crashes on residential streets.

Pedestrian crashes is a strange term. Really it means when a car crashes into someone walking around.


Bonus map: not sure what the difference is, except road type isn’t shown.


17 thoughts on “Map Monday: Saint Paul Pedestrian Crashes

  1. Patrick St. Dennis

    Re: the sidewalk network map

    There’s some areas (especially in a couple spots in Highland) where there’s no sidewalk. Maddeningly, there’s a couple half block or block long sections right near where I live, for no good reason. Edgcumbe is the largest example.

  2. Keith Morris

    Clearly, the major high speed corridors are the worst for pedestrians. How can a traffic engineer look at this and say, “Yes, this is working out just fine.”?

    1. Monte Castleman

      Engineering is a balancing act between efficiency and safety. There’s probably a million street crossings every day or two in St. Paul, and there’s so few crashes you can easily discern 9 years worth of data on a small map. Moreso there’s a lot more pedestrians and a lot more cars along the major arterials, so that’s exactly where I’d expect to see more crashes.

      1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

        I think this is where you may disagree with many folks here, including myself. I don’t believe engineering is a balancing act between safety and efficiency (maybe we could define that as well?). I guess saying that collisions are inevitable and that death is just a part of that because speed can’t be sacrificed in areas where pedestrians are prevalent just doesn’t sit well with me.

        To say there are so few is, I guess, a bit callous. 31 over 10 years? I’m the first to admit the Twin Cities are pretty safe for drivers, peds, and cyclists compared to most US cities. But that rate per capita is still 2-3x higher than many other urban areas across the world. It’d be hard for me to tell the families of the 15-20 people over the last decade who died where other street designs and land uses could have prevented them, because “efficiency,” with a straight face.

        1. Monte Castleman

          Unless you go all the way to preventing 100% of pedestrian deaths, say by implementing a 5 mph speed limit and requiring a person to walk in front waving a red flare, you’re going to have to balance it. What about 25 mph and 15 over 10 years? What about 15 mph and 5 over 10 years (making these numbers up of course). I’m not saying 30 mph is right or wrong, just that it is a balancing act unless you go to one extreme or the other, either to ban car travel as we know it to prevent all pedestrian deaths, or let drivers go whatever speed they want and have a lot more pedestrian deaths. In between those two extremes there’s a balance.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

            Sure there’s a balance. But there are a lot of different balancing acts, and ours is weighted toward a lot of needless death. (

            In NYC they’re taking about “vision zero,” trying to radically reduce road (and especially pedestrian) fatalities. It’s not unreasonable to have goals like this. And it doesn’t have to come at the expense of public mobility.

            1. Monte Castleman

              If you don’t agree with the way the balance is set now, that’s a fair point and a valid opinion. But I’m not sure how you define “mobility”, unless the idea is the public should be using trains and buses instead of private cars. To me, mobility is how fast you can get someplace, not just if you can get there at all. If I have to hobble along on my cane, I’m not very mobile. If the speed limit is 19 mph instead of 30 mph, that reduces mobility. If we want to reduce mobility to increase safety, again that’s a fair point, but there is a balance.

              1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                “If the speed limit is 19 mph instead of 30 mph, that reduces mobility.”

                Only if the speed limit is a accurate reflection of how fast traffic actually moves.

                Due to various streets being torn up downtown, I’ve taken to riding a Nice Ride down Third Street for a few blocks on my morning commute, where there’s no bike lane. I stay as far to the right as possible try to let people pass, but at times that’s not possible. To the drivers’ credit, they’ve mostly been pretty good about it, which probably has a lot to do with them going barely faster than me anyway, with their leads often disappearing at stop lights.

                That’s a really specific example, but the broader point is that effective speeds within the city are already significantly impeded by traffic and stop lights such that reducing the point to which you accelerate between them may make very little difference in trip times.

              2. Wayne

                The balance is and has been shifted towards the convenience of drivers over all other factors for far too long. If my safety as a human being walking on my own two feet costs you a few more minutes of your day, I DON’T CARE. If it costs thousands of people several minutes? STILL DON’T CARE.

                I’m tired of pedestrians paying for driver impatience and poor decisions on where to live with their lives. I certainly value my life more than your convenience and access to cheap garbage built on cheap land way out away from everything else. The status quo is untenable and needs to change fast.

              3. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

                I don’t agree with the balance, but I also don’t agree that to get to zero it would require the strawman situation you describe (red flares, 5 mph speed limits for cars, etc). Zero should be the goal.

                So, maybe I’ll put it a different way. If not zero, what is the right balance? What’s the number of people that we should feel comfortable with dying (or even being seriously injured) on city streets? Should we break it down by mode? Does a person who makes less money matter as much as someone with a higher potential lifetime earning? Will the number line up with other socially-determined safety standards (e.g. OSHA)? What things are we willing to give up to achieve your number – on street parking? turn lanes? seconds of intersection delay?

                In my mind, yes, mobility (the ability to go far distances in as short amount of time) might have to be somewhat sacrificed to achieve a zero death goal. That doesn’t necessarily mean *accessibility* would be sacrificed (although, maybe it still might!). Yes, that might mean more transit and bike investments, sometimes at the expense of vehicle mobility. No, that doesn’t mean anyone is forcing any individual to ride scary transit or ride bikes (at least, not any more than the current system forces any particular individual to be the one killed while out walking around). People will make different decisions on where to live/work and how to get around within a time-cost budget.

                Yes, I realize Minneapolis and St Paul are actually relatively very safe, even for pedestrians. Our ped fatality rate per 100k residents is right around 1, which is on the higher side of the safest cities in Europe (though some are in the 0.4-0.6 range). But that’s pretty pathetic when you consider how few people walk, even in the core cities, vs those same European or Asian places where walk mode share is 10+ times ours.

          2. Wayne

            “either to ban car travel as we know it to prevent all pedestrian deaths, or let drivers go whatever speed they want and have a lot more pedestrian deaths. In between those two extremes there’s a balance.”

            Also I just wanted to add that we’re essentially already at the latter extreme. There’s very little enforcement of speed limits outside of highways and even when there is it does little to deter people from driving however fast they want to most of the time. Seriously, try driving the actual posted speed limit sometime and see how fast everyone moves around you.

  3. Cole

    I don’t live in St. Paul so I’m not apt to comment, but the few questions that I would ask if I were wanting to know more about this data would be:

    1. What’s the width of the road where the crashes occurred and is there a correlation?
    2. What’s the observed traffic speeds where the crashes occurred and what speed was the specific vehicle traveling?
    3. Were there other unique circumstances like poor sight lines, right-hand on red, one-way traffic, etc?

    Look for trends in that data to determine what might be done to improve pedestrian safety. Remember, speed limits do very little to deter speeding if the road is designed for speed. That being said, it’s still important to consider how many crashes into pedestrians were avoided due to the pedestrian not crossing because they were uncomfortable or scared.

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