Perils for Pedestrians

TV talk about people who walk

A television series examining issues affecting people who walk.

We interview advocates and government planners about problems such as missing sidewalks and crosswalks, dangerous intersections, speeding traffic, and obstacles to wheelchair users and people with disabilities; and solutions to such problems.

Perils For Pedestrians appears on public access cable stations in many cities across the United States. The program is provided free to volunteers willing to act as the program's sponsor on their local public access cable station. Or view our online archive of past episodes.


Episode 168: Belgium. Closed Captions

  • We travel to Flanders, Belgium, where advocates reopened an ancient country footpath.

  • We look at a footpath through a parking garage in Brussels.

  • We visit the wide street in front of the Royal Palace.

  • We learn about the European Greenways Association.


What is a peril?

We look at problems confronting pedestrians in communities like yours, and solutions to those problems from across the United States and around the world. We also look at bicyclist and transit issues.

Where can I watch the show?:


What I Can Do?
Self help tips for folks who care about pedestrians.

How do I report a peril?

Who is John Z Wetmore?

Send us your comments.

Past episodes of Perils For Pedestrians are now available on a set of DVDs. Ask how to order a set.

If Pedestrians had clout
A great cartoon about snow and sidewalks! By Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe.

Statistics about pedestrian safety

Pedestrian Bridges
What works; what doesn't.

Sidewalks Placement
The advantages of setting back the sidewalk with a planting strip.

In Support of Retrofit Sidewalks
Answers to common arguments against retrofitting sidewalks in communities.

Reducing Student Pedestrian Perils
by John Z Wetmore
This article originally appeared in the September 2001 issue of Public Risk, published by the Public Risk Management Association, Arlington, VA.
The number of students walking to school in the United States has fallen from 70 percent a generation ago to barely 10 percent today. What are the implications of this enormous change? What caused it? What can be done to reverse it?

Newspaper Articles

Mean Streets 1998 Children at Risk
an annual report released by the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

"In fact, on a per-mile basis, walking is more dangerous than driving, flying, or riding a bus or train .... We found that most fatalities — 69 percent — occur on neighborhood streets.

Mean Streets 2000 Report


Al Gore speaking about the impact of sprawl development on our lives during a speech announcing Smart Growth proposals on January 11, 1999.

Many communities have no sidewalks, and nowhere to walk to, which is bad for public safety as well as for our nation's physical health. It has become impossible in such settings for neighbors to greet one another on the street, or for kids to walk to their own nearby schools. A gallon of gas can be used up just driving to get a gallon of milk. All of these add up to more stress for already overstressed family lives.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Types of the Early 1990's
Federal Highway Administration Publication No. FHWA-RD-95-163

Approximately 6,500 pedestrians and 900 bicyclists are killed each year as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. As a group, pedestrians and bicyclists comprise more than 14 percent of all highway fatalities each year.


Synthesis of Safety Research - Pedestrians
August 1991 Pub. no. FHWA-SA-91-034 page 83

A 1983 study by Tobey et. al. [1] investigated the safety effects of sidewalks. Sites with no sidewalks or pathways were the most hazardous for pedestrians, with pedestrian hazard scores of +2.6 and a PxV exposure score (i.e. exposure measure includes pedestrian volumes times traffic volume) of +2.2. This indicates that accidents at sites without sidewalks are more than twice as likely to occur than expected. Sites with sidewalks on one side of the road had a pedestrian volume and PxV hazard scores of +1.2 and +1.1, compared to scores of -1.2 and -1.2 for sites with sidewalks on bothsides of the road. Thus, sites with no sidewalks were the most hazardous to pedestrians, and least hazardous where sidewalks are present on both sides of the road.

1) H.N. Tobey, E.M. Shunamen, and R. L. Knoblauch, Pedestrian Trip Making Characteristics and Exposure Measures, DTFH61-81-C-00020, Federal Highway Administration, 1983.


Photo - John Z Wetmore John Z Wetmore

About John Z Wetmore

Perils for Pedestrians
4730 Bradley Blvd. #207
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


Updated June 19, 2014


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