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Seattle, Boston top index of safest U.S. cities for pedestrians

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Seattle and Boston are walking on the safe side, according to the Pedestrian Safety Index released by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The two cities have been deemed the safest for its resident pedestrians to walk in.

The index ranks the 15 safest cities for pedestrians in the United States, using data that is based on the statistics provided by cities and perceptions of safety of the residents and commuters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the population of pedestrians in the United States has increased by 24 million from 2005 to 2010. As there were 4,302 fatalities for pedestrians reported in the year 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian safety is a growing concern.

Liberty Mutual Insurance published the Pedestrian Safety Index as a means to increase awareness on the issue, in addition to identifying best practices for keeping pedestrians safe.

The index revealed that Seattle, with over 108,000 of its residents travelling by walking or riding public transportation daily, only has fewer than 10 fatalities for pedestrians yearly.

The impressive figure can be attributed to several pedestrian safety programs that the city has implemented through the years. Some of these programs are the "Safest Route to School" program that keeps Seattle schoolchildren safe through the addition of 501 constructed crosswalks, improvements in routes for walking to school and the implementation of speed cameras in school zones, and the "Be Super Safe" program, which looks to eliminate reckless behaviors of drivers.

In a survey, 96 percent of residents feel that Seattle is safe for the city's pedestrians, while 97 percent say that Seattle is taking a proactive approach in promoting the safety of pedestrians.

"We are seeing a dangerously high rate of pedestrian injuries and fatalities across the country, so it's promising to see cities like Seattle dedicating the necessary resources to ensure the safety of their citizens," said Liberty Mutual Insurance global safety and driving safety expert and managing director David Melton.

Second in the index is Boston, where pedestrians are safe due to the installation of 195 cameras for traffic monitoring, over 3,600 signs for public safety posted per year, and over 90 traffic signals in the city retimed in 2013.

Rounding out the top five safest cities are Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York.

One incident that demonstrates how pedestrians have embraced a culture of safety is seen in this video taken in February, after the Seattle Seahawks won the championship in the National Football League. Amid celebrations in the streets, fans of the Seahawks were filmed refusing to jaywalk on an intersection, instead patiently waiting for a safe opportunity to cross.

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