Bakersfield’s Pedestrian Crisis: City Ranks Among Nation’s Most Dangerous for Pedestrians, Report Shows

June 5, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Bakersfield’s Pedestrian Crisis: City Ranks Among Nation’s Most Dangerous for Pedestrians, Report Shows

Bakersfield has ranked among the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the United States for pedestrians, according to the 2024 “Dangerous by Design” report by Smart Growth America.

The latest edition of the report paints a grim picture of the city’s pedestrian safety crisis, reporting that 7,522 people were struck and killed while walking in the United States in 2022, an average of more than 20 per day, which is a 40-year high and a 57% jump from 2013. The report includes pedestrian fatality statistics and ranks the largest 101 metro areas, as well as examining five-year periods of pedestrian fatalities.

The report named Memphis, Tennessee, worst among cities followed by Albuquerque, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona, and Bakersfield in fourth. Florida’s Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach metropolitan area and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, tied for fifth worst in average pedestrian fatality rates over the 2018 to 2022 period.

Bakersfield had an average annual pedestrian fatality rate of 3.99 per 100,000 people from the years 2018-2022. In total, 181 pedestrians died during those years, which was a 20% jump from the 151 pedestrian deaths from 2013 to 2017.

“This epidemic continues to grow worse because our nation’s streets are dangerous by design, designed primarily to move cars quickly at the expense of keeping everyone safe,” Smart Growth America authors wrote.

The pedestrian safety crisis is due in part to the design of our nation’s streets, which prioritizes the movement of vehicles over the safety of pedestrians, the report concludes. Bakersfield’s wide, high-speed roads and lack of pedestrian infrastructure, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic-calming measures, contribute to its high pedestrian fatality rate. Additionally, the report highlights the role of vehicle design, with larger and heavier vehicles posing a greater risk to pedestrians in the event of a collision. Bakersfield’s high rate of SUV and truck ownership may exacerbate this issue.

“To address Bakersfield’s pedestrian safety crisis, a concerted effort from local authorities, urban planners, and the community is necessary,” said Matt Clark, managing partner and attorney at the Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Clark.

This should involve the following:

  • Prioritizing pedestrian safety in urban planning and infrastructure projects
  • Implementing proven design interventions, such as pedestrian islands, road diets, and traffic-calming measures. ‘
  • Raising awareness about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving.
  • Encouraging active transportation and promoting a culture of pedestrian-friendly communities.

“By taking decisive action and embracing a pedestrian-centric approach to urban design, Bakersfield can work towards reducing its alarming pedestrian fatality rate and creating safer streets for all,” Clark said.

The report emphasizes that relatively simple and affordable design interventions can improve safety for pedestrians. These include measures to improve visibility, reduce conflict points, shorten crossing distances, and encourage safer speeds. The report also highlights successful efforts in cities like Detroit and Buffalo, which have achieved significant reductions in pedestrian fatalities through targeted strategies and infrastructure improvements. Since 2018, Detroit has achieved a 40% decrease in the number of people hit and killed while walking. Buffalo achieved a 50% decrease.

Lastly, the report highlights that the pedestrian fatality crisis disproportionately affects certain groups, with Black and Native Americans, older adults, and people walking in low-income communities facing higher risks and fatality rates compared to the national average.

Previous Chain | Cohn | Clark studies found that three in four pedestrian fatalities took place during the hours between sunset and sunrise, nationally and in Bakersfield specifically, standing in contrast with other comparable wealthy countries. And most pedestrian fatalities in Bakersfield took place in downtown Bakersfield and east Bakersfield.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Wear Reflective Gear: Utilize reflective clothing or accessories to enhance visibility in low-light conditions.
  • Carry a Light Source: Keep a flashlight or use your smartphone light when walking at night to increase visibility.
  • Stick to Well-Lit Areas: Walk on well-lit paths and crosswalks to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Avoid Distractions: Stay alert by refraining from using headphones or texting while walking to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Make Eye Contact: Before crossing the street, ensure drivers see you by making eye contact to confirm they have noticed you.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Drive Cautiously: Be extra cautious and attentive when driving at night, especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
  • Reduce Speed: Slow down in residential areas and near crosswalks to allow time to react to pedestrians.
  • Avoid Distractions: Refrain from distractions like texting or adjusting the radio while driving to maintain focus on the road.
  • Use Headlights Properly: Ensure headlights are clean, aligned correctly, and used appropriately for optimal visibility.
  • Yield to Pedestrians: Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, even if they are not clearly visible.



If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at