Sylvia Moreno and Alan Sipress uncovered the fact that our roadways are disproportionately dangerous to Hispanic walkers ["Fatalities Higher for Latino Pedestrians," front page, Aug. 27]. Such knowledge could help local governments target limited safety funds to high-risk neighborhoods.

However, the implication that the fault lies mostly with immigrant pedestrians not accustomed to high-speed, high-volume traffic misses the fundamental problem: bad road design.

During the past 30 years, Washington's suburbs have spent billions of dollars widening roads and adding free-flow turn lanes, increasing the speed of motor vehicles at the expense of walkers. The shortage of traffic signals on many suburban roads forces pedestrians to use unsignalized crosswalks, which are even more dangerous than jaywalking, according to recent Federal Highway Administration research.

Meanwhile, the rate of sidewalk construction lags far behind. And those sidewalks that do exist are often narrow, directly adjacent to traffic and filled with impediments.

It's not coincidental that Ms. Moreno and Mr. Sipress found the pedestrian death rate to be much worse in the suburbs than in Washington, which has better sidewalks, squared-off intersection corners (which slow turning vehicles) and more traffic signals.

Maybe instead of trying to teach immigrants how to avoid getting hit by fast cars, we could learn something from them about designing communities that are inherently safe, pleasant and walkable.

ED FENDLEY

PETER HARNIK

Arlington