NYC Pedestrian Fatalities Up in 2006?

In the wake of yet another gruesome killing of a pedestrian walking in the crosswalk with the right-of-way — this time, a 4-year-old boy run over by a guy driving a Hummer — Transportation Alternatives is arguing that these kinds of deaths can be prevented or, at least, made less likely, with the following five street design measures:

  • Provide pedestrians exclusive crossing time so
    that turning motorists have the red light while pedestrians have the
    walk signal. (example: Union Square NW- 17th and Broadway
  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) or "pedestrian
    head starts" give pedestrians the signal before motorists, better
    establishing their presence in the crosswalk and making them more
    visible to turning motorists. (example: 23rd Street and Broadway, 23rd
    Street and 6th Ave).
  • Neckdowns — sidewalk extensions at corners, force
    motorists to make slower, more accurate and safer turns (example: 29th
    Street and 8th Ave).
  • Raised crosswalks in which the pavement under
    crosswalks is elevated by 4 inches, again force motorists to slow down
    when navigating an intersection.
  • Bollards — placing steel bollards at corners
    (pictured) or on two way street, placing plastic bollards where the
    double yellow line meets the crosswalk protect pedestrians while
    waiting on the sidewalk and force drivers to make safer turns (example:
    12th Street and 7th Ave).

Perhaps most notable, the T.A. press release also says that there were 170 pedestrian fatalities in New York City in 2006, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. DOT has not responded to requests to verify that number. Outgoing DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall touts improving pedestrian safety as one of the major accomplishments of her tenure.

  • Yeah, I noticed that too and was suprised. I do remember 2005 was in the 150s so if the 170 number is correct it would suggest that something is wrong.

    And deaths is only one metric. I have heard about some of the most horrible injuries from traffic crashes. A severe injury can radically change people’s lives forever.

    If only there were some piece of pending legislation that might require the DOT to release data to the public not just when it suited their near term political agenda.

  • alex

    I grew up in California where direct democracy via direct or indirect initiative is vital to the state’s politics (for better and for worse).
    Does New York State have a similar process whereby citizens can petition for suppport of either a direct or indirect initiative? If not, what is the closest option available in New York?

  • someguy

    There really aren’t direct referendums in NY. There are statewide and citywide ballots, but I don’t fully understand how ballot measures get on there, and I don’t know the exact mechanism for how they get implemented. May be someone else can chime in. Either way from what I’ve read in news analysis it’s not anything as robust as CA has.

  • ddartley

    And reduce the speed limits.

    (with OR WITHOUT accompanying physical traffic calming that addresses illegal speeding.)

    If drivers don’t feel they have a right to drive at 30mph in the midst of pedestrians (that’s what NYC driving is), they will less often hit 40 and 50 mph. Also, even more importantly, they should feel less entitled to slam on the gas for short bursts and drive dangerously aggressively, which are even more common than sustained speeding).

    I confess I kind of pulled this idea out of my hat, and suddenly at that, and that it is not a common approach proposed by many other people (with more expertise than me, surely), but really, is any good reason for 30 mph as the standard local street and avenue speed limit? Would there be ANY harm at all in just making it 20mph? There undeniably would be benefits. What costs??

  • I’m not a statistician, but we need to keep in mind, also, that a certain amount of fluctuation is “random noise”.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can comment?

  • P

    I would have said that too, Steveo, but when the total number is so high it should be dropping regardless of the noise.

    But some variation less than 5% seems to be typical for these types of datasets- whether it’s the murder rate or car crashes. My inclination would be to believe that the conditions on the ground haven’t worsened in the last year but they certainly haven’t improved.

  • True that the increase could be that there is at best a “leveling off” statistically. That suggests that new pedestrian safety programs are needed to continue to decrease these numbers.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Ddartley, speed limit reduction to 30 kilometers per hour and lower is part of the Paris transportation plan that Jason Varone posted about recently, so you’re not the only one who thinks it would help.

  • Nicolo Machiavelli

    Alex (#2 above) seems like he feels that the ballot referndum process, hailed as “direct democracy” results in positive social good. First, people like Ron Lauder have a lot more clout in this playing field than, say, young people living in the projects. Their ability to fund ballot measures and the publicity running up to a vote badly skews the process away from Democracy and radically toward Dollar Democracy. Most of the ballot initiatives in California and the other younger states have led to long term negative structural changes. Specifically in California the big money driven tax referrendum has castrated California’s elected representatives ability to formulate tax policy (no small matter).

    Applied to transportation policy this can be disastrous for progressive change in NY state generally and NY City particularly. I know this blog is very much in favor of congestion pricing, so am I. But I am frustrated by the inability of our elected representative to put it over. Would popular referndum be a solution? I hardly think so. Given the juice of the AAA and the pedal minded suburbs as well as Staten Island and most of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx I believe that any referendum on the subject will result in a much worse pedestrian environment than we now live in.

    The only chance for progressive transportation legislation is through the dirty, distasteful business of politics and in NYC that means the “clubhouse”. Organizing, leafleting, going to endless, fruitless public meetings, raising money electing politicians who share your position, is the only way to do it.

    Or, maybe you can convince Ron Lauder, Mike Bloomberg, Don Trump and Bruce Ratner to write some checks and fund a progressive transportation agenda driven by referenda. Good luck with that project.

  • We deal with this stuff all the time and I must say that it’s just getting worse!

    Drivers saying it just wasn’t there fault, they were in a rush, hectic lifestyle and the list goes on.

    Drivers definitely need to take more responsibility for there action and strta to concentrate more!… And govenments need to start giving drivers more and better education… on the roads and off….

    Regards, Travis

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