City and State Pedestrian Safety Numbers Don’t Add Up

New York City Pedestrian Injuries, 2000 – 2005


When Streetsblog set-out to compare pedestrian safety in New York City and London we had an easy time finding detailed statistics from London’s transportation agency. Back home was a bit more challenging. For some reason the number of pedestrian crashes reported by the State Department of Motor Vehicles, the City Department of Transportation the and NYPD are completely different. This is a bit mysterious since everyone’s tally is based on the same police crash reports.

This matters because without reliable crash data there is no way to tell if things are getting better or worse, or if different enforcement or engineering strategies are working or failing. It’s also an argument for the DOT and police to post their monthly crash statistics on their websites and include them as indicators in the Mayor’s Management Report. If they can do it for crime, they can do it for motor vehicle crashes.

  • nobody in particular

    Another thing both the City and State can do is to make available to the full crash data sets to the public. Right now, such data must be FOILed.

  • The refusal of the transportation agencies to produce accident data makes it impossible for the public, other agencies (like the Art Commission)or independent experts to evaluate their projects, which they insist are necessitated by accident data. An example is the State DOT plan to “straighten the S curves” of the Henry Hudson Parkway in northern Manhattan. Despite repeated requests by the community board and others to share the data, it was never forthcoming. DOT simply claimed that eliminating variable speed limits was necessary to reduce the accidents in this area (e.g., by creating a straightaway at a consistent 50 mph). Other experts say that variable speed limits are traffic calming. Others say that drainage or improper banking would be causes. My own observation over the last four years has been that almost all accidents occur in the flattest, straightest section of the parkway during heavy traffic where a speed limit is irrelevant. We watch project after project destroy the character of parks and neighborhoods, with no data provided on which to assess their cost effectiveness nor to suggest alternative designs.

    Enforcement data is also kept secret, though for more justifiable reasons. You can not find out how many officers are assigned to enforce speeding. That removes enforcement as an alternative.

  • Bravo Hilary .
    Accurate data is basic stuff. We should not have to do a FOIL to get 24 months old data.
    we also need enfocemnt data . how many tickets given out for what offense at what location .
    just need a GPS plus blackberry and three keystrokes…
    Is that too much to ask?


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