TSTC: Five City Streets Rank as Region’s Most Dangerous for Walking

tstcgrab1.jpgNine pedestrians were killed on Third Ave. in Manhattan between 2006 and 2008.

Streets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island continue to be among the most dangerous in the region for pedestrians, says a new report from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

According to a TSTC analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2006 to 2008, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Third Avenue saw nine fatalities each, with Broadway close behind at eight. Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, Kings Highway in Brooklyn and Staten Island’s Hylan Boulevard all had seven deaths during the three year period.

Kings Highway is a new addition to the list; the rest were singled out in TSTC’s 2008 report, which encompassed 2005-2007 data.

"The most dangerous roads for walking are either major suburban
roadways dotted with retail destinations but designed exclusively for
fast-moving car traffic or extremely busy urban roads," said author Michelle
Ernst. Topping the list again were Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County and Sunrise Highway in Suffolk
County, with 13 and 11
fatalities, respectively.

TSTC and other advocates called for the New York State DOT to increase investments in pedestrian safety and, while lauding NYCDOT for its efforts, agreed that more can and should be done. "The design of these streets encourages dangerous driving behavior like
speeding and failure to yield," said Transportation Alternatives’ Paul Steely White. "In a region where many
families don’t own cars, that so many streets should be hostile to
walking is appalling."

Marking the release of the report, volunteers from AARP today assessed conditions on Third Ave. using a walkability survey developed by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results will be shared with city officials. Seniors across the metro region suffer a disproportionate number of deaths at the hands of drivers. 

The full report, along with county fact sheets and links to interactive Google Maps, is available here.

  • I take issue with some of the methodology here. For example, in Connecticut, the report considers US 1 and US 5 the most dangerous roads in the state. They’re also the longest. US 1 is over 100 miles long, and has some stretches where high speeds are encouraged, but also stretches through downtowns that are very pedestrian-friendly. There needs to be a little perspective included here.

  • Mets1

    I agree its hard to compare, but I would think substantially more people cross Broadway or Third Avenue than US 1 or US 5, even if the latter roads are much longer.

  • Mets1: True, but that would actually be an argument that Broadway is significantly safer, since Broadway and US 1 had the exact same number of pedestrian fatalities over the three-year period.

  • CH

    This is a rather flawed way of presenting data. It’s not surprising that some of the longest streets/avenues in the densest, busiest parts of the city come up as the most dangerous. It’s an attention-getter but one of limited statistical value.

    Also, it is probably more useful to look at injuries as another category in addition to fatalities, which are thankfully relatively rare. (Obviously not rare enough)

    TSTC means well but short-changes its own reputation and credibility with efforts like this.

  • Chris O’Leary and CH, these are fair criticisms. It’s true that the methodology we used in this report means that longer roads are high in the rankings, and that injury data would be a valuable addition to the report (unfortunately, we’re unable to do this because this information isn’t available for our entire region in a complete and usable fashion – see also this earlier discussion for more on the methodology). Even with these issues, however, there is no question that roads like Hempstead Turnpike and Atlantic Avenue are dangerous.

    Furthermore, this report gets results. Last year this report prompted NYSDOT to create a “SafeSeniors” program targeting pedestrian danger zones on Long Island. Within days of this year’s release:

    – Staten Island district attorney Daniel Donovan announced he would organize a safety summit on Hylan Boulevard.
    – Councilman Stephen Levin suggested that more traffic calming on Atlantic Avenue is needed (we will follow up).
    – The report was cited over 25 times by the media, much of it *thoughtful and in-depth coverage* that demonstrates that road design is an underlying cause of pedestrian death. See coverage from the NY Daily News and Connecticut’s WTNH (see our blog story linked in today’s Streetsblog morning clips), Newsday columnist Ellis Henican, Bergen Record columnist John Cichowski, and many others.

    Again, it’s fair to quibble when it comes to our report’s “statistical value.” But its advocacy value has been proven for two years running. I disagree that our reputation and credibility have been shortchanged.

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