Traffic Injuries Plummet on Allen and Pike After Bike-Ped Overhaul

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Evidence continues to mount that NYCDOT’s street reclamation projects are making New York a safer city for walking and biking. The latest statistics come from Allen and Pike Streets, where DOT installed four pedestrian plazas and the city’s first center-median protected bikeway late last summer. The project followed a long campaign by local community groups to make the pedestrian malls on Allen and Pike more welcoming public spaces.

In an update presented to Manhattan Community Board 3 last week [PDF], DOT announced that pedestrian injuries have dropped 54 percent at the intersection of Allen and Delancey, and overall injuries declined 57 percent. At the four intersections where new plazas linked together mall segments and replaced cross routes for traffic, pedestrian injuries fell 60 percent, and overall injuries declined 40 percent. The numbers were crunched by comparing several months of post-implementation injury data to the average number of injuries during the same months over the prior six years.

In addition to demonstrating the safety benefits of the new street design, the reduction in injuries should help make the case for permanent improvements on Allen and Pike. Like many recent DOT projects, the bikeway and the new plazas were laid down using inexpensive materials and techniques, allowing for a rapid build-out. Later this year the Parks Department will start constructing a more polished version along part of the Allen-Pike corridor.

Work on the three blocks from Henry to South Street and on the single block from Delancey to Hester is expected to begin in the fall. On those segments, the project will reconstruct the pedestrian malls and give the bikeway a more finished, permanent feel. (Elsewhere, the existing improvements will remain in place.) The Parks Department is still seeking funding to build out the rest of the corridor.

  • I’m hoping for a better northbound transition to First Avenue. The Allen Street lane stops at Houston Street and there’s not really a clear, safe path to keep going uptown. IIRC there’s a left-turn phase from Allen onto Houston St westbound, which makes it even more fraught to cross the street.

  • This is the kind of DATA that we need to use to get Bloomberg to understand the value of the proposed bike paths on First & Second Ave. How do you weigh a +50% reduction in pedestrian injuries versus delaying automobiles one minute per mile during rush hour? What’s the breakeven on that analysis? Because essentially, that’s probably what its going to come down to and there might not be a win-win on injuries and speed, since as we know speed causes more severe ped injuries. In one of the most densely populated areas of the country, I think reducing ped injuries should be of paramount importance.

  • SCL

    I hope the improvements include fixing the puddling problems at many intersections after it rains!

  • J

    Glenn,
    SBS was never a safety project, which is why the bike lanes are a harder sell here. Bloomberg is probably worried about backlash from the project in general, since it may be the largest reallocation of road space in NYC ever by a single project. With bike lanes tending to attract an undue amount of that backlash, it makes sense why they are the first to get the axe. Also, it’s just easier (from both traffic flow and public perception perspectives) to take one lane at a time away from cars. One lane this year, one lane next year.

    Safety, as you mention, is a great way to sell these lanes, so it’s likely that these will keeping coming back, until they eventually do get installed. In the meantime, I’ll take better bus service now, and keep pushing for better bike lanes in the future.

  • Glenn

    J – it may not have started as a safety project, but increasingly this is one of the key selling points to local residents. Calmer streets is almost more of a benefit than slightly faster buses. The pedestrian islands that come from the various designs will greatly shorten crossing times and make cars take turns more carefully.

    But I hear you on the incremental approach. If DOT had proposed that or even said that was their plan, I’d be hard pressed to object. But instead they sold it as part of the plan north of 34th all along and now it’s essentially stripped out until the Mayor can see traffic studies on the stripped down version probably. But without the bike lanes, you take out a major safety improvement for pedestrians as evidenced by these enormous drops on Allen & Pike. So now, north of 34th, all we have is car speeds versus bus speeds without much of the safety component to measure.

  • “Evidence continues to mount that NYCDOT’s street reclamation projects are making New York a safer city for walking and biking.”
    I’d like to suggest a replacement sentence:
    “Evidence continues to mount that NYCDOT’s street reclamation projects are making New York a safer city for people.”
    Even the most avid/rabid car lover has to walk – at some stage!

  • J

    Good point, Shirty. The evidence shows that slower streets are safer for drivers as well.

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