Pennies for Pedestrians: NY State Spends Small on Street Safety

QueensBlvdPedWarning.jpgNew York State devotes just 1 percent of its federal transportation funds to pedestrian infrastructure. Photo: Wikipedia

It’s not news that a half-century of transportation spending to accommodate the automobile has made the typical American city hazardous and hostile to people on foot. But it’s shocking how we still devote so few resources to correcting those mistakes. A new report released today by a coalition of advocacy groups, including Transportation for America and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, quantifies current funding disparities and the cost in human lives. From T4A:

In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community. More than 43,000 Americans — including 3,906 children under 16 — have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.

Counterintuitive as it may be, "Dangerous by Design" also finds that, when it comes to investing in pedestrian-friendly streets, New York has little room to boast. Here are local stats culled from the report, issued in a joint statement from TSTC, Transportation Alternatives, the Regional Plan Association and TWU Local 100:

  • 22.5 percent of total traffic deaths in New York State are pedestrians
  • 31 percent of total traffic deaths in the NYC metropolitan area are pedestrians
  • Only 1 percent of New York State federal transportation funds are spent on pedestrian infrastructure, an average of $0.73 per person
  • New York State ranks 44th in the nation for federal spending on walking and biking
  • The NYC metropolitan area receives only $0.61 per person in federal funds for pedestrian and bike facilities, well below the meager $1.39 spent per person for metro areas nationwide

Advocates are calling on Governor Paterson and the New York State Legislature to designate 10 percent of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and 10 percent of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding for pedestrian safety; to enact a statewide complete streets policy; to increase funding for Safe Routes to School and Safe Seniors programs; and to create a statewide Safe Routes to Transit program.

"From 2005 to 2008, New York has received $5.6 billion in federal transportation funds," reads the statement. "In the same amount of time there have been 1,215 preventable pedestrian deaths."

You can download "Dangerous By Design" in its entirety here. Elana Schor
has more on the report’s national implications at Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

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