There’s More to Bus-Pedestrian Safety Than “Crossing With Caution”

View Larger Map

New York City Transit has updated its annual list of bus crashes, and 2009 data show E. 57th Street and Third Avenue, mapped above, to be the most dangerous intersection citywide, with 29 collisions. Sutphin Boulevard at Archer Avenue in Queens saw 20 crashes last year, while Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U was the site of 19 bus-involved incidents. Manhattan’s E. 59th at Third Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street in Queens round out the top five, with 17 crashes each.

The complete 2009 list is here, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Though the data compilation is framed as part of NYCT’s "Cross With Caution" campaign, aimed at making pedestrians aware of especially hazardous intersections, the agency doesn’t differentiate between pedestrian collisions and crashes involving other vehicles. This renders the list essentially useless in terms of taking steps to increase safety beyond advising pedestrians to exercise "extra" care.

When we asked if NYCT keeps a separate count of pedestrian-involved collisions, here was the official response:

We want customers and pedestrians to
be well-informed and safe. The purpose of listing "Cross with Caution"
intersections on our website is to encourage pedestrians to use extra
caution when crossing at these corners because they have been the scene
of accidents in the past.

Not surprisingly, a spot check of Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat shows that intersections cited by NYCT tend to be historically dangerous for pedestrians, suggesting that factors such as street design and the risk posed by drivers of private vehicles are also at play. (What if bus drivers didn’t have to operate in a stream of unpredictable lawless traffic?) Still, of the four pedestrians we know of who were killed by a city bus in 2009, only one of those crashes occurred at an intersection on the "Cross With Caution" watch list.

NYCT is making important traffic safety info publicly available, which is more than we can say for NYPD. But there must be room for improvement in the methodology. For starters, a complete accounting of bus-involved pedestrian injuries and deaths would reinforce the case for real improvements that could save lives.

  • One would hope that the MTA, which has responsibility for our regional mass transit, would be less car-centric in its thinking. Why is the MTA conducting a “cross with caution” rather than “drive with caution” campaign? At best, “cross with caution” suggests that walking around the city is a dangerous activity, and, at worst, that if you get hit, it’s your fault. When are we going to see public safety campaigns aimed at reducing driving, which is the real culprit in making our streets unsafe to cross?

  • I’ll just link m previous comment on this intersection.

  • Before even reading this article, I crossed Park Ave at 33rd St and was rather annoyed at a sign that said “Cross With Caution.” Definitely made me want to come back late at night and scratch out the word “Cross” and replace it with “Drive”!

  • Planner Man

    These are all high volume locations. Just because they have more accidents, does not mean that they are more dangerous, it just means that more people use them. To truly find out how dangerous they are, you need to compare these rates to volumes and get an accidents per persons traversing this segment ratio.

  • Mike

    AKA “exposure”


Flushing Transpo Project Boosted Safety While Curbing Congestion

It might not be as bold or attention-grabbing as the overhaul of Times Square and Herald Square, but a set of changes made to New York City’s third-busiest pedestrian intersection is having its own quiet success. In Downtown Flushing, a 2010 project that expanded sidewalks, daylighted dangerous intersections, and introduced numerous turn restrictions is boosting […]