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



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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.

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