NYPD’s Pedestrian Safety Message Hasn’t Changed at All Under Ray Kelly

Those NYPD pedestrian safety tips that Streetsblog posted Wednesday? It turns out they’re nothing new — in fact, they date from at least the Giuliani administration. Despite all the progress the city has made on street safety and all the research the city has produced on the leading causes of pedestrian injuries and deaths, under Ray Kelly, the NYPD still hasn’t modernized its antiquated message.

Photo: The City Review

The flier (reposted below) contains recommendations sent out by NYPD headquarters, saying that in response to a rise in pedestrian fatalities, police urge people to observe precautions like not walking “during bad weather.”

Reader Chris O’Leary tweeted a link Wednesday to a letter to the Daily News dated January 16, 1998, that references some of the same NYPD tips — wear “light or bright” clothing, carry a flashlight, and “do whatever it takes to make yourself more visible to drivers.” At the time, Giuliani was penning in pedestrians on Midtown sidewalks and ordering a crackdown on “jaywalking.” Of course, those pedestrian pens are still in place, and the same street safety tips appear on the city’s web site to this day.

In the 12 years that Ray Kelly has served as Michael Bloomberg’s police commissioner, DOT became a standard-bearer in engineering urban streets for pedestrian and cyclist safety. The city itself released a report three years ago basically debunking the myth that “pedestrian error” explains most fatalities.

Yet the police force hailed for using statistical analysis to drive down crime still responds to pedestrian deaths by advising New Yorkers to avoid walking when it’s dark. Where is the reality-based, data-driven message to motorists, reminding people to observe the speed limit, drive attentively, and yield to pedestrians?

With Kelly at the helm, NYPD’s message about traffic safety never changed.

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