Pedestrian crashes are the leading cause of injury hospitalizations at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, Dr. Jamie Ullman told audience members at the second annual New York City Summit on Pedestrian Injury last week. In 2009, 256 people were treated at the hospital for a pedestrian injury. Though the vast majority of those treated recovered from their injuries, the average hospital stay came to 10 days.
Held at the hospital, the summit brought together state and city officials, doctors, advocates, and representatives from law enforcement and emergency response agencies to discuss the persistent problem of pedestrian injury and death in New York City. City pedestrian fatalities hover at a stubborn 150 per year.
Perhaps the most exciting presentation came from NYCDOT’s Robin Kenton, who announced the forthcoming kick-off of a new social marketing campaign targeting speeding and reckless drivers. NYCDOT’s “Look” campaign for bicyclist safety was well-received by advocates and the public, and this new campaign will likely follow that model.
The city has made progress, implementing traffic calming, street closures and other engineering and design improvements throughout the five boroughs. But enforcement continues to lag, and NYPD’s representatives at the summit did nothing to dispel the conventional wisdom that the agency cares more about moving cars than protecting pedestrians. Joseph Ellis of the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau warned against “slowing down vehicular traffic to speed up pedestrian traffic — you can’t just do that. The motorists are unhappy.”
Representatives from Nassau County also attended the event, where Tri-State’s Michelle Ernst gave a presentation reviewing the Campaign’s recent Most Dangerous Roads for Walking report. Given that the report identified Hempstead Turnpike as the most dangerous road in the region, their participation was an encouraging sign. They clearly recognized the importance of pedestrian safety and promised that they were working to address it.
Image: Screengrab from a NY1 segment on the summit.