Mayor Bloomberg and NYCDOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan announced on Wednesday that 2009 saw a record low number of traffic fatalities — down to 256 from about 290 in 2008, a decline of 12 percent over the year, and a 35 percent decline since 2001 when 392 people were killed on New York City streets.
Unfortunately, even as motorist and bicyclist deaths dropped, pedestrian fatalities rose slightly in 2009, to 155. Pedestrians now comprise 60 percent of NYC’s traffic deaths, a statistic that makes it clear that the city needs to continue making walking safer.
Commissioner Sadik-Khan recognized this in her remarks, saying, “We will continue to engineer safer streets, but the fact is that too many accidents are preventable, involving inattention, speeding, drunk driving and motorists who simply fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Working with NYPD, we will work to keep New Yorkers safe from reckless motorists who put everyone on the road in jeopardy.”
TSTC Pedestrian Report Continues to Draw Attention to Safety Needs
Tri-State’s Most Dangerous Roads for Walking report has continued to spur insightful media coverage and government action three weeks after it was released earlier this month. Last weekend, the New York Times‘ metropolitan section took a close look at the deadliest road in the region, Nassau County’s Hempstead Turnpike. One Long Island academic summed up the problems with the road’s design as follows:
“I can’t think of a single redeeming feature about Hempstead Turnpike,” said Lee Koppelman, a director of the Center for Regional Policy Studies at Stony Brook University. He declared the road “another of these state-maintained archaic arterials with uncontrolled commercial development on each side, no shoulder, no real median, where every driveway into every parking lot is in effect an intersection. A disaster waiting to happen.”
Those who work near the road echoed that assessment:
Robert Quinn, [manager of a Levittown flower shop], said that the traffic was more deadly than ever. He pointed west, toward a roadside shrine on a telephone pole at the intersection with Loring Road, right beside the “Welcome to Levittown” sign. The shrine is wrapped with artificial flowers, stuffed animals, a “poem from Heaven” and pictures of a smiling teenager: Lauren Emily Davis, who was 18 on Dec. 30, 2008, when she was killed as she tried to cross.
“I used to go across the street to the luncheonette, but these days I stay on this side,” Mr. Quinn said. “Why tempt fate?”
In the article, Nassau County officials said they were considering adding red-light cameras to six intersections on the road, and NYSDOT plans to improve six other intersections.
Image: TSTC graphic using data from NYCDOT. “All other” fatalities include vehicle drivers, passengers, and motorcyclists.