Hempstead Turnpike Still Region’s Most Dangerous Road

For the third year in a row, Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County is the region’s most dangerous road for walking, according to Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s just-released Most Dangerous Roads for Walking report.  Between 2007 and 2009, twelve pedestrians were killed on that 16-mile stretch of suburban highway cutting through Nassau County’s most densely populated towns.  The victims included three seniors, and a pair of adult brothers.

At four to six lanes across along most of its length, and lined with strip malls, fast food restaurants, and shopping centers, the Hempstead Turnpike serves as a perfect example of a wide suburban “arterial” road.  In the tri-state region, nearly two-thirds (63%) of pedestrian fatalities occur on these types of roads.

Manhattan’s Broadway ranked second in the Campaign’s report, with 11 fatalities over the three-year period.  With the exception of one fatality near City Hall, all of the Broadway pedestrian deaths occurred in northern Manhattan, where the road handles two-way traffic.  There were no fatalities along the stretches of Broadway that have been transformed through NYC Department of Transportation’s Green Light for Midtown program.

The Campaign’s analysis found that the Burlington Pike (US-130) in Burlington County was the most dangerous road in New Jersey.  Over three years, ten pedestrians were killed on the road.  Like the Hempstead Turnpike, Burlington Pike is four to six lanes across most of the route’s 23 miles, with shops and retail destinations along both sides of the road, but few crosswalks.

The Campaign’s findings confirm previous reports which concluded that road design — and in particular, the design of conventional arterials — is a primary contributor to pedestrian risk.  With multiple lanes, long sightlines, and fewer interruptions from cross traffic or pedestrians, arterials encourage traffic to speed.  Prevailing travel speeds on arterials tend to be upwards of 40 mph.  A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at this speeds has a dismal 15 percent chance of survival.

Communities across the tri-state region are beginning to recognize the hazards of typical suburban-style road design.  Connecticut has implemented a “Complete Streets” law requiring that new construction seek to accommodate the needs of all roads users.  And late last year, outgoing governor Jodi Rell announced significant changes to ConnDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian policies aimed at improving the delivery and increasing the funding available for bicycle and pedestrian projects.  New Jersey’s Department of Transportation has increased funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects and recently signed a Complete Streets policy.  New York State has implemented a SafeSeniors program seeking to address pedestrian safety for older New Yorkers, and NYCDOT has emerged as a national leader in carving out safe public spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Elsewhere in downstate New York, at least six communities have adopted Complete Streets policies or resolutions.

But with approximately 415 pedestrian killed on the region’s roadways every year, there’s still a long way to go.  A good place to start would be for the New York State legislature to pass the critically-needed Complete Streets bill that has languished in Albany for nearly a year.  Beyond that, the Campaign recommends that all three states in the region:

  • Make pedestrian safety a policy and investment priority;
  • Protect the most vulnerable pedestrians through increased spending on Safe Routes to School, Safe Routes to Transit, and Safe Routes for Seniors programs;
  • Designate a fair share of federal funding to improving bicycling and walking; and,
  • Ask our congressional delegation to fight to protect and expand federal programs that provide significant funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

After the jump, the full ranking of the region’s most dangerous roads.

Rank Change in Ranking (Prior Year’s Rank) Road County Pedestrian Fatalities (2007-2009)
1 (1) SR-24 (Hempstead Tpke/Conklin St) Nassau, NY 12
2 ↑ (7) Broadway Manhattan, NY 11
3 (3) US-130 (Burlington Pike) Burlington, NJ 10
4 (2) SR-27 (Sunrise Hwy) Suffolk, NY 9
5 (3) Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY 8
5 ↑ (8) 7th Ave Manhattan, NY 8
5 new Henry Hudson Pkwy/West St Manhattan, NY 8
8 ↑ (17) US-322/40 (Blackhorse Pike/Albany Ave) Atlantic, NJ 7
8 (8) US-1 Middlesex, NJ 7
8 (8) Route 549 Ocean, NJ 7
8 (8) US-1&9 Union, NJ 7
8 (8) Kings Hwy Brooklyn, NY 7
8 ↑ (17) Ocean Pkwy Brooklyn, NY 7
8 ↑ (17) Bowery Manhattan, NY 7
8 new SR-27 (Sunrise Hwy) Nassau, NY 7
8 (3) SR-25 (Middle Country Rd) Suffolk, NY 7
8 new Broadway the Bronx, NY 7
8 ↑ (24) Grand Concourse the Bronx, NY 7

3 Comments on "Hempstead Turnpike Still Region’s Most Dangerous Road"

  1. A great report as usual Tri-State but why not break down these stats into fatalities per mile? You even admit in the report that you didn’t factor this into your rankings. I think knowing “fatalities per mile of roadway” is a much better metric for ranking the true danger each roadway presents to pedestrians.

  2. PS – I was thinking last night and I wondered why you just looked at fatal crashes?? Why not include crashes that required immediate medical attention too? I believe that data should be out there since crashes that require an ambulance on-seen should also have crash reports. I think the extra data points would paint a more detailed and more even picture of the actual hazards to pedestrians everyday that is less prone to surges and troughs.

  3. I lived just off Hempstead Tpke my whole life, crossed it many of times as a kid and as an adult, have driven the Tpke my whole life. I understand the idea of making the road safer. However putting no right on Red signs on every intersection is uncalled for. Some of the intersection where the signs have been placed is an over kill. The only thing this is going to do is create more traffic. Cars that made rights can no longer, means more cars more traffic. In regards to the timing of the lights, cars will go faster to try catching lights. The infrastructure of Long Island is inadequate.
    * Money should be going to the rebuilding of the Southern Pkwy and Northern Pkwys.
    * Others things we could do Cell Phone usage in cars, technology today can stop it. Most people do not pay attention and cannot multitask
    * People learning to drive is inadequate, they do not learn what it’s like to drive in traffic on mainroads. They need to build confidence before getting licenses.
    * Speeding – technology today can control the speed of cars, why do cars go faster than 65?
    * Intersections – technology can control how long lights change red to green

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