A new Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis reveals that the streets around some Long Island Rail Road stations can be especially perilous for walking and biking. The study analyzes crash data from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) from 2013 to 2015. In those three years, there were more than 2,000 crashes involving a vehicle and vulnerable road user within a half-mile of LIRR stations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
The vast majority of these crashes were nonfatal, but the crash frequency around some stations reveals a disturbing trend. Stations in Hempstead and Freeport had the most crashes within their immediate vicinities compared to all stations on Long Island. Between 2013 and 2015, 142 crashes occurred within a half-mile of Hempstead Station, resulting in 148 people injured and three fatalities. Within a half-mile of Freeport station, 137 total crashes resulted in 142 people injured and also three fatalities.
The majority of crashes occurred in relatively dense areas of western and central Nassau County. Some stations in Suffolk saw relatively high numbers of crashes (particularly the Huntington LIRR Station), but nearly three-quarters of all crashes studied occurred in Nassau County. Suffolk and Nassau Counties have consistently been ranked as the two most dangerous counties for walking in the tri-state region. The higher frequency in crashes in Nassau, however, may simply reflect just how many people walk and bike to these stations in the first place.
Long Island can’t afford to continue adding parking spaces at rail stations forever. To make walking and biking more attractive to commuters, LIRR should partner with NYSDOT to offer technical assistance, priority funding and grant eligibility to local municipalities. NJ Transit and NJDOT’s Transit Village program is still the leader in the tri-state region with such a partnership.