Livingston Bridge Walkway. | Photo: Parks & Trails New York
You’ve heard of the pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, but did you know that New York’s Capital District has its own “Walkway over the Hudson?” Well, it used to anyway. Tri-State’s ally for a more sustainable transportation network, Parks & Trails New York, is working to make sure [...]
Vehicles have been colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists at an alarming rate in upstate New York. According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation Accident Files, there have been 11,803 collisions in five of the most populous upstate counties (Albany, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga and Westchester) in the last four years, which amounts to about eight people struck by vehicles each day.
So it comes as no surprise that in 2012, New York received the dubious distinction of ranking number one in the nation with the highest percentage of traffic fatalities for pedestrians and bicyclists: 27 percent of the people who died on New York’s roads were walking or biking to their destinations.
Although New York has the highest percentage of pedestrian and cyclist deaths nation-wide, NYSDOT is planning to cut spending on infrastructure and amenities that improve safety for walking and biking by 40 percent over the next four years. | Image: WIVB.com
What is surprising is that despite these alarming numbers — and the fact that the State’s Complete Streets law went into effect in 2012 – the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is planning to spend less on infrastructure and amenities that improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
According to Tri-State’s analysis of NYSDOT’s “2013 Draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)”, the blueprint for transportation funding in the state, New York will be spending 40 percent less of its overall transportation dollars in the next four years on measures, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle lanes or pedestrian islands, that make it safer and more inviting for people to walk and bike. According to the draft 2014-2017 STIP, New York plans to spend only 0.98 percent of its transportation dollars, representing a reduction of more than $100 million across the state on pedestrian and bicycling safety projects, as compared to 2011-2014’s spending plan. For those larger road and bridge projects that contain some component of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, NYSDOT is also planning to spend 63 percent less of its overall transportation dollars than it did in the previous STIP.
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The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) recently issued a draft plan of transportation projects it will be tackling from 2014-2017. This draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) will encompass more than $32 billion in federal, state and local funds, and is the best “blueprint” for what the State’s transportation priorities will be in the near future. Unfortunately for pedestrians and bicyclists, who jointly represent 27 percent of the total fatalities on New York’s roads, it doesn’t look like they are high on NYSDOT’s priority list.
The core of the problem may lie with NYSDOT’s new “Preservation First” policy.
In the fall of 2012, NYSDOT issued a STIP guide document to the 13 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across the state to help guide their decisions on what projects will get built, and what projects will not. The document outlined what the agency called a “fundamental shift” in the philosophy and principles behind how New York State “develops, programs and funds transportation infrastructure.” Called the “primary focus” of four guiding principles, this new “Preservation First” policy emphasizes fixing existing transportation infrastructure before building new or expanded infrastructure. While Tri-State supports fix-it-first policies like Preservation First as the most efficient use of limited resources, a loophole in the policy appears to be preserving not just 1950s-era infrastructure, but also a 1950s-era mentality. In other words, cars first, with pedestrians and bicyclists fighting for scraps.
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NYSDOT plans to extend the LIE’s existing HOV lane (green) from 58th to 97th Street in Queens (purple).
Not to be outdone by Connecticut and New Jersey, it looks like New York State is also looking to join the highway widening party.
The Draft New York State FFY 2014-2017 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) was recently released for [...]
Vehicles regularly exceed the posted 40 mph speed limit on Sunrise Highway at Benson Place in Freeport, NY.
TSTC conducted a study last month to measure speeding motorists on two sections of Sunrise Highway (NY State Route 27) in Freeport, Long Island. Using a radar gun, TSTC clocked motorists travelling westbound during the morning rush hour, first where Sunrise Highway intersects Benson Place, and then where it intersects Guy Lombardo Avenue. Readings were taken between 8:25 and 8:45 a.m. and between 9:00 and 9:25 a.m., respectively.
The first location has a 40 mph speed limit and sits just outside of a reduced speed limit zone as motorists approach Freeport’s commercial corridor. The second location is located right in the heart of Freeport’s downtown, with a posted speed limit of 30 mph. At both locations, Route 27 is a six-lane major arterial roadway that serves local and through traffic along Nassau County’s south shore.
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Pedestrians 60 years and older in the tri-state region are disproportionately at risk of being killed in collisions with vehicles while walking, according to TSTC’s annual “Older Pedestrians at Risk And How States Can Make it Safer and Easier for Older Residents to Walk” report. This year’s report examines pedestrian fatality data from 2009 through 2011 and finds that 413 pedestrians 60 and older were killed in collisions with vehicles during the study period. Older pedestrians represent just 18.7 percent of the tri-state area population but account for 33.3 percent of the region’s pedestrian fatalities. The fatality rate for pedestrians 60 years and older in the tri-state region is more than 2.2 times higher than the fatality rate for pedestrians under 60. Pedestrians 75 and older have a fatality rate 2.9 times higher than that of pedestrians under 60.
The report notes that the tri-state region’s overall older pedestrian fatality rate has dropped since TSTC’s first Older Pedestrians at Risk report in 2010, which examined pedestrian fatality data from 2006 through 2008. Looking at the rates of individual states, however, older pedestrian fatality rates increased in New Jersey from last year’s report, but they dropped in both downstate New York and Connecticut.
The aging of the Baby Boomer generation necessitates that roads in our region be redesigned to accommodate the needs of older pedestrians. Road improvements that make roads safer and easier for older pedestrians to cross – such as curb ramps, well-marked crosswalks, pedestrian crossing islands and pedestrian countdown signals – also help pedestrians of all ages, from parents with small children to teenagers.
The tri-state region continues to move ahead on pedestrian safety initiatives and improvements, but with over 1,240 pedestrians killed in the three years from 2009 through 2011, more must be done.
To create roads that are safer for pedestrians, bicyclist and motorists alike, the report offers recommendations for state agencies, legislatures, municipalities and counties in each state. The full report, and fact sheets broken out by county, can be downloaded here.
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Development of Toll Collection System for the City-Owned Bridges Leading into Manhattan (City of New York Transportation Administration, 1972)
Engineering, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Reevaluation of State Implementation Plan Strategy B-7: Tolls on East & Harlem River Bridges (NYSDOT, 1977)
TSTC staff spent Monday afternoon tidying up our offices, and we [...]
There were 1,135 vehicle crashes with pedestrians or bicyclists in Albany County between January 1, 2009 and May 31, 2012. | Map: Geocommons.com
There were 2,442 vehicle crashes with pedestrians or bicyclists in Westchester County between January 1, 2009 and May 31, 2012. | Map: Geocommons.com
From January 1, 2009 through May [...]
NYSDOT’s new Complete Streets website.
While the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is not required to lead the local implementation of the State’s Complete Streets Act, municipal leaders, advocates and engineers are looking to the agency for the tools required to plan and execute Complete Streets initiatives. NYSDOT’s new Complete Streets website, however, provides [...]