While we continue to fight with DOT engineers to put our safety first at each of our crosswalks, especially on 41st and 42nd Streets, studies show that avoiding 44% of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in New york city is entirely feasible , even with limited resources, provided there is political will.

First a medical study of injured pedestrians and cyclists in the city, was conducted by a team of trauma surgeons, emergency physicians and researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center.

“One harrowing take-away from the report is that no area, it seems, can be entirely safe. Six percent of pedestrians were injured while on a sidewalk. Of those injured on the street, 44 percent used a crosswalk, with the signal, compared with 23 percent who crossed midblock and 9 percent who crossed against the signal. …For Maureen Landers,  “no one is yielding to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. I don’t know how to teach my 9-year-old to cross the street.” ( NY times , April 2nd 2013) . 

Indeed keep in mind that all pedestrians are not equally at risk: According to TSTC new report 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.

This is a reason we have been asking for split phase signals along the bike lanes and on critical intersections. A split phase signal, allows pedestrians to cross the side street without conflict since the turning cars still have the red light. Such devices are installed on the 8th and 9th Avenue bike lanes in Chelsea and it makes a world of difference. A side benefit is that it reduces the amount  of honking for cars wanting to make the turn.

Second , Researchers at Oregon State University have simulated driver behavior during one of the more risky maneuvers on the road: the left-hand turn into oncoming traffic. Some intersections have a dedicated green light for left-turning drivers. We wish we had such at the south crossing of 42nd Street! More often, though, they have to make a run for it whenever they can, darting through gaps in the oncoming traffic.

This study suggests that 4 to 9 percent of drivers never even pause to look if there are pedestrians in the way before pulling into the intersection. Not surprisingly, as the number of approaching cars increased, the amount of time drivers spent focusing on pedestrians declined.  Atlantic Cities

Finally, it would help if the NYPD did enforce the law to Yield to Pedestrians in the crosswalk” instead of urgently waving cars into crossings full of pedestrians.  Do pedestrian decoy operations have any effect ?  At least one study suggests that they might, if combined with a concerted educational approach. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis looked at a two-week-long Miami Beach “driver-yielding enforcement program,” which included decoy pedestrians, feedback flyers, and written and verbal warnings. The article’s authors found that the program made a measurable difference in driver behavior:

Results indicated that the percentage of drivers yielding to pedestrians increased following the introduction of the enforcement program in each corridor and that these increases were sustained for a period of a year with minimal additional enforcement. The effects also generalized somewhat to untreated crosswalks in both corridors, as well as to crosswalks with traffic signals.Police Stings for Drivers Who Dont Yield in Crosswalks: Does It Really Work? – Sarah Goodyear – The Atlantic Cities.

This goes to show that avoiding 44% of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in New york city is entirely feasible , even with limited resources, provided there is political will.

In this election year, ask the candidates if they are committed to reduce pedestrian  injuries and fatalities  by 44% .

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Team Chekpeds
Team Chekpeds
11 years ago

For Maureen Landers who’s worried about teaching her child to cross streets along. When my kids were first learning to cross the street by themselves — a very long time ago — I taught them routes that did not have turning cars. From our house on West 76th, to get to PS 87, they had to walk to Amsterdam and cross 77th St. (westbound). Going via Columbus and crossing 77th St. where there were turning cars was strictly forbidden, even though it may have been a little shorter. On other streets, we sometimes had to cross a couple of extra ways to avoid turning cars. Turning cars in NYC have always been a problem.

Judith Bronfman