A new national report by Transportation for America finds 1 in 5 traffic deaths in NY are pedestrians. Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods) finds over the last 10 years 3,222 New Yorkers died from the simple act of walking.
One of the biggest contributors to pedestrian fatalities is the way streets are designed. An overwhelming proportion of these pedestrian deaths occurred along “arterial” roads, multilane roads through populated areas designed for speeding cars with little or no consideration for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. These deaths are preventable with safer street design that incorporates complete streets principles like road diets, crosswalks, countdown clocks and other traffic calming elements.
The breadth and number of organizations and individuals supporting the NYS Complete Streets bill (S.5411) is staggering, and their reasons for supporting it are as diverse as their missions. More than 60 groups have submitted memos of support to the legislature (read the full list here). Although the bill is poised for a full vote in the Senate soon, the Assembly has yet to introduce a matching bill.
Not everyone can drive, or afford to drive. Without good infrastructure for walking and biking, and without safe routes to transit and school, many New Yorkers are left stranded. In fact, seniors, children, people of color are disproportionately represented in pedestrian fatalities. Consider this:
- From 2000-2007, the average pedestrian death rate for Hispanics was 67% higher than non-Hispanic whites. The average pedestrian death rate for African Americans was 20% higher than non-Hispanic whites.
- New York seniors, aged 65 years or more, suffered an average pedestrian death rate 283% higher than residents under age 65, making NY 4th in the country for senior pedestrian deaths.
- From 2000 to 2007, 205 children 15 years and younger were killed while walking in NY. Nationwide, pedestrian injury is the 3rd leading cause of death by unintentional injury for children 15 and younger.
The window for passing Complete Streets bill in NY is closing in on us fast the legislative session comes to an end on June 20th.
Before he was elected last year, Governor Cuomo told AARP that he would support a complete streets bill “which takes into consideration all users including motorists, bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, when designing and operating roadways.” Now’s his chance to make good on that promise. Tell the governor and members of the State Assembly to support safer streets today.