September 26, 2012
New York City Is A Dangerous Place To Walk
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
New York City: It´s a big place with plenty of people where anything can happen, and not all of it good. According to this year´s copy of the Mayor´s Management Report (compiled twice per year), one area where NYC prides itself is showing some signs of slipping, slowly making life more dangerous for the many pedestrians who walk the city streets and sidewalks.While New York City once claimed that their bike lanes and pedestrian plazas once made their city safer, new data suggests that more people are dying as a result of being hit by cars despite these efforts. Released last week, the Mayor´s Management Report (MMR) suggests that traffic fatalities were up by 23% from last year, from 236 in 2011 to 291 in 2012.
In fact, this was the first recorded increase in death-by-traffic numbers since 2007, where there was another sharp increase amongst years of decline.
The trouble with these numbers is how directly they affect pedestrians. The total number of crashes in New York City continues to fall for the second straight year, meaning more of these fatalities come from cyclists or pedestrians being struck by vehicles. For example, 176 people on foot or pedal were killed in crashes this year, up from last year´s 158. The rest of this year´s traffic deaths involved people inside the cars, and even then there was a sharp increase over last year: 78 to 115.
According to New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, these numbers suggest that there is a rising trend in the way of traffic fatalities.
The report also suggests that the majority of these accidents, 54% to be exact, are happening when motorists drive while intoxicated, run red lights or speed through the streets. Furthermore, most of these accidents occurred on highways as opposed to inside the city, where the Transportation department has been focusing much of their efforts.
According to the New York Times, the previous 4 years of decline may have lulled the city council into thinking they were on a long downward trend.
“Certainly if we get this result next year, I think we have to look at many of the reconfigurations to see if they´ve been positive,” said councilman James Vacca, speaking to the Times.
“We´ve been led to believe that things in the last several years were getting much better.”
In addition to drunk and speedy driving, Ms. Sadik-Khan points a finger of blame to distracted driving and distracted walking, calling out Apple and fighting lovers specifically.
“I don´t think that the iPhone has invented an app yet that will ping you when you hit a crosswalk,” said Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan, before adding, “That breakup text can wait.”
To catch the attention of millions of everyday pedestrians, New York City officials have announced plans to paint the word “LOOK!” in large, bold white letters along the curbsides of the city´s most dangerous intersections in hopes that walkers and bikers will be spurred to look upward at what´s happening.
Not everyone is prepared to blame distracted driving and walking for this uptick in fatalities, however. One director of a cycling and pedestrian advocacy group says the blame lies on careless motorists and lazy police officers.
“Anyone who walks or bikes across a New York City street knows that motorists are getting away with reckless driving, day in, day out,” said Paul Steely White, Executive director of Transportation Alternatives.
As for the police, White simply said they´re “not doing their job.”