New Report Identifies Region’s Most Dangerous Roads for Pedestrians
Suburban routes top the list, pointing to need for redesigning roads with pedestrians in mind; New easy-to-use county level maps show location of each fatality
The tri-state region’s most dangerous road for pedestrians is the Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County, according to a new analysis by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a policy watchdog organization.
Between 2006 and 2008, 13 pedestrians were killed along the 16-mile stretch of roadway, with most of those fatalities occurring as the road passes through Elmont, Franklin Square and Hempstead.
“The most dangerous roads for walking are either major suburban roadways dotted with retail destinations but designed exclusively for fast-moving car traffic or extremely busy urban roads,” said Michelle Ernst, report author and staff analyst with the Campaign.
The analysis found the region’s most dangerous roads for walking over the three-year period were:
The group called for a more balanced approach to designing suburban roads, especially on Long Island, noting that relatively small capital investments can result in significant safety improvements.
“It’s upsetting that roads on Long Island have more pedestrian fatalities than roads in dense urban areas, where people tend to walk much more.” said Ryan Lynch, Senior Planner and Long Island Coordinator for the Campaign.
“Pedestrian improvements offer a tremendous bang for the buck,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Campaign. “Even with limited resources, the New York State Department of Transportation can step up efforts to design more balanced, walkable streets.”
The group applauded efforts that are already underway to improve safety in many of these corridors. The New York City Department of Transportation, for example, has implemented several programs aimed at reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities at targeted locations, including a Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes for Seniors program. The New York State Department of Transportation introduced a SafeSeniors pilot program to improve pedestrian safety on roads that are particularly dangerous for Long Island’s seniors.
Still, advocates said transportation departments must enhance safety efforts by starting new pedestrian programs and using existing federal dollars more efficiently.
“Progress has been made, but these tragic numbers prove that transportation agencies still have much work ahead,” said Slevin.
“The design of these streets encourages dangerous driving behavior like speeding and failure to yield,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “In a region where many families don’t own cars, that so many streets should be hostile to walking is appalling.”
In response to the report, AARP volunteers will survey a portion of Third Avenue today between 1:30pm and 2:30pm to assess its safety for older pedestrians. The volunteers will evaluate the crosswalks and street using a “walkability” survey developed by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results of the survey will be shared with the mayor’s office and other city policy makers.
“Safe, walkable streets are vital for older residents to maintain an independent lifestyle. Tri-State Transportation Campaign's assessment further demonstrates the critical role of local communities' infrastructure in keeping our aging citizens safe," said Will Stoner, associate state director of AARP. “AARP is committed to working with our local community members and decision makers to improve these most egregious roadways.”
Ernst used recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to determine which routes within each county had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities over the three-year period from 2006 to 2008. The analysis excludes Interstates and other roads where pedestrians are prohibited.
County fact sheets showing the most dangerous routes for walking are also available. The fact sheets also include an interactive Google Map showing the locations of each pedestrian fatality, with descriptive details for each victim killed on the county’s most dangerous route or routes.
The full report, as well as county fact sheets and Google Maps, can be found at www.tstc.org/danger.html.
AARP's walkability event will include a press conference and will take place at the southwest corner of 49th Street and Third Avenue, between 1:30pm and 2:30pm today.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.