More Evidence That Open Streets Improve Safety

An analysis of New York's 34th Avenue shows substantial reductions in crashes and injuries, strengthening the body of evidence supporting car-free streets.

January 12, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A new analysis from Streetsblog shows significant improvements in pedestrian safety on car-free streets, reports Gersh Kuntzman.

The study used data from New York City's 34th Avenue open street to compare the number of reported crashes and injuries during open streets hours (8am to 8pm), finding a sharp reduction in both. The street also saw fewer crashes and injuries during non-open streets hours, when drivers seemed more likely to avoid the street or drive more carefully due to the daytime restrictions.

Open streets advocates point to this evidence as proof that permanently banning cars from roadways could even further improve pedestrian safety. As activist Luz Maria Mercado put it, "If these are the safety results we’ve gotten from cheap barricades, imagine how safe a 24/7 linear park would be." In addition to making roads safer, open streets initiatives provide much-needed safe, open space in urban communities that frequently lack adequate park space. 

But despite early promises from city officials, the proposed plan for a permanent open street on 34th Avenue would not be a true linear park, but rather a combination of car-free blocks and shared streets with diverters intended to slow drivers while maintaining vehicular access.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 in Streetsblog New York City

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