Are New York's Streets Safe for Pedestrians?

A spate of high profile pedestrian deaths have New Yorkers wondering just how safe it is to traverse their city on foot.
March 11, 2013, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In the last month in New York, a woman was killed when a Honda sport utility vehicle "careered onto the sidewalk" where she was walking and "a 6-year-old boy walking to school with his brother was killed when a tractor-trailer turned right onto First Avenue from 117th Street in East Harlem, hitting him," writes Ginia Bellafante.

"When events like this happen sequentially, taking on the cast of epidemic, it is reasonable to ask just how safe walking really is in New York. According to newly released data from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit group that works to reduce car dependence, there were 451 pedestrian fatalities in the city between 2009 and 2011, fewer than the number of homicides in 2011."

"However much we might seem uniquely susceptible to pedestrian fatality in a place where so much of life transpires on foot, New York still turns out to be a safer place to walk than most other big cities in the country," she adds. "In a ranking of metropolitan areas with populations of one million people or more, Transportation for America, another advocacy group, listed New York at No. 50 — behind Orlando, Miami, Denver, Chicago, Austin and San Francisco — in terms of the number of pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 people. This was true even though New York had the highest percentage of people — 6.1 percent — walking to work."

But does this mean the city can't do more to enhance the safety of pedestrians? Transportation Alternatives and Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, have some ideas.

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Published on Saturday, March 9, 2013 in The New York Times
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