New York crosswalks are dangerous for pedestrians, study finds

April 3, 2013

Cyclists use the bike lane along New Hampshire Avenue in Washington. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

A new medical study conducted in New York found that taxis are a major threat to cyclists, while pedestrians are in the gravest danger while in crosswalks.

Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times writes about the study, which was conducted by a team of physicians and researchers at New York University’s Lagone Medical Center:

From December 2008 to June 2011, the group studied more than 1,400 pedestrians and cyclists treated at Bellevue Hospital Center after collisions. Most occurred in Manhattan and western Brooklyn, stretching along the busiest corridors of a city where street safety and traffic engineering have been trumpeted as defining legacies of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure.

The results of this study are being published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

Now, there’s no way to directly compare the streets of New York and D.C. There are massive differences in population, layout, transit and countless other things. (Plus, pretty much every “Let’s compare New York to D.C.” article is incredibly tiresome.)

But this is interesting as a look at how commuters in a crowded metropolitan area share packed roadways. Nearly one in 10 of the pedestrians and cyclists included in the study were using an electronic device like a phone or music player. An even higher share of pedestrians and cyclists ages 18 and older had alcohol before being involved in the collisions. And the study also notes that overweight pedestrians incurred less severe injuries in these collisions.

Pedestrian safety remains a major problem nationally as well as locally. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 70,000 pedestrians were injured and 4,280 killed in traffic crashes in 2010. And it’s a major problem in and around Washington: More than 2,600 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured in the region every year, and about 89 are killed, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Officials throughout the area promote pedestrian, driver and bicyclist safety with Street Smart, an annual program that began in 2002. There have also been other efforts, like this push in Prince George’s County to focus more on accounting for such safety; it followed regular safety problems in the county.

There have been several recent incidents with pedestrians being struck by vehicles recently. Two adults and a child were hit at a D.C. bus stop last week, at least six pedestrians locally were killed by vehicles in February and six pedestrians were injured on a single morning last month.

Robert Thomson, the Post’s Dr. Gridlock, recently discussed safety strategies for commuters who choose to walk. He has warned that pedestrians should “avoid relying on total strangers for your safety.”

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local
Next Story
Robert Thomson · April 3, 2013