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NYC Trumpets 2012 Street Statistics: More Transit, Less Traffic

Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 12:44 PM

Taxis, pedestrians, and Citi Bikers: the usual Manhattan street melange. (Kate Hinds)

Redesigning New York City streets to be more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly doesn't hurt car travel times. That's according to a new report quantifying the streetscape-changing efforts of the Department of Transportation.

To put it in other terms: transit ridership is up, traffic is down, and there's been a 58 percent increase in cycling since 2008.

That data is laid out in the latest 2012 Sustainable Streets Index, an annual report released by the NYC DOT tracking transportation trends.

The report also uses crash data; vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian volumes; transit ridership; and travel times (largely tracked through taxi GPS data) to measure the effectiveness of the city's street alternation projects.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan recently told WNYC: "Our street designs, our safety programs, and our education campaigns have helped reduce traffic fatalities by more than 30 percent in the last ten years."

That hasn't come at the expense of vehicle traffic. According to the report, average taxi speeds increased in Manhattan's Central Business District (the area south of 60th Street) up to a swift 9.3 m.p.h. in 2012—a slight increase over 2011's average of 8.9 m.p.h.

(The city's speed limit is 30 m.p.h. But that's not the point.)

"There are notable increases in safety for all road users, including motorists, as a result of traffic calming," said Veronica Vanterpool, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign a group that advocates for safer streets. "And it has positively impacted the flow of traffic. For critics who believe that traffic calming measures exacerbate congestion, the data in this index refutes that."

Another notable marker: bus ridership was up .08 percent in 2012—reflecting the first such increase since 2008 and demonstrating ridership is slowly rebounding after the massive 2010 MTA bus service cuts.  (For the past two years, the MTA has restored some of that slashed bus service).

The report notes "subway and bus ridership has resumed pre-recession growth while auto traffic remains essentially flat."

Other highlights:

  • The intersection of Seventh Avenue and West 23rd Street has experienced a 61 percent decrease in crashes with injuries since new pedestrian islands were installed and traffic patterns were changed 
  • Since 2003, transit ridership is up 9.5 percent while citywide traffic has declined 3.9 percent
  • Transit ridership in Manhattan's Central Business District is up 11.3 percent in the same time period
  • In downtown Flushing, crashes with pedestrian injuries are down 30 percent while travel times have also decreased by up to 37 percent during peak hours
  • Winter cycling has increased 86 percent since 2008

Read the full report below.

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Comments [2]

Chang from NYC

> SWIFT 9.3 MPH! I hear entire US population is laughing, only in New York! Counting down signals finally here contributed the most in safely crossing wide avenues. Mass transit ridership increased with population increase. Car ridership decreased with higher gas price and tolls and other non-sense of driving in Manhattan. If stats are bad, everything else will be blamed. Please at least pretend to quote once what motorists are saying. NYC revenue has to come from cars, not from bikes. The notion of cars as environmental problem is so passé. Hybrid and electric and small cars should be encouraged. And once cars get into Manhattan (not NYC, please don't generalize traffic as "NYC"), make them move within speed limit 30mph and make it safer for pedestrians and try to get some credit. Otherwise any city can achieve what you think has been good. NYC needs innovation not the same old trick of making one side :( to make other :)
> 9.3mph is not called traffic calming. It's called turtle crawling producing pollution. Wasted time is wasted money which can be used to save lives also. Many small business owners have to drive for economic reason for business delivery without option. Please ask once what other motorists are saying besides me.
> It's the end of 2013, what about some stat for the year? I bet MTA ridership going down with bike sharing going up in Manhattan, because that's the opportunity cost and that's exactly why bike promotion in Manhattan doesn't contribute to environment by less congestion. Actually bikes without car ownership given up, counter intuitively, don't burn less gas and make congestion worse. NYC needs independent finding of "efforts" besides by self praising agency.
> Please remove NO TURN ON RED signs in Manhattan or anywhere in NYC.

Dec. 07 2013 10:50 PM
taha diop from NYC

MS COMMISSIONER I GIVE YOU MY CAB FOR 1 12 HOUR SHIFT FREE OF CHARGE STATISTICS COULD LOOK GOOD FOR YOU BUT IS NOT WORKING FOR THE REST OF US !

Sep. 07 2013 07:33 PM

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