Transportation Nation

Children in Low-Income Manhattan Neighborhoods More Likely To Be Hit By Cars

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Children under 18 account for 43% of car crash victims in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood. But just a few blocks south, in the moneyed Upper East Side, the same age group accounts for less than 15% of neighborhood car crash victims.

That's the conclusion of the new report "Child Crashes: An Unequal Burden"(pdf), released Thursday by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group. According to the group's research,  of the East Side's top ten intersections for motor vehicle crashes that kill or injure child pedestrians and bicyclists, "nine are located in close proximity to public housing developments in East Harlem and the Lower East Side."

The report  draws upon data from 1995-2009 that the group received after filing Freedom of Information Law requests to the New York State  DMV.

The city DOT is disputing the way Transportation Alternatives (TA) is presenting the data.

"There were a record-low three child pedestrian fatalities citywide last year, none of them in any of the neighborhoods cited in the report," said Seth Solomonow, a department spokesperson.

He cited agency statistics that show serious crashes went down 64% in the Lower East Side’s Community Board 3 and 38% in Harlem’s Community Board 11 over the course of the study period. In 2011, the number of traffic deaths in New York City fell to the lowest levels in a century-- a 40% drop from 2001.

A deeper dive into the data shows rates did indeed drop everywhere -- but that injury rates remain consistently higher in poorer neighborhoods.  In East Harlem in 1995, for example, 107 children were injured by cars. By 2009, that number had fallen to 47.  But that's still higher than the Upper East Side, which had 32 injuries of children at the highest point, and 17 in 2009. Children under 18 make up about 30% of the population of both neighborhoods.

TA concludes children on Manhattan's East Side are three times more likely to be hit by a car in a neighborhood where public housing is nearby.  Just last week, a 12-year-old girl was killed crossing a street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. She was a resident of the Jacob Riis Houses.

The report singles out East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue as the worst intersection in Manhattan for children.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council member who represents East Harlem, called the report "alarming."

"This really just kind of exacerbates the urgency and really demonstrates that particularly in my community, where I represent the most public housing in the city of New York, where I have the most number of developments, that this is a real immediate danger," she said.

She said she will bring together community groups and the NYC DOT to work collaboratively on the problem. Mark-Viverito has also been working with the local community board to bring protected bike lanes to East Harlem -- a project which was recently derailed but she said is expected to go before the board again in March.

In an email, Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives' executive director, said “the NYPD must protect these children and hold dangerous drivers accountable.” The report calls for more targeted enforcement of traffic laws by the NYPD, as well as speed cameras. The group also says other city agencies, like the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as the New York City Housing Authority, need to further study "what neighborhood built environment factors...may drive these neighborhood-based differences in child crash rates."

Transportation Alternatives acknowledges that the DOT has worked hard to make the streets safer. “We’re pushing the NYPD to step up,” said Jennifer So Godzeno, pedestrian advocacy manager.  But, she says, "the NYPD is completely failing to use these penalties. When you look across time, 60% of these crashes are attributable to drivers breaking laws. But we don’t see the NYPD making enforcement of these laws a priority at all.”

No response yet from the NYPD.





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Transportation Nation

CrashStat Website Maps NYC's Most Dangerous Intersections

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CrashStat map of crashes since 1995

The most dangerous intersection in New York City--for those not in cars--is Park Avenue and East 33rd Street. That's right where a bypass tunnel lets cars back above ground after several blocks of rare traffic signal-free midtown travel.

It's not an easy intersection to cross with the tunnel entrance blocking half of the intersection. There have been 163 crashes injuring pedestrians and cyclists there since 1995. That's almost a dozen each year. The transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has updated their their website to map the most dangerous intersections in the city, in an effort to raise awareness about danger spots, and contributing factors.

The web site plots every crash recorded by the N.Y. State Department of Transportation since 1995 that involved a pedestrian or a bicyclist. Blue dots are pedestrian crashes, red are bicycle crashes, and the black stars--intentionally bold and eye catching-- mark fatalities.

A quick click on the city's most dangerous intersection reveals how many crashes have happened by year, by type of car, age of person hit, contributing factor and more. It also lets you see that crossing the street is getting safer in New York.

Park Ave and 33rd Street, Pedestrian Crashes 1995-2009

Most of the crashes at that ignobly distinguished intersection occurred before 2003.

The most fatal intersection, is Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, with six deaths and 141 crashes since 1995. Other dangerous intersections are Webster Avenue and East Fordham Road in the Bronx with 123 crashes; and Union Street and Northern Boulevard in Queens which had 92 crashes from 1995-2009

The data for the mapping project only takes us up to 2009, and for some intersection not even that. But a trend is clear, and consistent with City data, that traffic calming measures and shared streets design upgrades over the past five years have reduced pedestrian injuries.

The NYPD was ordered by a court to begin releasing crash data each month starting in June. That data was supposed to be by intersection along with traffic summons data, which they are releasing.

On this map, you can see crash statistics by neighborhood, community board, City Council district, NYPD precinct and many more geographic and political boundaries. You can also filter the crashes  by contributing factors like age of pedestrian, or type of vehicle, of if speeding was involved.

Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steeley White says, "By
revealing where and why motor vehicle crashes occur, CrashStat gives all New Yorkers the information they need to demand better enforcement of our traffic laws." He says, that speeding and failing to yield are the top most dangerous traffic behaviors of motorists, so that's where he'd like to see enforcement focused.

According to citation data released, police issue more tickets for tinted windows and cell phones than for speeding. Speeding however, requires additional equipment such as radars to enforce. That, and for many parts of the city, there's just too much traffic to speed.



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Transportation Nation

[UPDATED] NYC Traffic Data Released: Cell Phones, Seat Belts Top Violation List

Friday, June 24, 2011

(Photo: (cc) Flickr user Global Jet)

[Updated with comments from NYPD]

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The NYPD issued more tickets for tinted windows violations than speeding so far this year. That's one little tidbit to come out of a new data dump that has road safety advocates excited. New York City traffic data is coming online, allowing anyone to evaluate which streets are the safest, and even which police precincts are the most active in traffic enforcement.

The NYPD has released some--but not all-- of the data required under New York City's Saving Lives Through Better Information Bill (human readable background here). You can now see how many tickets each police precinct has issued for 36 different categories of moving violations. The law requires the NYPD to have three kinds of data available online. Moving violations figures by category and precinct have been posted. Crashes by location and data on injuries and fatalities have yet to be released. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Transportation Nation, "As soon as department computer personnel work out the technical requirements for accurately accumulating  motor vehicle accidents, the data will be posted."

The NYPD has issued 530,826 moving violations in the first five months of 2011. According to a WNYC analysis of the first data released, not wearing a seat belt is the top offense (if you include not using a car seat for children), eeking out cell phone use, each with a bit over 81,000 tickets. Combined, those two offenses are about 30 percent of all summonses issued in the five boroughs in 2011. Browne says those violations top the list because they are easier to enforce. "Seat belts and cell phone violations are commonly observed and they do not require special equipment like radar guns, to document or the specialized training that Highway Patrol has in stopping and often pursuing speeders." He added. "Also, illegal  cell phone use, because of its link to accidents and fatalities,  has been the subject of special quarterly enforcement efforts which tend to boost the numbers significantly."

Safer streets advocates like Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives is excited to see this law take effect. "This will show where there are the most crashes and the most common factors that contribute to them. Then, that can be compared to summonsing data and help the NYPD target their limited resources on the most dangerous locations and behaviors."

For example, Transportation Alternatives and the NYPD paired up on Wednesday to target a dangerous intersection in Williamsburg with an education campaign. Signs were made to remind cars they must yield to pedestrians and bikes, seen here. "We partnered with the local precinct to advance our shared goal of safety," said Budnick. "Now that the Saving Lives through Better Information Act is in effect, this event a great template for anyone to work with their local precinct to reduce crashes."

This kind of data has been closely guarded by the NYPD in the past. The department has turned over some similar data to Transportation Nation in the past, including bus lane enforcement, but have also frequently declined to provide data on other occasions, including bike ticketing.

Under the new law, the NYPD will issue a monthly report with this data. We'll keep an eye on it, especially after the crash data is posted, and see what we can learn about street safety and moving violations. Stay tuned.

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