New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced new initiatives in the City's unprecedented safety campaign for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists through enhanced enforcement, safety engineering and the launch of a new ads to raise awareness of the city's 30 m.p.h. speed limit and the dangers of excessive speed. NYPD recently received a Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) grant of $150,000 in federal funds for increased enforcement against motorist speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, as well as against cyclists who violate traffic laws. The initiatives build on this summer's release of the landmark NYC Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan and come after the safest year recorded in a century on the city's streets. Officials made the announcement joined by City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca and Councilmember Gale Brewer at 71st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where DOT unveiled new pedestrian countdown signals and plans for a safety redesign at the location.
"The speed limit in New York City is 30 miles per hour, and it's 30 for a reason," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Even 10 miles per hour too fast can mean the difference between life and death. As we make our safe streets even safer for everyone uses them, every New Yorker needs to follow all the rules of the road whether in a car, on foot or on a bike."
"While New York City has an enviable safety record, there's always room for improvement," said Commissioner Kelly. "Through a combination of education, enforcement and common courtesy, we think we can do even better in protecting pedestrians who are put at risk by motorists and bicyclists alike."
DOT's recent Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan found that driver failure to yield was cited in 27 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes while pedestrian-vehicle crashes involving unsafe speeds are twiceas deadly as other crashes. The GTSC grant provides $150,000 for increased NYPD enforcement against these infractions, as well as against bicyclists who disobey traffic laws by biking on the sidewalk, riding against red signals or riding the wrong way down city streets.
DOT's research also shows that two-thirds of New Yorkers are uncertain what the City's standard speed limit is, and nearly 7 in 10 New Yorkers say that speeding is a safety problem in the city. To raise awareness of the speed limit and highlight the danger of excessive speed, DOT has created an advertising campaign of humorous, yet pointed, television ads and radio as well as more hard-hitting public billboards. GTSC is providing in-kind support for the radio ads. The ads drive home the message that the speed limit is 30 for a reason: If a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling 40 m.p.h. or faster, there's a 70% chance that a struck pedestrian will be killed; At 30 m.p.h., there's an 80% chance that the pedestrian will live. The campaign can be viewed at www.nyc.gov/dot or www.youtube.com/nycdot. DOT is also developing a series of public service announcements targeting cyclists ride on the sidewalk, ride against traffic or fail to yield to pedestrians.
"As Chair of GTSC I am pleased to be supporting this important initiative aimed at increasing roadway safety," said Commissioner David J. Swarts of the DMV. "Utilizing education, enforcement and engineering we are making City streets safer for everyone."
"Speeding is public enemy number one for motorists and pedestrians alike," said Councilmember Vacca. "I get calls from citizens constantly who tell me that what they see on the streets every day frightens them, and we as a City have a responsibility to make sure that thousands of motorists understand that when we say ‘stop speeding,' we're talking to them. Believe me, this latest campaign by DOT and NYPD will come as welcome news to communities across the five boroughs."
"I applaud the efforts of the Mayor and the Department of Transportation to address pedestrian safety," said Councilmember Brewer. "No Administration has worked harder to creatively address the concerns of the myriad of stakeholders who use our streets and sidewalks."
"We treat over 600 patients each year who have been struck by automobiles. While many others die at the scene of the accident, those that come to us are often the lucky ones," said Dr. Ronald Simon, Director of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical center. "They were able to get out of the way or were struck by a car traveling at slower speeds so they sustained less severe injuries. The less lucky ones are often struck by vehicles moving at higher speeds. Speeding and inattention can lead to life-altering crashes not just for the person struck, but also their families and even the driver, but they are preventable if drivers and pedestrians take care."
DOT's installation of countdown pedestrian signals at 71st Street and Amsterdam and Broadway is the first in a series of safety makeover elements for this notorious location. DOT is currently working with the community on a proposed redesign to extend curbs, islands and medians, shorten crossing distances and encourage vehicles to make safer turns through the crosswalks. Since August's announcement, pedestrian countdown signals have also been installed at 20 other priority intersections in all five boroughs.
The announcement builds on findings in the New York City Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan, released last month with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Last year saw the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City's recorded history and the Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan affirmed that New York City is the nation's safest big city and is getting safer as DOT moves toward the goal of reducing traffic fatalities by 50 percent by 2030, compared to 2007 statistics. The study examined eight years of data from 2002 through 2009 that showed that serious crashes in the city occurred overwhelmingly along high-traffic corridors, not at specific intersections. The data supports previous studies that have led to the launch of ambitious safety initiatives targeting seniors, schoolchildren and congested corridors citywide.
Some of the key findings in the report include:
- Pedestrian fatalities in 2009 were down nearly 20 percent from 2001.
- In the event of a crash, pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant.
- Pedestrians accounted for 52 percent of traffic fatalities from 2005-2009.
- Driver inattention was cited in 36 percent of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
- Serious pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier on major street corridors than on smaller local streets.
- Male drivers are involved in 80 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians.
- Private vehicles – not taxis, trucks or buses – are involved in 79 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians.
- Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile of street compared to the other four boroughs.
- Pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in other boroughs or outside New York City 43 percent of the time.
In addition to installing countdown pedestrian signals at 1,500 intersections, other major actions detailed in the Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan are:
- A pilot program to test the safety performance of neighborhood 20 m.p.h zones: Neighborhood 20 m.p.h. zones will be implemented to slow traffic on an area-wide, rather than individual street, basis. Projects will be developed in collaboration with local communities and at least one pilot project will be implemented in 2011.
- Re-engineering 60 miles of streets per year for greater pedestrian safety, according to corridor crash data: Using a corridor ranking system, DOT will identify and address safety issues with intensive redesigns on a minimum of 60 miles per year of these streets.
- Re-engineering 20 intersections for pedestrian safety on major Manhattan two-way streets: High-crash, high-volume intersections of the Manhattan avenues with major cross town two-way streets, such as Canal Street, 57th Street and 125th Street, will be examined individually and solutions will be tailored to local conditions.
- Implement pilot program to improve visibility at left turns along avenues in Manhattan: Daylighting – the removal of curbside parking spaces at the approach to an intersection – will be implemented at all left turn approaches on major Manhattan avenues with high rates of left-turn pedestrian crashes. The removal of parking increases pedestrian visibility and reduces turning-vehicle pedestrian crashes. The complete Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan report can be found at www.nyc.gov.