Analysis Identifies Region’s Most Dangerous Roads for Walking

PRESS RELEASE FROM TRI-STATE TRANSPORTATION CAMPAIGN

A new analysis from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit policy watchdog organization, finds that in the three years from 2010 to 2012, 683 pedestrians were killed on roads in the twelve downstate New York counties. Overall, 1,236 pedestrians were killed in the tri-state region during the time period, a slight decrease of six fatalities (1,242) noted in last year’s analysis.

Using federal data, the analysis finds that Suffolk County’s Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike) is not only the most dangerous road for pedestrians in downstate New York, but also the most deadly road in the tri-state region. Sixteen pedestrian fatalities occurred on this Suffolk County arterial road, with half of these fatalities occurring within the 11.5 mile stretch from Centereach to Ridge.

Jericho Turnpike displaces Hempstead Turnpike, which held the unfortunate infamy as the region’s most dangerous road since the Campaign began its analysis in 2008.

In 2012, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) began improvements along six miles of Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike) in Nassau County. The project includes new right and/or left turn lanes, improved turning radii at street corners, pavement markings, raised center medians, sidewalks, crosswalks and aesthetic landscaping.

“We applaud NYSDOT’s work on Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County. Now it’s time to focus improvements along this deadly corridor in Suffolk County. We don’t want Route 25 to top next year’s list again,” says Veronica Vanterpool, the Campaign’s executive director.

Since the Campaign’s first analysis in 2008, Suffolk County’s Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike) has consistently been one of the region’s most dangerous for walking, but this is the first year it has topped the list.

Nassau County’s Route 24 (Hempstead Turnpike), with 12 deaths, is the second most dangerous road for walking in downstate New York. With nine deaths apiece, Manhattan’s Broadway, Suffolk County’s Route 110 (Broadhollow Road) and Suffolk County’s Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) tie for third.

The Campaign found that arterial roadways – multi-lane roads that often have speed limits of 40 mph or more and little pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure — are the region’s most deadly for pedestrians. While about 15 percent of the total lane miles in the three states are classified as arterials, nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on this type of road. In downstate New York, almost 50 percent of pedestrian deaths occur on roads classified as arterials.

“These findings make it clear once again that we need to redesign our most dangerous arterial corridors,” says Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “We can save lives by building complete streets with protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands. New York City’s Vision Zero effort must also include more consistent traffic enforcement, more thorough crash investigations, and home rule, so we can lower speed limits and increase the use of speed cameras.”

The analysis found downstate New York roads with five or more pedestrian fatalities over the three-year period were:

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 1.25.11 PM

 

“Pedestrian fatalities are tragic but they can be prevented,” the Campaign’s Staff Analyst, Renata Silberblatt, pointed out. “Complete Streets policies have to move from passage to implementation of more life saving traffic calming projects on roads throughout New York,” she added.

Some progress is underway in select communities throughout the state. The analysis highlights a pedestrian project planned for the Town of Wallkill, New York, one of the municipalities recently selected in a state grant program that helps fund bicycle and pedestrian projects. Wallkill will receive a $1.13 million grant to extend sidewalks and add landscaping to a portion of Route 211 that is lacking both.

“We are pleased that Governor Cuomo has committed $67 million to projects that ensure roads are designed for all users in communities across the state,” said Nadine Lemmon, the Campaign’s Albany legislative advocate. “However, these life-saving projects are still not being adequately funded by the state. New York State has the highest fatality rate in the nation for pedestrians and bicyclists at 27 percent. In the downstate region, that statistic jumps to 50 percent. Yet only two percent of our transportation dollars is spent on better infrastructure for these vulnerable users.”

The Campaign urges New York’s elected officials and agency leaders to:

  • Create a Long Island Safe Routes to Transit program that would target areas around transit stations for pedestrian safety improvements.
  • Increase funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects in the New York State Department of Transportation’s Capital Program and in the Governor’s budget.
  • Amend NYSDOT’s “Preservation First” policy to include new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and amend the State’s complete streets law to include maintenance and repair projects.
  • Grant local leaders home rule power to change the speed limits on roads, as local conditions warrant.
  • Adopt a complete streets policy for the metropolitan planning region of New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
  • Standardize the reporting of fatalities resulting from traffic crashes across municipal, state and federal agencies.

“This report serves as another exclamation point reminding Long Island public officials that our roadways continue to be dangerous for pedestrians,” said Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island. “The recommendations contained herein will serve to reverse what has become a descending spiral of poor safety measures in the design of our regions streets. Vision Long Island and other organizations will be asking our public officials to address these findings at our second annual Complete Streets Summit on Thursday April 3,” he added.

The analysis relies upon the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to determine which roads within each county had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities from 2010 to 2012. The analysis excludes interstates and other roads where pedestrians are prohibited, and omits those fatalities that occurred on portions of roads where pedestrians are not allowed.

County factsheets showing the most dangerous roads for walking are available at the link below, along with interactive maps showing the locations of each fatality and descriptive details for each victim.

Factsheets and maps can be found at http://tstc.org/reports/danger14/index.php

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.tstc.org