Saturday, April 20, 2013

Remarkable Pedestrian Safety Report from New York

The New York Times lede gives one of the remarkable findings from a recent study: “Pedestrians struck by cars are most often hit while in the crosswalk, with the signal on their side.”
The Times story (here) is based on a report from the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery (abstract here, article behind paywall).
A pedestrian safety article in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery?  That’s actually one of the more remarkable aspects of this story.  Typically we only get accident statistics from police reports.  Research using hospital emergency room reports sheds different light on the subject and suggests new avenues for future research. 
Another nugget from the research: 6% of recorded pedestrians injuries occurred on sidewalks!
Anyone who has walked – or even worse, driven – in midtown Manhattan will know that the chaotic swirl of people and vehicles there is unlike anything you are likely to encounter elsewhere in the country. 
But a couple of takeaways that I think many people would find useful:
First, as suggested above, it would be good to find some alternative research strategies to figure out how to get better results for bike and ped safety.
Second, one of the doctors on the study talked about the importance of changing the behavior of walkers, riders, and drivers.  This goes to one of my favorite themes: the best avenue to a safer transportation environment may not be traffic engineering, it may be culture change.  More about that another time.
And congrats to NYCDOT for continuing improvement in facilities, condition, and safety for walkers and riders!

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