According to Transportation Alternatives, a New Yorker is killed in a traffic accident every 35 hours. About half of these are pedestrians. Many of the solutions, including those proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as part of Vision Zero, a Swedish model designed to reduce traffic fatalities, emphasize drivers and motor vehicles. Ideas mentioned by the de Blasio team included narrowing streets, widening sidewalks, creating slow zones and enforcing traffic laws. Count me in. I would also like to see more bike lanes, expansion of Citi Bikes, public plazas and congestion pricing.
But what is often not talked about is the role that pedestrians play in New York’s car-cyclist-pedestrian dynamic. I cannot help but think that much of the traffic accident data would implicate pedestrians as well as drivers. New Yorkers are famous for their complete disregard for pedestrian traffic signals. Jaywalking and other reckless pedestrian crossings are commonplace. Thousands of people perpetually meander through the cities intersections, texting, Tweeting and Facebooking, barely noticing the oncoming traffic. It is not unusual to see people weaving and rushing their way through traffic across Broadway, barely avoiding the onslaught of yellow cabs.Read More