A new visualization, based on NYPD numbers, shows just how hazardous the city is for pedestrians.

You don’t need fancy data visualizations to know that walking on the streets of New York can be a scary experience. True, the city is by many measures the nation’s best walking town, with fewer car owners by far than any other American city. Nonetheless, a lot of drivers in New York seem to think that might makes right—intimidating their way through crosswalks, blowing through stop signs, and blasting down major boulevards at top speed.

Opaque reporting methods used to make it hard to get a handle on just how bad the streets are. But New York’s open-data law went into effect in 2013, putting a wealth of municipal information online in a format easily accessible to developers. Now, it’s possible to map just how hazardous the city’s streets are for pedestrians using the NYPD’s numbers.

It is grimly appropriate that just such a map has been commissioned by a personal-injury law firm, Hecht Kleeger & Damashek. The map is part of an analysis they bill as The Ultimate Guide to Walking Safely in NYC. While its usefulness in keeping you safe might be debatable, it does reveal some interesting information:

  • Failure to yield the right of way was the cause cited most often for a crash, accounting for 32 percent of injuries and fatalities. Driver inattention or distraction was responsible for another 25 percent.
  • Pedestrian crashes overwhelmingly involved private passenger vehicles and SUVs.
  • Males were more likely to be hit by cars than females, except in the youngest age group.
  • Friday night into Saturday is the most dangerous time for pedestrians, although morning and evening rush hours also show spikes in crashes, especially in the outer boroughs.
  • The good news: since the speed limit on most city streets was lowered a year ago, the early data seem to suggest injuries and fatalities are down. In the first three months of 2015 compared to the first three months of 2014, such crashes went from 232 a month to 185 a month in Manhattan, for instance.

While the analysis offered by this “Ultimate Guide” may not be the most nuanced or detailed, it does show some interesting trends that are worth following. And as more people start playing with the open data that is now available, this information can be used to shore up support for sometimes contentious policy initiatives, such as the lowered speed limit or penalties for drivers who injure pedestrians with the right of way. The people who really need to be reading this “ultimate guide to walking safely” are really the ones behind the wheel.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a small fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolts cars.
    Transportation

    Should Electric Vehicle Drivers Pay Per Mile?

    Since EV drivers zip past gas taxes, they don’t contribute to the federal fund for road maintenance. A new working paper tries to determine whether plug-ins should pay up.

  2. a photo of Los Angeles in 1962
    Transportation

    Mapping the Effects of the Great 1960s ‘Freeway Revolts’

    Urbanites who battled the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s saved some neighborhoods—but many highways did transform cities.

  3. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  4. A man and a woman shop at a modern kiosk by a beach in a vintage photo.
    Design

    Why Everyday Architecture Deserves Respect

    The places where we enact our daily lives are not grand design statements, yet they have an underrated charm and even nobility.

  5. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.

×