Sarah Goodyear is a Brooklyn-based contributing writer to CityLab. She's written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog.
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.
Data Source: NYC Open Data / https://data.cityofnewyork.us
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.