NYC Pedestrian Deaths Fall in 2017, But Remain a Problem

Year after year, New York City remains the most walkable city in the nation, according to Walk Score. The personal and regional benefits of a pedestrian-accessible city are continually tempered, however, with a tradition of triple digit pedestrian deaths each year. One major thoroughfare has contributed significantly to the number of deaths in the past but city officials have shown that with enough effort, street improvements can save many lives.

Queens Boulevard is no longer the “Boulevard of Death”

It took years of planning and millions of dollars but Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero is finally starting to pay off. The initiative seeks to eliminate all traffic deaths across the city. In recent years, the campaign focused on the section of Queens Boulevard that had been dubbed the Boulevard of Death for its seemingly endless string of fatalities.

The infamous portion of Queens Boulevard spans 300 feet wide – ten times wider than a typical side street and more than four times as wide as Manhattan’s First Avenue. The city invested $4 million to make major changes including reducing the number of lanes from 12 to 10, including lanes for buses, parking, and side street access. The city also increased the amount of time that pedestrians have to cross the road, reduced the speed limit, added speed cameras, and installed bike lanes. Future plans include adding wide tree-lined medians down the boulevard.

NYC’s effort has paid off; the Boulevard of Death has not has a pedestrian or cyclist killed since 2014. The effort is a sign of the progress that can take place when pedestrian safety is made a priority.

NYC pedestrian deaths still a problem

While the improvement to Queens Boulevard is encouraging, there is still plenty of work to do across the rest of New York City. Despite the efforts of Vision Zero, city-wide pedestrian deaths increased from 2015 to 2016, from 139 to 148, though they hit an all-time low in 2017 with a 32% drop to 101 deaths.

Critics of the Vision Zero initiative cite the rampant problem of distracted driving and driver inattentiveness. Every month, NYPD hands out thousands of tickets to drivers for failure to yield, illegal cellphone use, and texting while driving. In some instances, courts and juries have recognized liability on the part of both the driver and the city when a pedestrian is injured.

For example, the New York State Court of Appeals has held that the the city could be found partly liable for injuries to a bike rider when the city failed to properly study the street’s traffic safety measures.

Proceeding after a NYC pedestrian accident

If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian or cyclist in New York City, you may have questions about your rights. We are here to help.

Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a KGG NYC car accident lawyer. We have decades of experience helping those injured by someone else’s negligence receive full and fair compensation. Appointments are available in our Rockland County, New York, or Bergen County, New Jersey offices.

Additional “NYC Pedestrian Deaths” Resources:  

  1. Redfin, These Are the 10 Most Walkable Cities of 2017, https://www.redfin.com/blog/2017/05/these-are-the-10-most-walkable-cities-of-2017.html
  2. NYC, Vision Zero, http://www1.nyc.gov/site/visionzero/index.page
  3. The New York Times, No Longer New York City’s ‘Boulevard of Death’, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/03/nyregion/queens-boulevard-of-death.html?_r=0