Regional Plan Association
Transportation Alternatives
Transport Workers Union Local 100
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

November 9, 2009

Contact: Ya-Ting Liu
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
P: 212-268-7474 /

National Report Shows 1 in 5 Traffic Deaths in New York are Pedestrians Yet State Only Spends 1% of Available Federal Transportation Funds on Pedestrian Safety;
Advocates Call for a Statewide Complete Streets Policy

A new national report by Transportation for America and Surface Transportation Policy Partnership ( ) shows that 1 in 5 traffic deaths in New York State are pedestrians. The report finds:

  • 22.5% of total traffic deaths in New York State are pedestrians.
  • 31% of total traffic deaths in the NYC metropolitan area are pedestrians.
  • Only 1% of New York State federal transportation funds are spent on pedestrian infrastructure, an average of $0.73 per person.
  • New York State ranks 44 th in the nation for federal spending on walking and biking.
  • The NYC metropolitan area receives only $0.61 per person in federal funds for pedestrian and bike facilities, well below the meager $1.39 spent per person for metro areas nationwide.

Advocates said these deaths are preventable if the state changes transportation policies and funding practices.

“New York State Department of Transportation must do more to provide safer walking routes for New York residents,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “The agency can reduce these deaths and be a leader in sustainable transportation policy by rewarding municipalities like New York City that are working hard to build bike lanes, bike racks, new bus shelters and pedestrian plazas.”

The advocates called on New York State Department of Transportation, Governor Paterson and the State Legislature to:

  • Pass a statewide complete streets policy that would require engineers design roads to accommodate the needs of all users any time a new road is built or an existing road is retrofitted.
  • Designate 10% of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and 10% of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding for pedestrian safety programs.
  • Increase funding for Safe Routes to School and SafeSeniors programs aimed at reducing traffic injuries and fatalities for schoolchildren, transit riders, and older residents.
  • Create a statewide Safe Routes to Transit program.

From 2005 to 2008, New York has received $5.6 billion in federal transportation funds. In the same amount of time there have been 1,215 preventable pedestrian deaths. While children, older adults and ethnic minorities are disproportionately victims of pedestrian injuries and deaths, people of all ages and walks of life have been injured in the simple act of walking.

Ya-Ting Liu, federal advocate of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and New York field organizer for Transportation for America explained, “The state could double its current spending on pedestrian safety and it would still be spending less per resident than it costs to buy a coffee from Starbucks. But this small investment will save lives and improve quality of life.”

“When it comes to safer streets, money talks,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “We need the New York State Department of Transportation to step up to the plate and start funding life-saving street designs.”

A spokesperson from Transport Workers Union Local 100 said, “With 80% of the U.S. population living in urban centers, funding of our nation’s transportation system needs to step in line with this trend.  As more of us seek alternatives to driving, development of our infrastructure must put greater emphasis not just on dedicated bus lanes but also on new bus shelters and pedestrian plazas.  Smarter urban design will not just decrease congestion but also ensure greater safety on our streets.  As Bus Operators driving on the streets of New York, we know.”

“Safer streets for millions of Americans, whether they are walking, driving or bicycling, is a common sense measure.  We can, and must, do better.” said Bob Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association.