AARP
New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
Reconnect Rochester
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Vision Long Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: Ya-Ting Liu, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
P: 212-268-7474 / yating@tstc.org


National Report Shows 1 in 5 Traffic Deaths in New York Are Pedestrians
Advocates Call for a Statewide Complete Streets Law

A new national report by Transportation for America examines the alarming number of New Yorkers killed while walking over a ten year period from 2000-2009. Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods) finds that one of the biggest contributors to pedestrian fatalities is the way streets are designed. An overwhelming proportion of these pedestrian deaths occurred along “arterial” roads, multilane roads through populated areas designed for speeding cars with little or no consideration for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. These deaths, from the simple act of walking, are preventable with safer street design that incorporate traffic calming, road diets, complete streets policies and Safe Routes to School programs.

Among key findings of the report include:

Advocates said these deaths are preventable if the state changes transportation policies and funding practices. According to the report, state DOTs nationwide have largely failed to prioritize pedestrian safety investments, allocating only 1.5% of available federal funds to projects that retrofit dangerous roads or create safe alternatives. NYSDOT does not have information on how much it spends on pedestrian safety projects each year. Advocates are calling for greater public transparency and accountability of how the state’s department of transportation keeps tracks of funding.

“Too many New Yorkers are killed in the simple act of walking. In order to prevent these avoidable deaths, we need New York State DOT to support complete streets that are safe for all users,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We look forward to working with Commissioner McDonald to make roads safer for all New Yorkers, whether they are driving, walking, bicycling or taking transit.”

The advocates called on Governor Cuomo, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, and State Legislators to:

“These statistics are no less than startling for older New Yorkers who fall victim to pedestrian fatalities in disproportionate numbers,” said Lois Wagh Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. "Baby boomers begin turning 65 this year, placing us at the start of an unprecedented growth in our aging population. There is no better time to adopt Complete Streets legislation to ensure that roadways are designed so that all users can walk their streets safely.”

“It pains me to see Rochester and our surrounding counties rank so poorly on this list. While I've seen our metro take great steps towards traffic calming and complete streets recently, our suburbs and rural areas are far behind the curve. These are not just numbers; these are human lives. Lives that could have been saved with some thoughtful planning. It's up to all of us to step up our efforts to push for changes at every level of government and with each new road project,” said Mike Governale, Executive Director of Reconnect Rochester.

“This report comes at a time where Long Island possesses some of the most dangerous roads in New York State. Design solutions can be employed to reverse these trends and make our streets safer for all users,” said Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island.

"It's high time Washington stepped up and put real funding toward traffic safety. Over 70,000 New Yorkers are injured by cars every year and hundreds more are killed. It's time to put pedestrians first and bring those numbers down to zero,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

"Fixing New York's transportation system is not only important for jobs and the environment -- this sobering report shows it is also critical for saving lives," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.  "New York and America need smart, long-term transportation solutions immediately, before this situation gets any worse. Congress must redouble its efforts to pass a transportation bill that will lay the foundation for a stronger, safer America." 

The full report is available here.

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