The Community Corner: Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety

Information on Current Community Issues
Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety

As many of you are aware, we have had three pedestrian fatalities which occurred on Broadway, 96th Street and West End Ave. Wide, car-centric streets are the most dangerous to walk in New York City and Broadway has been deemed the most dangerous road according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s study of the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities from 2010 through 2012.

Based on NYPD preliminary figures, 168 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were killed by city motorists in 2013 and 16,059 pedestrians and cyclists were injured. In the 24th Precinct, 15 pedestrians and 2 cyclists were injured in 2013. While our seniors make up 12% of the population in New York City, they account for 39% of the pedestrian fatalities. The causes of these accidents include, in order of occurrence: speeding, driver inattention or distraction, failure to yield right-of-way, alcohol/drug use, and improper lane changes or backing up.

On January 30, 2014, DOT presented a proposal for safety improvements at the intersection of Broadway and W. 96th St at a special meeting of Community Board 7. The proposal will reduce conflicts between pedestrians and motor vehicles at the busy intersection while increasing pedestrian crossing options and reducing wait time. On February 4, 2014, Community Board 7 passed a resolution incorporating the DOT’s proposals which include:

  • Change the timing of the lights at Broadway & 96th Street so vehicles just making the light at Broadway will be unable to continue all the way across Broadway.
  • Change the timing of the lights on 97th  Street, Amsterdam Avenue to Riverside Drive, so that vehicles cannot make all lights without stopping.
  • Change the timing of the lights at 96th  and West End Avenue, so that vehicles turning left (south) from 97th Street onto West End Avenue cannot make the light at 96th  Street and West End Avenue (towards the HHP.)
  • Change the timing of the lights on West End Avenue, for streets between 106th  and 96th so that vehicles cannot make all lights without stopping.

For more information on the resolution, visit the CB7 website at:


There are many initiatives underway to address the problem of pedestrian and cyclist safety. We are human and despite our best intentions, we make mistakes. The purpose of these initiatives is to mitigate the “human factor” so that our streets are set up to be safe despite human error.
Mayor de Blasio has proposed the Vision Zero Action Plan, which is the Swedish approach to road safety and is summarized in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Mayor’s Plan defines the initial steps that the City Police (NYPD) and Transportation Departments (DOT), Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and other agencies will take. These initiatives will be continually analyzed for their effectiveness.

The New York Police Department plans to increase enforcement against dangerous moving violations, including speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, signal violations, improper turns/disobeying signage, and phoning/texting while driving. The recognition of the disproportional representation of the senior population among severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities led to the development of the Department’s Safe Streets for Seniors  (SSS) program. More information may be found at

The TLC will create a safety enforcement squad, to enforce speed and safety regulations and pilot a program to place black box data recorders in TLC-licensed vehicles.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will conduct public health surveillance on traffic-related hospitalizations and injuries. The analysis of this data will assist in determining the direction of future initiatives.

In the meantime, here are some guidelines from the Department of Transportation:


  • Cross at intersections and marked crosswalks.
  • Use sidewalks; if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic so you see vehicles and drivers see you.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather by wearing light-colored or reflective clothing.
  • Watch for vehicles backing out of parking spaces and exiting driveways.
  • Make eye contact with drivers so they see you.
  • Look left, look right, and then look left again before crossing a street.
  • Do not text or be distracted while crossing intersections



  • Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so.
  • Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.
  • Look, signal and look again before changing lanes or making a turn. Make sure drivers see you before executing a turn or riding in front of a turning car.
  • Watch out for car doors. Be prepared for the possibility that a car door may be opened in your path. When possible, leave room between yourself and parked cars (3 feet is generally recommended) so that you can avoid a door that opens unexpectedly.
  • Stay visible. Wear brightly colored clothing for daytime riding. At night, use reflective materials and lights.
  • Use your bell. Your bell alerts drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists to your presence; it is required by law.
  • Don’t wear earphones. By law you may wear one ear bud, but keeping your ears clear is a much safer choice.
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets are required by law for children age 13 or younger and working cyclists.
  • Helmets are a good idea for cyclists of all ages.

The implementation of these city-wide initiatives as well as educated pedestrians and cyclists will ensure safe and enjoyable travel on our city streets.

Mary Koval

Community Corner Archive

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