New York State is getting its first comprehensive pedestrian safety plan. The $110 million initiative will target communities outside of New York City over the next five years for engineering improvements, education efforts and an enforcement campaign.
“Supporting these education programs and enforcement efforts will set a new safety standard for pedestrians and motorists and help make this state’s roadways safer for all,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said at his announcement of the program Monday.
In 2015, there were 3,672 pedestrian crashes in Upstate New York and Long Island, according to the New York State Department of Transportation. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 631 fatal pedestrian crashes.
Pedestrian error or confusion only contributed to 37 percent of fatal and injury crashes, and over half of fatal and injury crashes occurred at an intersection.
New York DOT engineers are considering a number of low-cost interventions to boost safety at intersections, including retiming traffic signals, improving crosswalk visibility, restricting parking near intersections and adding more pedestrian refuge islands and curb extensions.
The state is also considering banning right turns on red at some intersections or putting up signs reminding drivers that they are required to yield to pedestrians when taking a right turn on red.
According to The Lansing Star, pedestrian safety site evaluations will begin this year at 2,000 crosswalks without traffic signals and 2,400 intersections with signals. In the second year of the plan, NYSDOT will fund local pedestrian safety initiatives. Projects will be solicited from local communities, and communities with the highest number of crashes from 2009 to 2013 will be given extra attention.
A growing number of U.S. cities are prioritizing safer street design. New York and San Francisco were the earliest adopters of Vision Zero in America. San Diego unveiled its plan last year. And other creative interventions — like bringing back pedestrian scrambles — have been floated in recent months.
New York’s new plan supports the state’s Complete Streets Law and Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan. The state also launched a website for the initiative with more details about which communities will receive assistance.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in the most upper-left corner of the country. She writes about urban policy, equitable development and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) with a focus on solutions-oriented journalism. She is a former associate editor and current contributing editor at Next City.