New York City has attempted to make roads safer for walkers and bicyclists in recent years, with some promising results. In the past 30 years, every borough has seen a reduction in pedestrian deaths - with the exception of Staten Island. The fatality rate in Staten Island, per capita, has remained relatively steady for decades.
And in 2015, pedestrian deaths more than doubled from 2014.
The increase is unfortunate, as the city's "Vision Zero" initiatives, first implemented in 2014 by the DOT and NYPD, seek to reduce the number of traffic and pedestrian fatalities throughout the city. The reduction in deaths in 2014 could have been a hopeful sign that pedestrian safety was improving. Prior to 2014, Staten Island averaged approximately 18 pedestrian deaths per year. In 2015, there have been more than 20. In 2014, Staten Island only had 11 pedestrian deaths. It seems as though pedestrians are as at risk as ever when out walking and bicycling on Staten Island.
More cars, more negligent driving
Drivers in private cars acting negligently or recklessly are the most common cause of pedestrian fatalities. While drivers in Staten Island are not more negligent than other drivers, more people own cars on Staten Island than elsewhere in NYC. The majority of Staten Islanders drive to work, unlike in most boroughs.
The number of drivers on Staten Island is one reason it has been difficult to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths. While improved pedestrian paths and safety campaigns can help cut down on pedestrian injuries and fatalities, one negligent or reckless driver can cause devastating injuries for even careful pedestrians obeying traffic laws.
Is Hylan Boulevard the deadliest road in NYC?
In addition, particular bus stops and crosswalks pose dangers for pedestrians on Staten Island. The majority of fatal pedestrian accidents in 2015 occurred on Hylan Boulevard. Per capita, a pedestrian on Hylan Boulevard is approximately four times more likely to become injured than while on Queens Boulevard, which NYC recently highlighted as the "Boulevard of Death" in NYC.
What can be done to make Staten Island safer?
Pedestrians can certainly do their part to reduce their risk. Pedestrians can avoid distracted walking and obey traffic laws while on or near roadways.
Still, it is difficult to reduce risk when a speeding, distracted or drunk driver puts pedestrians at risk. In the aftermath of an accident, the injured victim and his or her family do have legal options to hold the driver accountable. As for prevention, it is our sincere hope that 2015 proves to be an exception to the safety risk of pedestrians moving forward.