Vision Zero for Back-To-School

SchoolAs a new school year begins, it is a fitting time to reflect on whether we are doing all we can to provide children with safe routes to school, and how we can stem the ongoing epidemic of children injured or killed on city streets.

At many NYC schools, arrival and dismissal times seem chaotic during the first couple of weeks of the school year.  Sidewalks overflow as parents accompany their children in greater numbers, and stay longer to make sure kids get safely inside.  And the streets are busy, too, as the full workforce returns from vacation season back to daily commuting.  Even the pedestrians are in a hurry: many families are not yet settled into new morning routines, and are scrambling to be on time for school and work.  It’s a crowded mix of stress, excitement, and distraction, producing a very dangerous environment on neighborhood streets.  We need better plans to keep our “kidmuters” safe.

Everybody has a role to play in making this safer.

Parents, regardless of whether you and your children travel to and from school by foot, car, or bike, leaving the house just 10 minutes earlier than deadlines dictate can reduce stress, rushing, multi-tasking, and recklessness, thereby increasing awareness of the environment, good judgment, erring on the side of caution, and relaxed road and street interactions. That in turn can reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Additionally, that 10 minute cushion can model for children that, despite appearances to the contrary in our busy culture, one need not rush and be harried. Courtesy and personal responsibility can pave your way to and from school and work. What better over-arching educational message could we transmit to our children as we send them off to their studies each morning and welcome them back each afternoon? Continue reading

Tracking Progress: July 2014

Tracker-2014-07
Here’s our monthly summary of Vision Zero progress in Queens.  Highlights:
  • Progress toward reducing pedestrian and cyclist injuries is difficult to measure in most precincts.  Six precincts (102, 104, 107, 110, 111, and 115) appear to have made real progress, but boroughwide ped/cyclist injuries have only fallen 3.2% relative to the average from the past two years.
  • Injuries among motorists and passengers has also been mixed precinct to precinct with the greatest improvement seen in six precincts (100, 104, 105, 107, 110, and 115).  Boroughwide, vehicle occupant injuries have fallen 7.5% relative to the previous two years.
  • Tickets issued for Speeding and Failure to Yield for Pedestrians continue to be issued at a significantly higher pace than in previous years in nearly every precinct in Queens.
  • However, many precincts in Queens have not significantly increased their enforcement against red light running (“Failure to Stop at Signal”).  In only eight precincts (102, 103, 104, 107, 110, 111, 112, and 114), are year-to-date enforcement levels in 2014 significantly above their 2013 levels.
  • And enforcement against illegal cell phone use while driving has fallen off the charts.  Only in the 103rd precinct re enforcement levels higher than they were in both 2012 and 2013.
  • Queens leads the city as a whole in terms of increasing enforcement against speeding.   It lags the city as a whole in terms of reducing traffic injuries, enforcing failure to stop at signals, failure to yield to pedestrians, and driving while using cell phones.
We continue to recommend against drawing strong connections about changes in injury rates. Vision Zero is about changing the culture.  Enforcement, education, and engineering changes will take time to translate into safer behavior.  Also, the precincts are starting at different baseline levels of enforcement and injury rates, and they’re doing a lot of hard work on driver education that doesn’t translate directly into tickets issued. We’re tracking progress, but believe we should allow more time before we start drawing conclusions.

Continue reading

Tracking Progress: June 2014

Tracker-2014-06

Our monthly summary of Vision Zero progress in Queens appears above.  Some noteworthy observations:

  • June saw a slight slowdown in the pace of pedestrian safety enforcement actions in Queens, relative to May’s more intensive focused enforcement efforts in many precincts.   Failure to Yield to Pedestrians saw a particularly sharp dropoff in enforcement.
  • Year-to-date, enforcement actions for red light running continue to be up slightly since last year, and enforcement actions for speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians continue to be up significantly.
  • Queens is leading the city as a whole in terms of reducing pedestrian/cyclist injuries and fatalities.   It is also leading the city as a whole in terms of increasing enforcement against speeding.   Queens is lagging the city in terms of reducing vehicle occupant injuries and fatalities, and in enforcing failure to stop at signals, failure to yield to pedestrians, and driving while using cell phones.

As before, we don’t recommend drawing strong connections at this stage about changes in injury rates. Vision Zero is about changing the culture, and enforcement, education, and engineering changes will take time to translate into safer behavior. Also, the precincts are doing a lot of hard work on driver education that doesn’t translate directly into tickets issued. We’re tracking progress, but believe we should allow more time before we start drawing conclusions.

More details are available on our Statistics page.

Keeping in mind that the precincts are all starting from different baselines, here are the precincts that are leading the way, relative to their averages for 2012 and 2013:

Leading-2014-06

Corona/Jackson Heights Vision Zero Workshop

Please join Make Queens Safer and Transportation Alternatives for a community workshop about safer streets in Corona & Jackson Heights.  Bring your ideas for how we can make our neighborhood streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists & drivers.   The event will be held at the Corona Library, 38-23 104th Street, on July 16th at 7 pm.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP for the event at the Transportation Alternatives website.

CoronaWorkshop

Tracking Progress: May 2014

Tracker-May2014

Our monthly summary of Vision Zero progress in Queens appears above. Through the end of May:

  • Pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities continue to be down slightly from 2013, and are running at close to 2012 levels.
  • Vehicle occupant injuries and fatalities are running at about 2013 levels.
  • Boroughwide, enforcement actions for red light running are up slightly since last year, and enforcement actions for speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians are up significantly.

Most precincts have significant increased their enforcement efforts, although it is important to note that they’re all starting from different baselines.   Here are the precincts that are leading the way, relative to their averages for 2012 and 2013:

Leading-May2014

Detailed results by precinct are available on our Statistics page.

Update: Welcome Streetsblog readers!  One additional note… we don’t recommend drawing strong connections at this stage about changes in injury rates.  Vision Zero is about changing the culture, and enforcement, education, and engineering changes will take time to translate into safer behavior.   Also, the precincts are doing a lot of hard work on driver education that doesn’t translate directly into tickets issued.   We’re tracking progress, but believe we should allow more time before we start drawing conclusions.   Thanks!

New NYC Crash Data Feed Doesn’t Quite Add Up

The city’s new motor vehicle collision data feed is an important step forward for the analysis of crash locations and pedestrian injury and fatality patterns.  But in important ways, it just doesn’t add up in its current form.

A significant share of the records in the database are neither geocoded, nor tagged with geographic identifiers needed to draw meaningful conclusions about trends.   As a result, the collision data available in NYC Open Data consistently underreports the injury and fatality totals recorded in the Motor Vehicle Collision Reports on the NYPD website.

For example, the geocoded portion of the data feed undercounts 2013 motorist and passenger injuries and fatalities in Queens by 36%, cyclist injuries and fatalities by 13% and pedestrian injuries and fatalities by 17%.  The problem is not getting better over time: over the first four months of 2014, the geocoded and tagged data undercounts injured or killed motor vehicle occupants by 38% in Queens, injured or killed cyclists by 13%, and injured or killed pedestrians by 18%.   Any use of these data in research or analysis that tracks trends over time in specific geographic areas will be inherently flawed.   (Details of this analysis are in the attached file.)

Given the NYPD’s limited resources, we understand that it may not be practical to geocode every last accident record.  And many records that are not geocoded still do contain information on cross streets, a resource that could help enrich analysis of injury and fatality hot spots.   But for trend analysis, there should be no need for the public to guess in which precincts the crashes occurred, since this information is already known and reported by the NYPD.  We recommend that the Open Data feed be amended so that every record includes the precinct and borough where the crash report was filed.

Make Queens Safer thanks Sarah Jane Ellmore for her assistance preparing this article.

Tracking Progress: April 2014

Tracker-April
Our monthly summary of Vision Zero progress in Queens appears above.  Through the end of April:

  • Pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities continue to be down slightly from 2013, and are running at close to 2012 levels.
  • Vehicle occupant injuries and fatalities are running at about 2013 levels.
  • Enforcement actions for red light running and speeding are up slightly since last year, and enforcement actions for failure to yield to pedestrians are up significantly.

Detailed results by precinct are available on our Statistics page.

Vision Zero Workshops

VZ-Workshop

Hosted by the Department of Transportation
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 6:30-8:00 pm
Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens

Thursday, May 29, 2014 6:30-8:00 pm
Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, Queens

Click here for fliers in English and Spanish.

From the city’s announcement: “Come to this interactive workshop to learn more about Vision Zero and tell us about conditions in the neighborhoods you live in, work and visit. Give specific suggestions or concerns, participate in mapping activities to pinpoint issues, and join in small discussion groups moderated by DOT and NYPD staff. Your input will aid in identifying street safety projects.”

So far in 2014, according to the latest data from NYPD, more than 777 pedestrians, 145 cyclists, and 2261 motor vehicle occupants have been injured in motor vehicle crashes on the streets of Queens, and fourteen pedestrians, one cyclist, and five motorists have been killed.  Seniors and children are especially vulnerable, but the victims of these crashes cut across all divides of age, class, ethnicity, and geography.

These deaths and debilitating injuries suffered by our neighbors were not inevitable.  We know from experience in New York City and around the world that better street designs, meaningful traffic enforcement, and effective education for both drivers and pedestrians can sharply reduce the tremendous harm that motor vehicle crashes cause to our communities every day.  Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive “Vision Zero” street safety initiative blends all three approaches – engineering, education, and enforcement – with a goal of reducing traffic fatalities in NYC to zero in ten years.

At the start of this process, the City Council, the NYPD, the Department of Transportation, and other agencies are sponsoring workshops throughout the city to collect public input on pedestrian and traffic safety hazards and possible solutions.  Two are scheduled for Queens: one on Wednesday May 21 in Astoria and another on Thursday May 29 in Jamaica.  The results of these workshops will help the city begin to establish its street improvement priorities for years to come.  Facilitated discussion groups will be available in English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

March 2014 Update: Are we making progress?

QueensMarch14This morning, NYPD released pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist injury data for March.  An analysis of these and other NYPD data by Make Queens Safer tracks efforts to improve pedestrian safety across the borough.  It includes six indicators, each of which are being tracked on a monthly basis against totals in 2012 and 2013.  Two indicators track whether we are bending the curve downward on traffic injuries:

  • Pedestrian/Cyclist Injuries and Fatalities
  • Vehicle Occupant Injuries and Fatalities

Four indicators track whether we are increasing enforcement of traffic laws:

  • Tickets for Failure to Stop at Light
  • Tickets for Speeding
  • Tickets for Failure to Yield to Pedestrians
  • Tickets for Cell Phone Use

Full results by precinct are available on our Statistics page.  We’ll be tracking this on a monthly basis.   It’s too early to draw strong conclusions from the results, but we can make some quick observations:

In general, there have been fewer injuries so far this year than last year.

  • NYPD’s stepped up enforcement of Failure to Yield to Pedestrians can be seen in many precincts starting in October 2013.
  • Tickets issued to drivers for Cell Phone Use has been falling – but this probably represents increasing driver compliance with this relatively new law.
  • It’s important to keep in mind that many precincts have been emphasizing driver education at this stage – talking with drivers about behaviors that put pedestrians at risk, rather than ticketing them.   We anticipate that the enforcement actions will begin to accelerate later in the spring.