A new study by the transportation safety nonprofit organization Transportation Alternatives found that traffic violence is “a near-universal experience” for people living in New York City. According to the group’s research, 30% of New Yorkers have been injured in a traffic collision, while 70% of New Yorkers know someone who has either been injured or killed in a traffic collision.
Transportation Alternatives’ data shows that someone dies of traffic violence every 36 hours in New York City. The victims of traffic violence include pedestrians, drivers, motorcyclists, and cyclists. Transportation Alternatives attributes much of the risk of traffic-related fatalities to “unsafe streets,” “urban avenues built to encourage speeding,” and “lanes that are unprotected, disconnected, or entirely missing.”
Transportation Alternatives’ information draws from a poll it commissioned, and which was conducted by the Siena College Research Institute. The poll reached 805 registered voters in New York City. Of those 805 people, 60% said they personally know someone who had been killed or injured in traffic violence, and 30% said they themselves were injured in traffic violence. The poll found that “More than a third of low-income New Yorkers surveyed suffered injury,” which Transportation Alternatives notes was “the highest rate among any economic group surveyed.” Of the respondents, 35% of voters who identified as Black reported experiencing traffic violence; meanwhile, 31% of white respondents, 25% of Hispanic/Latino respondents, and 18% of those identifying as “other races” reported such.
The study also found that “the effects of traffic violence are even more pronounced in the boroughs where the City of New York has made the least effort to reduce car-use, facilitate walking and biking, and make streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.” It cites the example of Staten Island, where residents are more dependent on vehicles than in other boroughs, which has “the fewest traffic calming pedestrian plazas” and protected bike lanes, and where 88% of the survey’s respondents know a person injured or killed in traffic violence, and 48% had suffered traffic violence themselves.
Transportation Alternatives finally found that 79% of poll respondents believe traffic violence is “a serious or very serious problem,” but more than 50% either didn’t know at all or knew very little about the mayor’s Vision Zero street safety program. In a statement about the research published in QNS, the group’s executive director Danny Hill said, “City streets must become fairer, healthier, safer, and put people first as we recover from the pandemic. With this latest polling, it’s clear that candidates running with bold plans to reimagine New York City’s streetscape will have public opinion on their side.”
More information on the research is available via Transportation Alternatives.