The NYPD is casting blame on pedestrians for recent crashes in the 20th precinct, and indicating that the police department will be focusing its safety efforts on educating pedestrians, according to an account of Monday’s 20th precinct meeting in DNAinfo.
(The 20th precinct stretches from 59th to 86th street, just South of the precinct where three crashes this year have killed pedestrians.)
Meanwhile, 20th precinct officers gave out just nine tickets for failure to give the right of way to a pedestrian and two tickets for speeding in December, according to NYPD statistics. City stats show drivers are more likely than pedestrians to cause serious crashes: a city study of crashes that caused injuries or fatalities found that speeding, driver inattention, and failure to yield were the primary causes.
So far this year, NYPD says that pedestrians have been at fault in most local crashes.
“Four out of the five traffic accidents involving pedestrians that have occurred this year in the 20th Precinct — which spans from West 59th Street to West 86th Street, between Central Park West and the Hudson River — have been caused by pedestrians stepping out into intersections against the light, an officer said.
The four accidents, none of which were fatal, happened between 5:50 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., a busier time of the day when those on foot are often in a rush, said Sgt. Felicia Montgomery, who manages traffic and pedestrian safety at the precinct.”
Captain Michael Falcon says the big problem is people looking at their phones while crossing the street. (It’s not clear if any of the people who were hit this year were looking at their phones.) An NYU study said 8% of people hit and injured by vehicles were using electronic devices.
The NYPD says the precinct’s most dangerous intersections include 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, 86th and Amsterdam, and 72nd and Columbus. They will be hanging signs up soon reminding pedestrians to look before crossing.
Mayor de Blasio, like Mayor Bloomberg before him, is in danger of sending a mixed message — pushing a progressive pedestrian safety agenda, but remaining laissez-faire when it comes to enforcement of traffic laws. Streetsblog called it “the schizophrenic traffic safety policies of the Bloomberg administration.” Drivers almost never face charges in New York, even when the people they hit die.
So far, de Blasio has relied on Police Commissioner William Bratton’s judgment. Bratton’s NYPD has been ticketing jaywalkers near 96th street, while the taxi driver who hit and killed a 9-year-old boy walking across West End Avenue (with the Walk sign) didn’t face any criminal charges. That said, a Park Slope precinct has begun cracking down on drivers who fail to yield. Perhaps that policy will be tried on the UWS too. And where are those speed cameras we’re supposed to be getting?
Local street safety activist Liz Patek says that the NYPD needs to shift enforcement strategies:
“If the NYPD truly has a vested interest in pedestrian safety, issuing a crackdown on jaywalking is not the answer. They need to shift their focus towards reckless and distracted drivers who speed and fail to yield to pedestrians who do have the right of way.”
Photo by mith17.