New Stats Show More People Being Injured in Traffic Crashes

Car crash, West 72nd Street. File photo.

By Fernanda Martinez

The number of crashes with injuries is rising on the Upper West Side this year, and block associations are hoping to get police and community organizations to focus more on the issue.

Last Wednesday, September 22, the Upper West Side Coalition of Block Associations held a virtual forum to address the concerns of residents over matters of traffic safety.

In attendance were law enforcement representatives from the 20th and 24th precincts, as well as representatives from the Department of Transportation, and several non-profit community organizations.

Among the topics discussed were the rise in traffic-related fatalities, measures the city is taking to protect pedestrians, and the ongoing citizen concerns that no measures will be enough until there is more efficient street engineering in the neighborhood.

On a citywide basis, there has been a 30% increase in traffic-related fatalities over the last year. “Over the last 12-month period, a pedestrian was killed by a motorist every three days,” said Liz De Vito, chair of the Coalition’s programming committee, who moderated the forum. She was citing NYPD data.

On the Upper West Side, stats presented at the meeting show that the total number of collisions is down this year, but the number of injuries is up 21%. Motorcycles are causing the largest rise in the number of crashes on a percentage basis.

De Vito called upon the police and community organizations to explain what measures they are each taking to keep the community safe.

“We find that the majority of the persons being struck and killed in the roadways are seniors,” said Captain Leighton Myrie, a representative of the 20th Precinct. “We’re going to be deploying our auxiliaries along Amsterdam Avenue to assist some of the seniors in getting across the roadways, and distribute literature into those high-rise buildings, trying to get more people involved and aware of the conditions that are out there.”

Local precincts handed out fewer tickets for moving violations for several months this year, even as traffic began to rise on the streets. More recently, police have started giving out more tickets in one section of the neighborhood. In August, the 20th precinct (59th-86th) increased enforcement, giving out four times as many tickets as in May. But stats from the 24th (86th-110th) indicate that enforcement continues to lag prior months. The precinct gave out 39% fewer tickets for moving violations in August than it did in March.

Julia Kite-Laidlaw, from the New York City Department of Transportation, noted that the city has installed upwards of 1,000 speed cameras and has redesigned street markings on Amsterdam Avenue to provide dedicated time for cyclists to switch sides of the streets, thus improving safety conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. “We’re targeting the behaviors that will have the greatest change there,” she said.

However, Steve Anderson, chairman of the board of the block association coalition, thought these measures were not happening quickly enough to truly protect the community. “We are scared to be in the street,” he began. “Many of us are aging; we’re an older population.”

“We are a community that is scared about safety in the streets, and we need enforcement,” he added. “We need not to wait years before changes are made. We thought bicycles were going to go up one avenue and down another and that there were going to be bicycles, and we were supportive of bicycles. Now we have unbelievable activity. And we’ve got the street restaurants squeezing us all in, and it feels out of control. As I walk around our community, people say to me, what are we going to do about that? What is the community board going to do? What is the Department of Transportation going to do?”

NEWS | 54 comments | permalink
    1. JC says:

      “We’re going to be deploying our auxiliaries along Amsterdam Avenue to assist some of the seniors in getting across the roadways, and distribute literature into those high-rise buildings, trying to get more people involved and aware of the conditions that are out there.”

      So instead of cracking down on reckless drivers, they’re going to help elderly people cross the street and “distribute literature to make people aware” of what, that cops won’t do their jobs and actually ticket law breakers? Nice.

    2. Madd Donna says:

      The DeBlasio appointed Commissioner of Transportation has absolutely NO experience in this field. Might that be the true cause of the chaos in our slowly dying city??

    3. Marianne says:

      Thank you for this article. There definitely is an increase in danger for pedestrians. I’ve had many close calls with motorcycles /motorized bicycles / motorized boards running lights or going the wrong way and running lights. If I wasn’t able to jump out of the way at the last moment with my dancer’s body, I would have already gotten hit many times.
      Also, in riverside park in the pedestrian zone right by the water there are motorcycles often in packs of 3-5 running through. Two toddlers were almost hit this week. have taken pictures and sent them to the parks department repeatedly- no one patrolling the area anymore and of course no responses to my emails.

    4. Jay says:

      Lots of drivers going 45 MPH+ will do that.

      And pedestrians now having to pay extra attention so as to avoid the illegal driving of scooters and throttle e-bikes makes matters worse.

    5. dead man walking says:

      make it like europe – we need bollards everywhere; bump outs at every intersection; red light and speed cameras at every intersection armed 24/7; all stop signs become traffic lights with cameras; speed bumps on every residential block; double the crossing time at every major intersection. lightly used-streets such as westend become pedestrian/bikes/delivery only. license plates for anything going over 10 mph. Meter maids should be writing traffic violations. Quadruple the penalties, minimally. Bring congestion pricing up to 110th st. Do not care what the end result to traffic is – get on the highway if you need to pass through the neighborhood or plan on sitting for 30 minutes to go ten blocks.

    6. Crankypants says:

      Regardless of age, pedestrians are at risk from the anarchy of speeding scooters, ebikes, cycles etc all zooming along on sidewalks and in wrong directions….no law enforcement or repercussions as we are left to dodge/fend for ourselves. DeBlasio & our local officials dropped the ball on this like…with everything else. It’s chaos and anarchy out there. Let the walkers beware!

    7. Uwsider says:

      Cars are running red lights on the UWS without any fear of consequences. The police have given up bothering.

    8. Elvin says:

      De Blasio’s signature Vision Zero should have been called Zero Vision. Westend Ave. was mutilated beyond recognition and still the fatalities rise.

      Enforcement and penalties dissuade potential offenders. Everything else is just hope and magic dust.

    9. Js says:

      There are many more cyclists on the streets, especially Citibike.
      NYC bicyclists are really a danger – routinely go through red lights, go the wrong way and weave around pedestrians.

      I feel sorry for the exploited delivery workers and think they try to be careful.

      It is the “regular” cyclists who are egregious in their disregard.

      • Isaac says:

        The numbers quoted make it clear that the vast majority of injuries are from cars (217) vs bikes (91). Yes citi bikers could be more careful but the real damage is caused by drivers.

        • Js says:

          Actually what is not in the data – when people especially elderly are injured from a bike hit or fall when trying to avoid a bike – and those injuries end up being permanent or leading to the terminal event.

          For example, elderly person falls, breaks hip – never recovers and passes away months later.

          The death certificate will reflect a “natural” death.

    10. Anon says:

      Can someone please explain this comment or give me an example of where such a thing is
      redesigned street markings on Amsterdam Avenue to provide dedicated time for cyclists to switch sides of the streets,

    11. Stupid Bikes says:

      This is what people have been saying for the past year. People who’ve been out walking on the UWS, dodging bicycles, scooters and skateboarders, trying to stay alive.

      One example, observed a thousand times: The crossing light that lets pedestrians get into the intersection before cars begin turning? This measure is obviated by bicycles running through redlights and crosswalks. Pedestrians have to wait for them to clear, then start crossing the street, by which time turning cars are into the intersection. First dodge bikes, THEN negotiate turning vehicles.

      And they tell us it’s the cars. It’s the BIKES, stupid.

      • Josh says:

        Number 1: your argument doesn’t hold water kn the face. The premise of this article is that there is an increase in injuries and fatalities on the UWS, and just about all of those injuries and fatalities are caused by motor vehicles. So to say the issue is not about cars but about bikes makes absolutely no sense. If it they publish and article saying that hundreds of people are dying from tainted sushi, are you going to say the real problem is rotten avocados because you dont like avacados?

        • Josh says:

          Number 2: just a point of information, but it is legal for a bicycle rider to go through an intersection on a leading pedestrian interval, provided they are going with the walk signal and are required to yield to pedestrians crossing. Yes, there are sometimes issues with riders failing to yield, but I find the same issues with turning motor vehicles as well.

      • sean says:

        That is also 100 percent right. I also keep asking bikes to get off the sidewalks and they have the audacity to threaten me. i have a photo of a bike with a bright light on 68 st sidewalk coming right towards me: i took a photo.. Anyone want to see what is really happening? TAKE PHOTOS OF THESE GUYS… They are also gaining some screwed up attitude that THIS IS ALL OKAY.. Truly: i do not exaggerate.. I am going to start videoing their nasty comments when you ask them to please get off the sidewalks.. They are irreverent!

    12. Charles says:

      Julia Kite-Laidlaw, from NYC DOT is a former employee of Transportation Alternatives….

      Can you put the fox in charge of the hen house and expect a different result?

      “We’re going to be deploying our auxiliaries along Amsterdam Avenue to assist some of the seniors….”

      Can you ask to defund the police and then expect their support?

      At what point is it our responsibility to create change?

      • RK says:

        Transportation Alternatives is an excellent training ground to help the country’s densest city deal with its transportation issues.

        The police have not been defunded.

    13. Carlos says:

      The bulk of the responsibility belongs with the riders, whether they are in cars, on bikes, scooters, mopeds, etc. They must be careful and obey the law, and the law must be enforced.

      That being said, pedestrians need to be more community minded. If you are crossing the street, hurry up. Put away your phone. Don’t cross against the light and play chicken with cars. I constantly see able-bodied people slowly strolling across the street when cars are trying to turn.

      • Sid says:

        Slowly strolling? In the scenario you provided, pedestrians have the right of way, and cars need to yield to all pedestrians regardless of how fast they are walking.

        • Carlos says:

          Pedestrians could be more considerate and walk at a reasonable pace. I frequently see a long line of cars waiting to make a turn and pedestrians are crossing at the pace of a snail while checking their phones, staring into space, or whatever else. It is the equivalent of slowly walking down a narrow sidewalk with five people side-by-side so no one can get by. People should be more considerate of others.

          Again, this does not justify the reckless behavior of drivers. But it is worth mentioning.

          • Paul says:

            Not really it isn’t.
            People walk at different paces for different reasons and you have no ability to judge the reasons why.

            • Carlos says:

              Almost every day when taking my kids to school I see people stopping in the middle of cross walks to read or send a text when a school bus is trying to turn onto the street to drop off kids. It isn’t a huge delay but it is just common courtesy to be aware of your surroundings and get out of the way.

              I’m not such a Neanderthal that I am complaining about the elderly, handicapped or others who are clearly doing their best but going slow.

              I shouldn’t have brought it up. I was just hoping to make people a little more self-aware – it makes the city a much nicer place to live.

    14. JS says:

      Unbelievable how much money is spent to expand the bicycling infrastructure.

      And at the same time – over years – bus service, routes and frequency have declined,
      (Not to mention new “normal” of Open Streets causing bus rerouting.)

      Bus and subway should be the sole funding focus – not bicycles.

      • Sid says:

        Buses and Subways are state-owned entities, bike lanes are created by the city. Totally separate funding.

        • JS says:

          Actually the City contributes to the MTA.

          Also DOT has input into and/or administers significant aspects of public transportation and public transportation services – for example determining the placement of bus stops or funding Fair Fares.
          Lots of DOT bicycle money that could go to bus and subway….

    15. S says:

      NYC-DOT like other city departments is an incompetent ideology led clowntocracy that make our city decrementally less safe with every misguided intervention. Like everywhere else in this city we abandon evidence based policies in favor of knee-jerk ideology led nonsense with no plan or thought.

      • Isaac says:

        Yes the UWS should embrace evidenced based policies like redesigning streets to calm traffic and create more space for pedestrians.

    16. Irate Partisan says:

      Fewer tickets? In the case of the 20th precinct, there were 0 tickets written in a few categories. The NYPD hypes shootings whenever it can, but when it comes to doing the things that actually protect New Yorkers, are cops doing their jobs?

    17. JEFFREY says:

      There is a green utility ATV that frequently drives around 97th to 100st Columbus to Amsterdam. This ATV is owned by COLUMBUS SQUARE and is used for transporting trash. It is unregistered and not licensed. It drives on the sidewalk and bike lane. It makes U-turns in the middle of the street. It is a danger to all pedestrians and needs to be confiscated. 24th precinct does nothing since they park their personal cars in the building parking lot.

    18. Mary S Banerian says:

      Too many lanes and corners are blocked by construction and double parking,making it harder on both pedestrians and motor vehicles to squeeze in the intersection. Pedestrians have to keep looking right and left continually while crossing the street to avoid bikes and scooters.

    19. Ross says:

      Dead Man Walking is right – we need actual infrastructure (not enforcement, not painted lines) that prioritizes pedestrians, bikes, and other mobility devices that are not CARS. It’s ridiculous that in one of the most dense, walkable neighborhoods in the country, cars are still treated like the kings of the street. I appreciate the block associations focusing on this issue, but “enforcement” will not do anything to change the bigger picture. I would love to see permanent open streets, but even if you don’t totally eliminate cars from streets, you can add physical infrastructure, such as bollards and protected bike or bus lanes and speed bumps, that slow down and limit car traffic.

      To all of the commenters blaming bicycles – if we had adequate, separated bike infrastructure, then bikes would be less of an issue for pedestrians. The data in the article shows that the problem is CARS. Our streets are mostly “car sewers,” and drivers have become more and more dangerous in the past couple of years. The UWS has so much potential to be a walker’s paradise, filled with plazas and linear parks and connected bike lanes and wide sidewalks. We are wasting so much of that potential just so a small minority can drive whenever and wherever they please.

      • Nevets K says:

        I feel the same about dogs and dog owners.
        Only a minority of New Yorkers own dogs.
        So why should “we” give up valuable public sidewalk space to dog owners and dog walkers just so – to paraphrase you – a small minority can walk their dogs “wherever and whenever they please”?
        I trust you see how inane and self-serving my argument is – just the same as yours!

        • BMAC says:

          Please cite the statistics on fatal dog collisions in connection with your ludicrous straw man.

      • Isaac says:

        Completely agree – the bikes are only on the sidewalk to avoid getting killed by reckless drivers. Build better bike infrastructure at the expense of parking and driving space.

    20. J Assimacopoulos says:

      I am an Upper West Sider and take walks daily. I ALWAYS see
      drivers going through red lights after it has changed from green and the pedestrians have the green light/walk signs.
      I’ve have learned to wait a few beats to make sure all traffic that should be stopped isn’t still moving.
      No tickets for the law breakers? Escorts is a lovely idea, but do we really have as many police as elderly folks on the UWS?

    21. E Barbara Hariton says:

      Who did Citibike pay off to take up so much space for their bikes and to push the proliferation of recreational bikes in NYC? Non service bikes and their off springs, scooters and skates have created chaos in a crowded city where necessary vehicles providing supplies and public transportation can not function and children and pedestrians cannot survive. Allowing restaurants to use the streets is an insane idea which also has earned political points for politicians. This CANNOT be controlled by police.
      We have an irresponsible gov’t that says yes to any group that pays off and face no consequences. They run the city like permissive parents whose kids run amok.

      • Charles says:

        Citi Bike is part of the Cuomo/ NYSERDA/ UN/Agenda 21 Initiative.

        In very rare instances, the bike stations have been moved upon request. A station on 79th Street was moved when someone from St. Patricks Cathedral who lived on the street “made a phone call.”

      • Isaac says:

        Letting restaurants use the street for seating has been awesome for the UWS! I love the vibe, shows how much better our neighborhood becomes when we remove space dedicated to cars.

    22. Ellen Jacobs says:

      A walk in Riverside Park has become even more potentially lethal than it been, as if that was possible. It’s now like taking a stroll on the West Side Highway. I counted at least six motor bikes on the pedestrian walks along the River, none of which had license plates. It’s the same on the streets, where the motor bikes go whizzing through red lights, none with plates. Distributing safety materials and helping seniors cross the street, really? What about putting an end to those that endanger lives by ticketing them? It seems the only drivers who get ticketed are those who overstay their meter allowance, are an inch too close to a fire hydrant, or are five minutes late in moving their cars on alternate street parking days.

      Speeding bicycles, too, remain a threat. There are so many obvious and simple solutions. How about speed bumps with warning signs for runners and bicyclists: Speed bump ahead. What about requiring license plates for all moving vehicles, including bikes.

    23. Grace says:

      As a long time UWSer I have been shocked by the all the reckless ebikes. They go fast and in every direction. I’m scared walking my dog everyday. I have seen cops on the street do nothing while someone on a bike rides by on the sidewalk. Now cops are doing random stops of cars while a bike rider passes them going the wrong way. Just last week I saw four-five cops randomly pull over a car while a biker passes by going against traffic at 74th Street and Amsterdam. Not one of the cops even looked up.

    24. Nanna Sue says:

      Captain Myrie, thank you! ever since I turned 65, I’ve had such trouble crossing the street. Boy Scouts tried to help me but they’re too short, I can’t see them any more than I can see speeding cars. But a big strong policeman like you! it’s just what the doctor ordered. You can explain what that flashing red sign means. I used to know but the very day after I turned 65 I forgot. The day after that, I became confused about the numbers displayed on those signs. They must be speed limits, right? Then why do they keep going down from 29?

      Oh Captain, my Captain my grandson tells me, if I remember, I had practically a complete memory loss on the fifth day, I think, after turning 65. He says that there really isn’t anything wrong with the way people over 65 cross the street. But there is something very wrong with the representative of a neighborhood precinct blaming the victims of speeding cars, motorcycles and ebikes because the police are too inept to stop these reckless drivers by enforcing the law.

      But my grandson is just being kind to his grandma. You understand Captain that I’m past my prime and pretty much useless without your help. To thank you for your street crossing lessons (how will I ever find the street?) I want to bake you a pie but I’m sure you’d tell me not to do it without getting instruction from con Ed about using my oven.

    25. Nevets K says:

      Thank Transportation Alternatives and similar anti-community groups. They got what they wanted.
      Also, again, many people follow rules only from fear of punishment. Once the fear of punishment is removed (the police no longer enforcing certain laws), these people will do whatever the heck they want. Hence, the chaos and the lack of personal safety on our streets.
      As soon as the police decide to enforce, things will immediately change for the better. Yes, and regrettably, it’s as simple as that!

    26. Jan says:

      just get the damn bikes and motorbikes OFF
      NYC streets!!!!!!!!!!

    27. Scooterer says:

      I love riding my scooter, a cheap little commuter middle that tops out at the 15mph that happens to be the legal limit, and for the most part I try to be legal about where and how I’m riding. A few observations I’ve had though:

      1) even when I’m on the street, people seem to mistake that I’m about to blow through a crosswalk and run into them while they cross. Doesn’t seem to matter at what speed I approach, I’ve even been STOPPED and started people. I think many people just aren’t used to these sorts of vehicles yet, that’s are often right there at the crosswalks instead of like 5-10ft back

      2) you kinda have to go through red lights a lot of times. I don’t claim to know what the answer to this is, it’s simply an observation. Not doing so has caused me to be a nuisance to drivers, and even pedestrians. Sometimes (often!) it’s just a better, safer idea to just go and get out of the way when there’s an obvious clear time to do so. This is not at all advocating blowing straight through a red with little regards at all, I honestly don’t know how some of these riders are still alive doing that so regularly.

      3) despite my best efforts, there’s many encounters I feel bad about and replay thinking and knowing that I could have done something better. These vehicles, and even bikes, are kinda like in the early days of cars where intersections were negotiated on the fly, before signals or even a belief that there should be signals. Because of that, there’s bound to be mistakes. But a mistake with a bike or scooter that’s being reasonably aware and respectful is much better than a car with a driver texting at just the wrong time no matter what speed they’re going. For the record I’ve never once made any sort of physical contact with anyone at any speed, but even when I’m completely legal in every way, encounters still happen. Pedestrians walk out suddenly into the bike lane all the time, they walk into a red crosswalk without even looking, etc. I think all drivers in all modes are currently getting used to changes

    28. Rick says:

      When I have asked police on the street when they were going to take action against motorized bikes and all the other motorized vehicles now illegally riding on the sidewalks, cutting off cars, trucks and buses, passing red lights, etc., etc. etc. I have been too that the mayor has said not to ticket or they will be accused of harassment. Pedestrians and other vehicles seem not to count. We need enforcement!

    29. Henriette Amage says:

      As always, there’s no one silver bullet. The city’s hideous design of letting bike lanes run through outdoor restaurants. The explosive rise in delivery services and citibike, the lack of respect for traffic rules, and the lack of enforcement. Why should anyone respect red lights if police regularly don’t (not talking about rushing to a call)? Why should anyone on their bike slow down or go the right direction if there’s no enforcement? Double parked vehicles everywhere? I’ve never seen traffic police stop for that.

      Here’s my suggestion:
      – on every cross-town block, one side should be exclusively reserved for resident parking
      – on every Avenue, there’s one (time limited) loading spot, and one TLC stop (if Uber etc. want to use the TLC spots, they should pay. Residential mass deliveries like Amazon/FreshDirect/FedEx/UPS should be required to build their local delivery hubs instead of taking advantage of our (almost) free parking spots.
      – Move bike lanes on the street side of outdoor restaurants, and strictly enforce the direction and red lights. First time a ticket, second time a desk appearance ticket, third time forfeit bike or drivers license.
      – Too many bikes? Reduce ordering food or groceries from delivery services. Aside from ruthless bike traffic, the guys have horrible work conditions and little safety net. Support restaurants that have their own delivery guys and order from them directly instead of through Uber Eats etc.

      • RK says:

        Along those lines:
        When ordering from a restaurant, first see if the restaurant has online ordering on their website. Ordering that way lets the restaurant avoid the monopolistic cut that Grubhub takes just for relaying the order to the restaurant. This only works for restaurants with their own delivery people of course.

    30. R. Simpson says:

      I am sorry but we need to take a hard look at actually banning cars from the island of Manhattan. Period! of course keep yellow cabs, public transit, and yes I figure have deliveries with trucks be made at night when people are home. BAN CARS!