A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and PCI exposed an irony for pedestrians in the most walkable city in the nation. They found that pedestrians in New York City were afforded many opportunities by living there, but accessible sidewalks were not one of those amenities.
In their poll, they found that distracted walking and driving were the cause of unsafe conditions for both pedestrians and drivers. They also concluded that distracted walking could present cities with as much potential for danger as distracted driving. Teens and young adults are most at risk for distracted walking, driving, and injury from the associated hazards of these behaviors.
Legislators are seeking solutions to keep citizens safe from injury and death. Research has exposed very serious unintended consequences of allowing technology to distract one’s ability to perform important tasks that require focus. Creating laws to propel positive change for citizens adversely impacted by unsafe walking conditions may be more difficult than initially realized.
In addition to smartphones creating distracted walkers, New York City pedestrians are also being placed in danger from crowded sidewalks. Walking is not a task that many people would consider to require a vast amount of focus, but navigating the overcrowded city streets of New York is a perilous activity. The most walkable city in the country has sidewalks so crowded that pedestrians are forced to walk in the street.
Pedestrian gridlock is a common complaint of city residents. Many citizens living in neighborhoods near transit locations have complained of human gridlock that has made the city less manageable on foot.
Walkers often use their smart devices to pass the time while they commute, but it has the unintended consequence of making them less attentive to their immediate surroundings. They push, shove, and bump into other walkers – creating unsafe transit conditions for both walking and driving commuters.
Some of the more popular areas of the city boast foot traffic of more than 26,000 people during rush hours, which slows walking speeds to half a normal stride. These conditions have pushed many pedestrians from sidewalks into the streets as they seek faster commuting times and less crowding.
Between distracted walking and packed sidewalks, there have been 55 pedestrian fatalities already this year. The transportation department for the city has conducted research to study the patterns of pedestrian traffic in New York. They are paying particularly close attention to crosswalks and high traffic corridors. Because pedestrian traffic is projected to climb exponentially over the next decade, it’s imperative that the city and larger metro areas like New York start improving walkways now.
Pedestrian fatalities were down during the first quarter of the year, but the growing number of those choosing to walk off the sidewalk presents a new challenge for walkable cities and city officials. The risk of personal injury to pedestrians is substantial, especially as other activities draw their attention from their commute.
If you sustained personal injury from a driver while commuting through the city, or you have reason to believe your injury was due to negligence, then contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Cohen and Jaffe, LLP. We have offices on Long Island, and we concentrate on personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases.