New York City’s final 2007 traffic fatality data, released on January 28, 2008, shows that fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in New York City have dropped to the lowest level since records started being kept in 1910: 271 traffic fatalities citywide, down more than 30% since 2001.
There were also an all-time low 136 pedestrian deaths last year-13% fewer than previous lows in both 2004 and 2005. Since 1990 pedestrian fatalities in NYC have decreased by 62%. Prior to 1950, pedestrians accounted for of all traffic fatalities. Since then, the percentage has decreased to only .
NYC Fatal Accident History 2000-2007 Year Pedestrian Bicycle Driver Passenger Motorcycle Total 2000 18718 95 59 21 380 2001192 13 105 58 24 392 2002 189 22 103 53 19 386 200317716 9355 19 360 2004 156 15 683622 297 2005156 22 774520 320 2006167 186845 23 321 2007 *NEW* 136 23 403735 271
New York’s declining rate contrasts with the statistics coming from Portland, Oregon, which has a higher percentage of people who bike to work than any other large American city and is considered one of the country’s most bike-friendly urban centers. There were six cycling deaths in Portland in 2007, an unusually large number, though Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator for the Portland Office of Transportation, and others say that with bicycle use up fourfold since the early 1990’s, the rate of collisions has actually declined.
One of the deadliest and most frequent bicycle vs. motorized vehicle accident is known as the “right hook collision”, in which a driver makes a right turn at an intersection without seeing a cyclist who is in his path. Right hooks killed two cyclists in Portland, Oregon, this past October; a college student and a bike racer hit by large trucks. The drivers say they did not see them.
In an attempt to combat this danger, Portland is introducing bike boxes to provide a clearly designated place for cyclists, in front of motorized traffic and in full view of drivers, to wait for traffic lights to change. The boxes will be marked with signs and wide stripes alerting drivers to stop behind them at red lights. Drivers will not be allowed to pass through the bike box to turn right on a red light, although many right hooks now occur after the light has turned green, when traffic quickly accelerates. Right hooks were what killed the two cyclists in October.
Another feature of the new project is that on the approach to an intersection with a bike box, the bicycle lane will be the same color as the box. We want them to have that visual cue to take a look over their shoulder, Mr. Geller, said of drivers, and we want cyclists to know this is an area for potential conflict. Portland will spend about $150,000 on the bike boxes and also plans to pay about $50,000 to retrofit larger trucks in the municipal fleet with new mirrors to reduce blind spots and with guard bars to prevent cyclists from falling into the trucks big wheel wells.
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