A study: The dangers of being a vulnerable user in NYC

By: Georgia Lobb

Photo courtesy of Destructiod.com

This week the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery published a study that examined vulnerable roadway users in New York City between 2008-2011.

The study, conducted by the NYU Langone Medical Center, surveyed over 1,400 cyclists or pedestrians who were admitted to Bellevue Hospital due to a traffic related injury.

The study re-iterated the obvious: being a pedestrian is a dangerous position to be in- regardless of whether or not you jaywalk or not.  “Forty-four percent of the pedestrians injured on the street (to distinguish them from the handful who were injured on a sidewalk) were using a crosswalk with the signal in their favor, suggesting that there wasn’t much else they could be expected do to keep out the cross-hairs of car traffic,” said Emily Badger of Transportation Nation.

One odd finding was that cyclists or pedestrians with a higher body mass index generally sustained less severe injuries. The New York Times noted: “Excessive weight may prove a boon for pedestrians in a collision. Victims with an above-normal body mass index were found to have less severe injuries than their counterparts.”

Not surprisingly, the report noted that drugs and alcohol played a role in pedestrian injuries. In the case of patients aged 18 and older, 15 percent of pedestrians and 11 percent of cyclists were found to have alcohols in their blood at the time of the incident. And while city officials say it’s better to be walking than driving drunk, “it’s something probably worth thinking about in the future,” said Matthew Roe, a planning and research manager for the Transportation Department’s Division of Traffic and Planning.

The city’s cyclists need to be extra careful around taxis, according to the study, because they share the same area of the road often- the place where the curb meets the street. 40 percent of injured riders were hit by taxis, compared with 25 percent of the pedestrians, according to the New York Times.

And regardless of whether you travel by bike or foot, the most disturbing part of the report is that there’s hardly anywhere you can truly be safe, according to these following:

–       6% of pedestrians were injured while on a sidewalk

–       Of people injured on the street, 44% used a crosswalk with a signal

–       23% crossed the road midblock

–       9% cross against the signal

–       Other findings include: “Pedestrians standing in the road while waiting to cross, traffic officers being struck while policing a street, and travelers being hit while getting into or out of a vehicle.”- New York Times

The study confirms that there is a growing need for bike lands in order to protect cyclists, and will help with future transportation in NYC.