In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2003, researchers found that Americans are lagging behind other countries when it comes to walking. They found that Americans took just 5,117 steps per day while citizens of countries such as Japan took 7,168, western Australians took 9,695, and the Swiss took 9,650. Most health experts recommend taking about 10,000 steps per day, which equates to five miles. Despite New Yorkers walking more than most people in other states, our average still falls well under the 10,000 step mark.
This is due to a variety of reasons. Many cities around the country, and areas within New York, are not designed for pedestrians. Wide, fast surface streets with four or more lanes and a narrow, broken sidewalk or no sidewalk at all pose a huge threat to pedestrians. Few areas are designated for people that wish to walk, jog, or bike compared with the space allotted to motor vehicle traffic. And with distracted driving on the rise, car sizes are larger now than ever in history, and fast speed limits are not compatible with for the safety of pedestrians. Walking down the street is dangerous.
With slightly more emphasis in recent years being put on alternative transportation methods and more infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, walking has become safer throughout the last decade. According to Vision Zero, in 2009 there were 158 pedestrian fatalities, 11,928 pedestrian injuries, and 12 cyclist fatalities. Fast forward to 2014 and there were 139 pedestrian fatalities, 10,984 pedestrian injuries, 20 cyclist fatalities, and 3,982 cyclist injuries. While the danger of cycling saw a rise, pedestrian injuries and fatalities took a nice decline. As of November 30th, 2015 there have been 117 pedestrian fatalities and 9, 528 injuries. This comes, in part, due to the new speed limit of 25 miles per hour imposed within New York City back in 2014. This is the most recent data that Vision Zero has compiled, and with just a month to go until the new year, it appears that 2015 is still following the trend of fewer and fewer pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
The Hazards of Walking
While the trend is leaning in the right direction of safer streets for walking, the following are the reasons
- According to Automotive Fleet, 40% of all motor vehicle collisions involve drivers operating cell phones;
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving drunk;
- In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that during daylight hours, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating other electronic devices at every moment. Electronic use is on a sharp rise, meaning that even a study done two years ago may be out of date at this point; and
- Roadways are designed for cars, not pedestrians;
- Cars are larger now than they ever have been in history, meaning they are harder to control, take longer to come to a stop, and offer worse visibility to the driver than cars of the past.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a motor vehicle while walking or riding a bike, contact an experienced pedestrian or cycling attorney today for legal advice.
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