New York State averages nearly 300 pedestrian fatalities annually. The GTSC supports efforts to prevent pedestrian crashes, including Pedestrian enforcement efforts in targeted high risk areas that focus on both motorists and pedestrians. Responsibility for addressing pedestrian, bicycle and wheel sport safety issues is shared among several agencies in New York and effective solutions to these issues often require collaborative efforts involving education, engineering and enforcement countermeasures.
Several communities around the state are addressing pedestrian high-crash locations through the implementation of campaigns to educate pedestrians and motorists and to actively enforce traffic laws at targeted locations. Communities are creating programs to address specific problem locations by using the "Be Seen Be Safe" materials to inform and educate both pedestrians and drivers and by having local police enforce vehicle and traffic laws. If you have a safety problem in your community, contact the GTSC for information on how to address it.
The transportation revolution of the twentieth century has displaced the pedestrian from most roads. The driver's license became the key to mobility in America and motorized vehicles the tools. Where once stores, entertainment and services were only a short walk away, they are now often clustered in shopping malls off major highways miles from town centers or suburban communities. Pedestrians are banned from roads such as expressways and interstate highways while the distances make it impractical if not impossible to walk to the malls in any case.
Programs & Solutions
Current Pedestrian Programs and Studies
NYS Partnership for Walk Our Children to School
The New York State Partnership for Walk Our Children to School has developed two tools for communities who are looking to implement a Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS). These include:
The purpose of the tools is to provide a list of professionals across the state and examples of exemplary programs to assist in the development of sound initiatives under the non-infrastructure side of the SRTS program focusing on encouragement, education and enforcement efforts.
The US Congress has mandated a National Bicycling and Walking Study. Its goals are to double the percentage of all trips made by bicycling or walking while reducing the current number of injuries and fatalities by ten percent. This five year research and development plan, cosponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is designed to contribute to the achievement of these two goals. More information is available at NHTSA.
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) also continues to promote safe walking in New York State. Although only about eight percent of the total traffic crashes in the state are pedestrian crashes, they are more likely to result in serious injury or death. The majority of pedestrian crashes happen in urban areas with New York City accounting for 72% of the crashes and 59% of the fatalities involving a pedestrian.
In addition to local programs, the following state agencies and programs focus on pedestrian safety. Phone numbers for many of these organizations are available in the "Related Sites & Sources" section on this page.
Assistance for Local Programs
In developing their own programs, localities can receive assistance from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the NYS Association of Traffic Safety Boards as well as the NYS Governor's Traffic Safety Committee. Your local traffic safety boards can also serve as a clearinghouse for ideas, data, experience and knowledge, and to encourage the cooperative efforts in your locality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which traffic laws apply to pedestrians?
Pedestrians must obey traffic control signals, signs and pavement markings when they are crossing a street [Section 1150, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
Pedestrians are not allowed on expressways or interstate highways.
What is the law regarding crosswalks?
When there is no traffic control signal, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, particularly if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, or there is potential danger to the pedestrian [Section 1151, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
In addition, every driver approaching an intersection or crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian accompanied by a guide dog or a cane [Section 1153-c, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
What if there isn't a crosswalk?
If there isn't a crosswalk, sign or signal at mid-block locations, a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway [Section 1152, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
What about sidewalks?
The driver of a vehicle, when entering or exiting from an alleyway, building, private road or driveway must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk [Section 1151-a, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
Pedestrians are required to use sidewalks where they are provided and safe to use. When sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian is required to walk on the left side of the roadway facing traffic [Section 1156-b, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
Follow the Pedestrian "Rules of the Road"
Just like motorists, pedestrians are expected to follow certain rules of the road, including:
See our page on Pedestrian Crossing Signals
Related Sites & Sources
For more information about pedestrian safety:
Pedestrian Information at NHTSA:
New York State Department of Transportation (DOT):
For bike and skate helmet information and/or health and safety information, please call the NYS Department of Health at (518) 473-1143.
You may contact the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety at (516) 829-0099.