Press Releases

Press Release #11-40

Seth Solomonow/Scott Gastel (212) 839-4850

NYC DOT Announces Release of Sustainable Streets Index

Annual Survey of Key Travel Indicators Highlights That New York Is Increasingly Becoming a Walking, Transit and Biking-Oriented City

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced the release of the Sustainable Streets Index (SSI), an agency report that monitors key traffic indicators across the city and also evaluates the safety and mobility impacts of projects implemented by the agency. Now in its third installment, this year’s report introduces several new methods of looking at the street network, including a more expansive analysis of millions of taxi GPS trips to determine trends in travel speeds; face-to face surveys of travel modes and trip purpose in eight neighborhoods across the five boroughs; and detailed statistics about 11 projects implemented across the city. The report found that travel speeds increases in Manhattan’s Central Business District (CBD) from 2008 to 2009 before stabilizing in 2010, while surveys in eight neighborhoods further show that New York is truly a walking, transit and biking city. The SSI allows DOT to continue to implement more performance-driven initiatives, which improve safety, mobility and sustainability across the city.

“This report shows that New York is increasingly a walking and transit city, and it also support the changes we’ve made as we build streets that work for everyone who uses them,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “This has paid off in improved safety for everyone, including motorists, with the last four years being the safest in the century that records have been kept—even as travel speeds remained stable.”

According to data collected from tens of millions of taxi trips, travel speeds in the CBD increased by 6 percent from fall 2008 to fall 2009, before leveling off at an average of 9.3 m.p.h. for trips between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays in 2010. However, despite stability for the most part, travel speeds in some areas where roadway changes were made actually increased. In terms of overall traffic, the SSI found that traffic coming into the Manhattan’s District CBD while increasing slightly in 2009, is lower than 2007 and has decreased 9% since 2000.

Last year’s edition of the SSI introduced GPS taxi data – millions of trips worth of it - being used to monitor average daily speeds in the city, allowing DOT to show speeds for each day of the year. That feature returns this year and showed 2010’s fastest travel day to be July 4th and its slowest falling in on December 29st.

The methodology used to observe and learn how people get around New York also helps augment the limited use of commuting-based Census data, which looks only at trips to work, which comprise only 18% of all trips, and not shopping, leisure or other trips.

The neighborhood surveys found that in the Upper East Side, Union Square, Brooklyn Heights, Fordham, Jackson Heights and Park Slope, between 85 to 93% of respondents walked, rode a bicycle or used public transportation to get to their destination. The numbers were also an impressive 78% and 60% in Astoria, Queens and New Dorp, Staten Island, respectively.

Key findings in traffic and transit trends following an analysis of 11 major DOT projects implemented by the end of 2009

  • Injuries from vehicular crashes decreased by 48% along Gerritsen Avenue in Brooklyn following a project that brought a painted median, installed left-turn bays and refuge islands.
  • In Manhattan, injuries to motor vehicle occupants and bicyclists both decreased by 35% on Allen and Pike Streets after implementation of lane reconfigurations, dedicated left-turn bays, pedestrian plazas, pedestrian refuge islands and other improvements.
  • Injuries from vehicular crashes decreased by 24% along Houston Street in Manhattan after implementation of lane reconfigurations, dedicated left-turn bays, new medians, pedestrian refuge islands and other improvements.
  • At a time when other crosstown buses were losing passengers by about 5%, bus ridership along 34th Street in Manhattan increased by up to 6% after installation of bus countdown clocks and other improvements.
  • Delivery trucks saw travel times improve 130% from a pilot of off-hour deliveries, based on a comparison of evening and midday travel speeds.
  • Travel times improved by up to two minutes on Amboy Road in Staten Island, after we retimed traffic signals, reconfigured lanes reconfigurations and installed left-turn bays and other improvements.

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