Parts of the East Side of Manhattan can be so congested, there’s often not space on the sidewalks to walk. At times, crossing the street, even in the crosswalk with the “walk” sign lit, can seem a stressful neck exercise as our eyes scout every possible direction. But our neighborhoods are amazingly safe for the pedestrian, if recent city statistics are to be believed.
As of April, The number of pedestrian fatalities on the East Side this year was zero. See map above. The red dots indicate locations of fatalities. None occurred on the Upper East Side or in Midtown East.
Of course, any pedestrian death is one too many, but compared to years past, walking has become safer than in recent years. And the phenomenon is citywide. Last year, the city’s pedestrian fatalities hit the lowest level since 1910!
The curse of sidewalk clutter
That does not mean our pedestrian experience is ideal. Yes, we have wonderful storefronts that entertain us for miles. Visual boredom is not a frequent problem on the East Side.
But our neighborhoods suffer the curse of sidewalk clutter. Narrow sidewalks are made narrower by parked bicycles, food carts, chained signs and construction paraphernalia. Lines to cross the street form around subway stations at rush hour. The crowding at E. 59th and Lexington Avenue (the Bloomingdale’s stops) is legendary.
And walkers are often threatened by cyclists riding on the sidewalk. That’s illegal, you know. The police have their hands full, we understand, and can’t go after every scofflaw on a bike. And they do confiscate motorized bikes used on sidewalks. However, the time is long past for a crackdown on all sidewalk cycling.
Speaking of personal safety, there were also no murders in the Upper East Side or in Midtown East for all of 2017.
Now if we could do something about the noise . . .