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[Study] The Most Dangerous School Zones for Pedestrians and Bicyclists in NYC

October 22, 2019 in

Most Dangerous School Zones in NYC

On October 24, 2014, an 8-year-old girl was killed outside of her school, Luisa Pineiro Fuentes School of Science and Discovery, when a parked vehicle reversed onto the curb and struck her. Nine other pedestrians were injured, including a 9-year-old girl who had just walked out of an after-school program on campus.

Although traffic fatalities as a whole in New York City have decreased in the past ten years, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are actually increasing – especially around school zones and other high-traffic areas.

In New York City, as many as 61 percent of students walk to school every day.  We wanted to see just how many pedestrian and bicycle accidents occur near school zones and which areas may pose a higher risk for students.

With the help of data visualization agency 1Point21 Interactive and up-to-date data from the NYPD, we were able to identify all crashes that occurred near public schools and determine the most dangerous school zones for pedestrians & bicyclists in New York City.

Interactive Map: Crashes Involving Pedestrian or Bicyclists in School Zones

*This map is interactive.  Zoom in to reveal each individual NYC public school.  School zones are represented by semi-transparent white circles.

Note: There may be schools which reside at the same address, yet have differing numbers of crashes, injuries, and fatalities. This discrepancy is due to the precision of our source data.  Rather than finding all crashes within 500 feet of the center of the address, the data allowed us to map the location of the actual building the school is housed in. That is why you may see staggering zones in the map – and therefore differing results for the same address.

Check Your Child’s School

How safe is your child’s school zone? (our database includes all public and charter schools).  Use this searchable database to find out.

school search tool gif

We mapped the location of every public school in New York City along with all collisions that resulted in a pedestrian or bicyclist injury or fatality.  We then identified all crashes that occurred within a 500-foot radius around each school. While we mapped all crashes pedestrian and cyclist injury, we only included those that occurred between 6 am and 10 pm in our zone analysis.  The result is a comprehensive list of all New York City public schools and the number of pedestrian and cyclist crashes, injuries and fatalities that occurred near each.

The 30 Most Dangerous School Zones in New York City

Below is a list of the 30 most dangerous school zones by crash volume (again, crashes involving pedestrian and cyclist injury between 6 am and 10 pm).

Rank School Name School Type Address Ped/Bike Deaths Pedestrians Injured Cyclists Injured Total Crashes
1 47 The American Sign Language And English Secondary School Secondary School 223 East 23 Street 0 45 37 79
2 Jonas Bronck Academy Junior High-Intermediate-Middle 400 East Fordham Road 0 65 12 75
3 Art And Design High School High school 1075 Second Avenue 1 44 26 69
4 Manhattan Village Academy High school 43 West  22 Street 1 40 30 69
5 School Of The Future High School Secondary School 127 East  22 Street 1 36 29 64
6 P.S. 116 Mary Lindley Murray Elementary 210 East  33 Street 0 52 14 63
7 James Weldon Johnson K-8 176 East 115 Street 0 45 22 63
8 High School For Dual Language And Asian Studies High school 350 Grand Street 0 44 19 61
9 Pacific High School High school 112 Schermerhorn Street 0 38 23 61
10 Manhattan Academy For Arts & Language High school 111 East  33 Street 0 40 19 59
11 High School For Health Professions And Human Services High school 345 East  15Th Street 0 25 35 59
12 Murray Hill Academy High school 111 East  33 Street 0 38 19 57
13 Norman Thomas High School High school 111 East  33 Street 0 37 19 56
14 Unity Center For Urban Technologies High school 111 East  33 Street 0 35 20 55
15 Brooklyn Frontiers High School High school 112 Schermerhorn Street 0 33 22 55
16 The 47 American Sign Language & English Lower Schoool K-8 223 East 23 Street 0 29 27 55
17 Institute For Collaborative Education Secondary School 345 East  15Th Street 0 29 26 54
18 P.S. 033 Timothy Dwight Elementary 2424 Jerome Avenue 0 48 6 53
19 P.S. 018 John Peter Zenger Elementary 502 Morris Avenue 0 39 16 53
20 P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto Elementary 143 Baxter Street 1 31 21 52
21 Repertory Company High School For Theatre Arts High school 123 West  43 Street 0 34 22 52
22 Family Life Academy Charter School Elementary 14 West 170 Street 1 45 6 50
23 Brooklyn Ascend Lower School Elementary 205 Rockaway Parkway 0 45 6 48
24 P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte Elementary 185 Wadsworth Avenue 0 40 11 48
25 School For Cooperative Technical Education High school 321 East  96 Street 0 25 22 47
26 P.S. M226 K-12 all grades 345 East  15Th Street 0 24 24 47
27 City Polytechnic High School Of Engineering, Architecture, And Technology High school 105 Johnson Street 0 18 29 46
28 P.S. K369  – Coy L. Cox School K-12 all grades 383 State Street 0 35 12 45
29 Adult And Continuing Education High school 475 Nostrand Avenue 0 34 14 45
30 P.S. 020 Anna Silver Elementary 166 Essex Street 0 24 24 45

The Most Dangerous School Zone

The most dangerous school zone in New York City is located at “47,” the American Sign Language and English Secondary School. Located in Manhattan on 223 East 23 Street, the school zone tallied 79 total crashes, leading to 45 pedestrian injuries and 37 cyclist injuries –the highest number of cyclist injuries in our list.

The cause for such a high number of pedestrian and cyclist accidents may seem self-explanatory, given the nature of the school. However, despite its focus on American Sign Language studies and emphasis on understanding deaf culture, only about 25 percent of the student body is clinically deaf or hard of hearing. Most of the other students come from a family that contains deaf members, while the remaining students simply desire a diverse education in deaf culture and other inclusive cultures.

In second is the Jonas Bronck Academy in the Bronx with 75 total crashes. These crashes led to 65 pedestrians injured and 12 cyclists injured. Although the middle school maintains a relatively low rate of cyclist injuries, it tallied the most pedestrian injuries of all NYC schools by far. Such a high number of pedestrian injuries may be cause for further investigation – this may indicate circumstances that result in severe pedestrian accidents that result in more serious injuries.

The third-ranked school zone was Art and Design High School in Manhattan, accounting for 69 total crashes. Located in the northeast end of Midtown Manhattan, these crashes led to one pedestrian fatality, 44 pedestrian injuries, and 26 cyclist injuries.

The Most Dangerous School Zones by Borough

Because NYC is so expansive, categorizing the data by its five boroughs gives greater insight into some of the biggest trouble spots for pedestrians and cyclists within a school zone.

The Bronx

As previously mentioned, Jonas Bronck Academy takes the top spot in the Bronx by a significant amount. The next most dangerous school zone in the borough is P.S. 033 Timothy Dwight, a public elementary school which accounted for 53 total crashes, 48 pedestrians injured, and 6 cyclists injured.

Interestingly, Timothy Dwight is less than a mile away from Jonas Bronck Academy – a brisk 15-minute walk between both schools. This would effectively make this cluster of school zones in the Fordham Heights neighborhood one of the most dangerous in not just the borough, but arguably the whole city.

Brooklyn

Two high schools in the same address took the top two spots for the deadliest school zone in Brooklyn. Pacific High School and Brooklyn Frontiers High School, located in Boerum Hill, contained 61 and 55 total crashes, respectively.

As mentioned previously, the disparity in total crashes and injuries despite being located in the same address has to do with the precision of our data mapping tools: the 500-foot zone is accurate to their respective locations within the building.

Ranking third was Brooklyn Ascend Lower School, a K-4 school located in Brownsville – tallying 48 total crashes leading to 45 pedestrian injuries and 6 cyclist injuries. The quantity of pedestrian injuries in this school zone makes this the leading school zone in Brooklyn with regard to pedestrian injuries.

Manhattan

The most densely populated borough in NYC, Manhattan also has the largest number of school zones with a high number of total crashes and injuries.

The aforementioned “47” is the top spot here, followed by both Art and Design High School and Manhattan Village Academy with both 69 total crashes each. Both of these schools are notable for having 1 pedestrian fatality.

One notable school zone in Manhattan is that which is located at P.S. 116 Mary Lindley Murray. Despite having approximately 20 percent fewer total crashes than the top spot, those resulted in 52 pedestrian injuries – the most pedestrian injuries in Manhattan, and enough to rank second in all of New York City.

Queens

Queens had relatively less dangerous school zones in terms of pedestrian and cyclist accidents. P.S. 020 John Bowne had the highest amount of crashes, with 34 total crashes leading to 29 pedestrian injuries and 5 cyclist injuries.

Interestingly, P.S. 330, the second-ranked school zone in Queens, had just 32 total crashes, but those resulted in 2 pedestrian fatalities. Although 2 fatalities may not seem like much, given the 7-year-span of data, that many fatalities from only 32 crashes represents a fatality rate that is higher than most other school zones in the entirety of New York City.

Staten Island

As the least populated borough in New York City, Staten Island appropriately has the least amount of dangerous school zones. The zone with the highest quantity of crashes was located at I.S. 027 Anning S. Prall with 13 total crashes and 13 pedestrians injured.

Staten Island is notably also the only borough with zero pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in our designated school zones.

NYC Pedestrian & Cyclist Accidents by Contributing Factor

In an attempt to determine the primary causes of these crashes, we looked at pedestrian and cyclist accidents in the city as a whole within the same time period. This data detailed the primary contributing factors of all such crashes – when it is explicitly known. Of the roughly 71,000 crashes tallied in this study, approximately 36% were caused by unspecified reasons.

However, the majority of the crashes did present primary contributing factors to all pedestrian and cyclist crashes in New York City. Excluding unspecified factors, the following details the most common factors in pedestrian and cyclist accidents in New York City.

Although this data does not explicitly convey the leading causes of pedestrian and cyclist accidents within our school zones, the relatively similar distribution of accidents makes it safe for us to assume that school zone crashes should follow the same general trend.

  • Driver Inattention/Distraction was by far the leading cause of pedestrian accidents in New York City, with over 15,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving. Although distracted driving remains a major problem across the country, it may be especially present at school zones, where motorists have to multitask between driving safely, preventing accidents, and picking up their children from school.
  • Failure to Yield Right-of-Way is the second leading cause of pedestrian accidents, causing nearly 12,000 pedestrian and cyclist crashes in New York City. This is especially pertinent to school zones, as the constant influx of pedestrians in crosswalks may lead to impatient motorists failing to yield to foot traffic. New York City’s right of way law dictates that all pedestrians have right of way at marked and unmarked crosswalks, while all vehicles must treat cyclists on the road as if they are motor vehicles as well.
  • Pedestrian/Bicyclist/Other Pedestrian Error/Confusion is the third leading cause of pedestrian accidents, but it accounts for just 8% of all pedestrian and cyclist crashes in the city. Although many state that the rise of smartphone use has inevitably led to greater numbers of accidents due to pedestrian distraction, data such as this seems to run counter to those arguments – a position that the city itself has maintained as well.

School Zone Safety Tips

In an effort to reduce pedestrian and cyclist accidents in school zones, it is highly recommended to follow these tips.

Parents

We hope that parents take the results of our study as a tool.  If your child’s school appears on our list, or you found that there were more pedestrian and bicycle crashes for your liking, we recommend taking the time to reacquaint your self and your child with safety information.  Most NYC schools participate in the Safe Routes to School program, so find out if your school has one and get acquainted with it.  Make sure they know about and are taking safe routes to school and understand the importance of following the rules of the road and obeying traffic signals and signs.  Talk to them (likely not for the first time) about the importance of avoiding distractions and paying attention to their surroundings.  Knowledge is power in these situations and can go a long way to keeping your children safe.

Drivers

  • Stay focused on the road and the surroundings. Children are unpredictable and can quickly dart out from behind a bus or vehicle – often without warning.
  • Follow all road signs and traffic laws. School zones are often busy and chaotic, especially during pick-up and drop-off times. Maintaining some order by following all the proper rules can reduce the chances of an unfortunate accident occurring.
  • Stay calm. Dealing with the increased traffic and chaos of students everywhere can make you feel stressed out or overwhelmed. Acting on these emotions and doing something irrational can result in tragedy.

Pedestrians & Cyclists

  • Minimize phone use while walking. Although pedestrian distraction is not a major cause of accidents, it still remains a very real contributing factor to accidents and fatalities.
  • Follow all right-of-way laws. Pedestrians have right of way at unmarked and marked crosswalks at intersections. By attempting to cross in the middle of the road, you may not only be breaking the law, but also drastically increasing the chances of getting struck by a vehicle.
  • Be cautious at crosswalks, even if you have right of way. Just because you are following the rules does not mean an incoming vehicle will. Before crossing the street, be sure to look both ways and ensure motorists are aware of your presence before crossing.
  • Do not follow too close to vehicles. Motorists must give cyclists at least three feet of space if passing or overtaking cyclists – but cyclists should also follow that rule when riding nearby motorists. A quick brake of a car is all it takes for an accident to happen.

Methodology

  • Our study uses collision data from the NYPD for the years of 2012 – July 2019.
  • Only crashes that resulted in an injury or death in pedestrians or cyclists were included.
  • Crash data for each zone reflects only crashes that occurred between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm.  These times were chosen because it matches the hours of New York City’s School Speed Camera program
  • School name, address and location data was provided by the New York Department of Education School Point Location dataset.