A Second Perspective on Three-Way Streets

Over at our sibling site, Utility Cycling, Melanie posted “3-Way Street Campaign,” with a video showing a single intersection in New York City, highlighting the close interactions between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

Top 10 Causes of Death and Hospitalization in NYC
Top 10 Causes of Death and Hospitalization in NYC | Source: NYC.gov

The purpose of the video, I think, is to show all of the bad behavior of the three types of users.

This is one intersection.

There are 12,370 in NYC.

74% of crashes happen in intersections.

4 people are killed or seriously injured everyday.

I thought, That’s not so bad. If this intersection is a microcosm of New York pedestrian-cyclist-motorist interaction, I’m impressed.

Ron Gabriel, the artist who created the video, highlights all of the schmucks with a flashing red marquee whenever they come within close proximity of another user of the intersection.

The soundtrack is a rather awesome rendition of Henry Mancini‘s Peter Gunn Theme performed by The Art of Noise, which lends an ominous feel to all of the interactions.

Four people killed every day in a city of more than eight million? Taking his statistics at face value, that’s an injury-death rate of 0.00005% — roughly half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a half of a percent, per day; less than two tenths of a percent per year.

I looked into the leading causes of injury death and hospitalization in NYC, which are summarized above. (Don’t blame NYC for the sloppy image. That’s my work.)

Bicycles are nowhere to be found in the top ten. When you break it down to age groups, bicycles do make the injury list (#7 for ages 5-9, and #4 for ages 10-14), and the death list (#4 for ages 10-14).

But for the adults who are using bikes to get around the city in all modes of surface transportation, I’d say they’re getting along pretty well.

Try looking past the red marquees in the video. Note that this intersection doesn’t really have any special cycling infrastructure. Consider that motorists are a formerly privileged class of user who are adjusting to a new reality. Mute the sound on the video and play Mancini’s Moon River instead.

Viewed from that perspective, this video makes me feel kind of optimistic. Not complacent by any stretch, but I think we’ll all be able to get along.

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