It isn't your imagination. The streets of New York really are getting more crowded. Twice a year for the past five years the city has been tracking the "pedestrian volume index" at 50 of the city's busiest intersections and the numbers (with few exceptions) just keep going up. "Fixing the volume in 2007 at a base of 100, the index rose by more than 10 percent, to 113.2, last May," reportedly. And, according to preliminary numbers for September the Times got its paws on, the numbers went up even more between May and September. Perhaps soon we really will need those Pedestrian Rules of Conduct and a tourist lane?
"Everybody is a pedestrian at some point,” DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told the Gray Lady. "It’s staggering when you think how many people are walking the streets of New York City at any given time." Seriously! Back in 2007 about 350,000 people a day were passing through Times Square, 97,000 walked down Main Street in Flushing, Queens, and 80,000 or so walked on East Fordham Road in the Bronx. And since then the numbers have generally not decreased:
Surveyors wielding hand-held counters found 31,701 people on West 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 10 and 26,106 on Fifth Avenue between East 54th and 55th Streets during the same time period two days later. On West 14th between Hudson and Eighth, the volume was 11,166 in September, according to preliminary figures, compared with 8,911 in May and 7,0555 the previous September.
Suddenly the fact that traffic fatalities are down this year seems all the more impressive!