Wednesday, September 14, 2011

112 years ago a man died in New York City

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
112 years ago (yesterday) a man died in New York City. That's not so unusual you might say. NYC is a big town and people die there all the time. But on Sept. 13 of 1899, Henry Bliss, a Manhattan real estate salesman, stepped off a streetcar at West 74th Street and Central Park West and was struck by a passing taxicab. It crushed his skull and chest and he died the following morning making Bliss the very first pedestrian-automobile fatality in America. {I'm sure pedistrians were killed by horses and street cars before 1899 but Bliss is the first American killed by a car.} He may have been the 3rd person in the World killed by a car, the first was Mary Ward in 1869 in Ireland. {Who knew they even had cars, electric even!, back then?}

In 2003 4,749 pedestrians were reported killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. An estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured by motor vehicles. The statistics have improved slightly since then but experts think this is only because fewer Americans are walking.

Most at risk for being hit is young boys, ages 5-9, who dart into the street after a ball or just no reason at all. The most at risk for death is the elderly, ages 65 and over, who have a 20% of dieing when hit. 65 percent of crashes involve pedestrians at non-intersections.

Bottom Line

To see how common pedestrian death is in your town, check out http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/map/
Type in a city and it will show a map of nearby pedestrians who died. Click on the death icon (!) to learn more about the victim. I found the nearest to my house was an elderly man killed in 2003.

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