J'lem’s most dangerous street: Hebron Road

The National Road Safety Authority report finds accidents happened at a rate of nearly once a week in 2011.

Jerusalem's Hebron Road 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem's Hebron Road 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hebron Road is the most dangerous road in Jerusalem for traffic accidents, according to a recently released survey from the National Road Safety Authority. During 2011, there were 47 accidents on the road itself and intersections along the busy thoroughfare – a rate of nearly one a week. Most of the accidents were minor, though one person was killed last year.
The next most dangerous street was the Golda Meir Highway, with 41 accidents in 2011 but no fatalities. The report examined types of accidents and their locations in an effort to determine ways to improve road safety in the capital. In total, there were 1,052 road accidents in Jerusalem last year, with 12 fatalities and 135 serious injuries.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, which also measures traffic accidents, nationally there were 27,141 accidents in 2011, with 341 fatalities.
Other dangerous roads in Jerusalem include the major highways – Begin (23 accidents) and the Ma’aleh Adumim Route (16 accidents) – as well as major thoroughfares in Arab neighborhoods such as Beit Hanina (14 accidents).
Agrippas Street, next to the Mahaneh Yehuda market, which has perhaps the worst reputation for traffic and danger to pedestrians, ranked as the seventh most-dangerous road in 2011, with 12 accidents. However, in the three years preceding the closure of Jaffa Road for the light rail, when Agrippas did not handle so much traffic, there was an average of just two accidents per year.
But Hebron Road holds the distinction of being the most dangerous road for pedestrians. “From my apartment balcony, you can hear people slam on their brakes,” says Mia Lazarus, a 24-year-old engineer who lives on Hebron Road. “We’re right next to a traffic light, and you can hear the screeches of cars not stopping in time. I don’t actually see that many accidents, but I hear things that sound like accidents a lot.”
Lazarus says that the lack of shoulders on the road creates a big problem, as people leave their cars in the lane while they dash into a convenience store to make quick purchases. Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan spokesman Shmuel Elgrabli notes that the road’s organization as a mixed-use thoroughfare, with commercial and residential space on a major artery, is the reason it is considered the most dangerous. “It’s an urban road and also an intercity road,” he says.
Hebron Road is also about three times the length of an average Jerusalem street, adding to the high rate of accidents along the road, he says.
Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who holds the environmental and urban planning portfolios, says she was not surprised by Hebron Road’s receiving the dubious distinction of most dangerous road in Jerusalem.
“I don’t have a car, and I feel unsafe crossing Hebron Road,” she says. “We need to sit down and think about these things and what kind of crossings make people feel safer.”
Tsur is involved with measures to increase road safety on Hanevi’im Street in downtown Jerusalem, which includes installing speed bumps and widening the sidewalks. She says the most important way to make the road safer for pedestrians is to change public perception. “There needs to be a feeling of more respect for the pedestrians, and less prominence to the traffic itself,” she says. •