Battery Park City: An Opportunity for Innovative Street Design
A "woonerf" or "shared space" street design in the Dutch town of Haren.
Yesterday a Streetsblog reader reported that the Department of Transportation is removing stop signs and installing traffic signals at some intersections in Battery Park City as a way "to provide for the safest streets possible citywide." The reader noted, "The area is home to many small children and seniors, who are fighting the DOT change. My instinct is to agree, but I also know that some new thinking favors fewer traffic controls."
Andy Wiley-Schwartz, vice president and director of Project for Public Spaces' transportation program, wrote a great response in the comments section, suggesting that to create safer and more community-friendly streets, city government and community groups need to look beyond stop signs and traffic signals. Here is what he wrote:
In Battery Park City, with it's limited through-traffic and local destinations, you have a good place to try out more innovative treatments. Considering that we are talking about a street that is in between a large park and a bunch of houses, this would seem to be a great opportunity to traffic-calm through a variety of measures.
Design speed on a street like this should be incredibly slow, but here the city and BPCA are only considering changing the intersections to control driver behavior. If people are speeding in between intersections, than the street should be redesigned to move cars very slowly all along. Then the "confusion" at the stop-controlled intersections would not be a problem.
In fact, engineers in Europe are telling us that this confusion is exactly what heightens safety, because drivers and pedestrians have to negotiate with each other. Signals increase predictability through and makes drivers and pedestrians LESS conscious that they need to be looking out for each other at all.