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Denny Farrell at Uptown Ped Safety Meeting: “I Drive Everywhere”
Posted By Stephen Miller On August 27, 2013 @ 3:01 pm In Denny Farrell,DOT,Pedestrian Infrastructure,Pedestrian safety,Robert Jackson,Washington Heights | 18 Comments
The intersection of 155th Street, Edgecombe Avenue, St. Nicholas Place, and Harlem River Driveway is a busy, complex web where pedestrians jockey with turning drivers to cross wide expanses of asphalt. DOT began studying the location after a request from Council Member Robert Jackson. A final design and community board review is months away, but at a meeting two weeks ago, DOT outlined some suggested fixes. Another notable development at the meeting: The Assembly member representing the area — Herman “Denny” Farrell, the powerful chair of the Ways and Means Committee — declared that he drives everywhere in his transit-dependent district.
Crash statistics for the intersection are relatively good, compared to other major intersections in the area. “Surprisingly, for the craziness of this intersection, these numbers are pretty low,” said DOT’s Kelly Yemen. However, 26 percent of crashes involve left-turning drivers, far higher than the Manhattan average of 10 percent. “It’s just a very wide-open intersection,” she told the audience of about 20 people.
“Not surprisingly, it’s failing. We can make it fail a little bit less,” said Sean Quinn of DOT’s pedestrian projects group.
DOT has not released a copy of the presentation at that meeting or its current proposal for the intersection, despite multiple requests from Streetsblog. As explained at the meeting, the plan includes three major changes to the intersection’s layout:
The proposal received a generally positive reaction from the audience, with Bernadette McNear, president of the Rangel Houses Resident Association, and Barbara Williams, president of the Polo Grounds Towers Resident Association, telling DOT that many of the proposals would make it safer for people going to and from the bus stops on 155th Street.
Most of the meeting’s question and answer session was dominated by Farrell, who represents a district where, according to 2009 Census data, 74 percent of households do not own a car . Farrell began with a simple statement about how he gets around the neighborhood. “I drive everywhere,” he said.
In fairness to Farrell, who came to embody the complete disconnect between state legislators and their transit-riding constituents  during the fight over congestion pricing in Albany, his windshield perspective didn’t seem to lead him to oppose this project. Noting that the intersection handles a lot of through traffic between the Bronx and the rest of Manhattan, Farrell said that he is often worried about pedestrians when he drives through the intersection from Midtown.
Farrell also asked about possible adjustments to signal timing for drivers, explaining to DOT staffers that it can take a long time for drivers to begin moving after a light turns green. DOT staff said that because the intersection handles a high volume of traffic and has five legs instead of the typical four, there was little room for major changes to traffic lights, such as a dedicated or delayed left-turn signals.
The project can be implemented in phases, starting with flexible barriers to restrict turns and channelize traffic. Other components, such as concrete pedestrian islands, would take longer. DOT staff declined to provide a timeline at the meeting.
The intersection lies at the juncture of Community Boards 9, 10, and 12, and DOT is looking to make adjustments to the plan over the coming months before presenting it to the boards.
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URL to article: http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/08/27/assembly-member-farrell-gives-windshield-perspective-on-uptown-ped-safety/
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 Bing Maps: http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=qt4jdc8v4gdz&lvl=18.27&dir=269.97&sty=u&form=LMLTCC
 74 percent of households do not own a car: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/04/06/new-yorks-car-ownership-rate-is-on-the-rise/
 complete disconnect between state legislators and their transit-riding constituents: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/05/15/revenge-of-the-free-riders/
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