Skip to content

Posts from the Pedestrian safety Category

7 Comments

The 111th Street Safety Project Has Changed, But Queens CB 4 Has Not

DOT's updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two-way southbound traffic flow and omit the new crosswalks included in the original plan (below). Images: DOT

DOT’s updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two southbound traffic lanes and omits marked crosswalks included in the original plan (bottom). Images: DOT

If DOT is going to implement a safer design of 111th Street in Corona, it won’t be thanks to the local community board. Despite a watered-down safety plan intended to appease opponents of DOT’s original proposal, the CB 4 transportation committee declined to vote on the plan, citing “remaining questions” about traffic on the corridor.

The city’s first plan for 111th Street, which local residents, community organizations, and Council Member Julissa Ferreras had pushed for, would have reduced the number of motor vehicle lanes, narrowed crossing distances for pedestrians, added marked crosswalks, and put a two-way protected bike lane along Flushing Meadows Corona Park. That version was opposed by Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who said 111th Street carried too much traffic during large sports events at Citi Field and the U.S Open to eliminate moving lanes.

DOT studies and video evidence suggested Moya didn’t have a leg to stand on, but in an announcement last month, the city revealed a weaker version of the redesign, saying it had won over Moya while retaining support from the original coalition. The new design retains a two-way protected bike lane and wider medians, but only eliminates one moving lane in each direction, maintaining two southbound lanes instead of one. It also does not include some marked crosswalks that were in the original plan.

Last night, DOT reps came equipped with piles of research about the traffic conditions on 111th Street, including time-lapse photos from two locations on the corridor and traffic studies of more than 30 large events in the area. Residents were also surveyed about how they get to the park and their concerns about park access.

The traffic studies concluded that there just isn’t much congestion on 111th Street, and the survey revealed that Corona residents are much more worried about speeding on 111th Street than about traffic back-ups.

But CB 4 members refused to believe the evidence.

Read more…

9 Comments

No More Stalling: DOT Redesigns Gerritsen Ave After Teen Cyclist’s Death

In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT

By next month, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian islands, and bus boarding islands. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will install a two-way protected bike lane and other traffic-calming measures on Gerritsen Avenue, the street next to Marine Park in southern Brooklyn where a drunk driver killed a teenage cyclist this summer [PDF].

On the night of July 19, Thomas Groarke, 24, overtook another driver on the left and sped into the wide painted median on Gerritsen near Gotham Avenue, then fatally struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike southbound, the Daily News reported. Three other people were injured in the crash. Groarke’s blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.

Gerritsen Avenue is a wide street with a speeding problem and a history of traffic injuries and deaths. Since 2007, there have been four fatalities on the street, according to DOT, including three in the past two years. After the deaths of Joseph Ciresi and James Miro last fall, the Times looked at the street’s reputation as a drag strip.

The city has tinkered with the design of Gerritsen Avenue before. After a motorist severely injured 12-year-old cyclist Anthony Turturro in 2004 at the same intersection where Ryan was killed, the city implemented a four-lane-to-three-lane road diet with a painted median. In 2008 and 2009, the city floated concrete pedestrian islands and painted bike lanes for Gerritsen but backed off after local residents protested the changes. The only change implemented was to narrow the medians to make room for a “wide parking lane” (instead of painted bike lanes).

Read more…

9 Comments

De Blasio Signs Right of Way and Bike Access Bills

Today's legislation ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

The new law ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

Following unanimous City Council votes earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio signed several bills yesterday with important implications for walking and biking in NYC.

Public Advocate Letitia James’ Intro 997-A, now known as Local Law 115, amends the legal definition of pedestrians’ right of way so anyone who steps off the curb during the flashing “Don’t Walk” phase has the protection of the law.

Without the legislation, district attorneys and NYPD had declined to charge many motorists who struck people in crosswalks, citing a passage in the city’s traffic rules that said “no pedestrian shall enter or cross the roadway during the flashing ‘Don’t Walk’ phase.”

“By passing this law, we are taking a common-sense step toward protecting pedestrians and making New York’s streets safer,” James said in a statement. The new rule goes into effect on December 27, 90 days after the signing.

At the same ceremony, de Blasio also signed three bills enhancing bike access to commercial and residential buildings.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

FHWA’s New Goal: Eliminating Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths in America

Pedestrian and biking safety has been lagging. Can federal officials reverse the trend? Graph: FHWA

Pedestrian and cyclist deaths account for a growing share of traffic fatalities in America. Can federal officials reverse the trend? Graph: FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration wants to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist fatalities “in the next 20 to 30 years.” In a new strategic plan [PDF], the agency calls for reducing serious injuries and deaths 80 percent in the next 15 years, which would be an intermediate goal on the way to zero.

FHWA also calls for boosting the share of short trips Americans make by biking or walking. It defines short trips as five miles or less for bicyclists and one mile or less for pedestrians. The agency’s goal is to increase the share of these trips 50 percent by 2025 compared to 2009 levels.

Now for the bad news. As admirable as these goals may be, federal transportation officials have limited power to see them through. Decisions about transportation infrastructure and street design are mainly carried out by state and local governments.

Nevertheless, the feds do have some means to influence street safety by changing design standards and using the power of persuasion. FHWA can certainly help move local decisions in the right direction. To encourage safer transportation engineering, the agency says it will ramp up its professional training and recognize states for making progress on walking and biking.

Here’s a look at some of the more promising ideas in the agency’s plan.

Promote safer streets through better design standards

One obstacle to safe streets is the widespread application of highway-style engineering strategies to local streets where people walk and bike. Wider and straighter roads might be better for cars-only environments, but they are terrible for pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Read more…

50 Comments

City Council Unanimously Passes Bill to Expand Pedestrians’ Right of Way

Today's legislation ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

Today’s legislation ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

The City Council voted to expand pedestrians’ right of way today, unanimously supporting Intro 997-A, Public Advocate Letitia James’ proposal to bolster legal protections for people in crosswalks. The legislation is expected to be enacted by the mayor, with DOT and NYPD having both endorsed it.

Public Advocate Tish James

Public Advocate Tish James

Currently, pedestrians who cross the street when signals are flashing a red hand are denied legal protections by NYC law enforcement agencies. James’s bill changes that, closing a loophole in city rules.

While the 2014 Right of Way Law made it a misdemeanor for motorists to injure a pedestrian or cyclist crossing with the right of way, district attorneys and NYPD have declined to bring cases against drivers in many cases, citing Section 4-03 of the Rules of the City of New York, which says that “no pedestrian shall enter or cross the roadway” during the flashing “Don’t Walk” phase.

Intro 997-A expands the definition of pedestrians’ right of way so anyone who steps off the curb during the “Don’t Walk” phase has the protection of the law.

The change is especially important given the rapid expansion of countdown clocks that tell pedestrians how much time is left to cross. The clocks tend to shorten the steady “Walk” phase and lengthen the flashing phase. As interpreted by city law enforcement, this effectively curtailed the legal right of way.

At a City Council hearing in April, DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo and Inspector Dennis Fulton of the NYPD Transportation Bureau endorsed the legislation. The bill would “align the law with the acknowledged reality on our streets,” Russo said.

The “out-of-date” rule on the books “defies common sense,” James said at a press conference outside City Hall just before the vote today.

Read more…

13 Comments

The Missing Piece in DOT’s Left-Turn Safety Plan: Real Split-Phase Signals

dyckmanwalk

DOT is ramping up the use of leading pedestrian intervals to reduce left-turn collisions, without committing to add signals that completely separate pedestrians and turning drivers. Photo: Brad Aaron

Split-phase traffic signals protect pedestrians and cyclists by separating them from turning drivers — people walking and biking across the street get their own signal phase, and drivers turning into the crosswalk get another. Research indicates that split-phase signals are highly effective at preventing traffic injuries and deaths. But when DOT revealed its strategy to reduce crashes caused by left-turning drivers, there was no commitment to increase the use of split-phase signals.

DOT is scaling up a similar intervention — leading pedestrian intervals, which allow pedestrians to enter intersections a few seconds before turning drivers get a green light. LPIs reduce injuries too, but not as much as split-phase signals, according to a 2014 DOT-funded study published in the journal “Accident Analysis and Prevention” [PDF].

The study analyzed crash data from 68 New York City intersections with either LPIs or split phases between 2000 and 2007, though the vast majority — 59 — had LPIs. Both types of signal adjustments performed better than a control group of intersections where turning drivers were permitted to proceed at the same time as pedestrians and cyclists. The improvement was more pronounced, however, at split-phase signals.

At intersections equipped with split-phase signals, pedestrian and cyclist injuries declined a precipitous 67 percent. At intersections with LPIs, pedestrian injuries declined 38 percent and bicyclist injuries 52 percent. (For the control group, the reduction was 25 percent for pedestrians and 44 percent for cyclists.) The data on split-phase signals was limited, however — it came from only nine intersections, with no locations in Manhattan.

Read more…

30 Comments

DOT Reveals a Flatbush Ave Pedestrian Safety Plan By Atlantic and Fourth

DOT's proposal would remove double-right turns off Atlantic Avenue. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for pedestrian islands, curb extensions, and fewer turn lanes off Atlantic Avenue. Image: DOT

Last night DOT presented its initial concept for pedestrian safety improvements near the convergence of Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues in Brooklyn [PDF].

The intersection is located at the center of Brooklyn’s largest transit hub, where the Long Island Railroad meets eight subway lines and four MTA bus routes. The Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Barclays Center are short walks away. It’s also overrun by motor vehicles, with three wide, two-way arterial roads — all truck routes — making for one the city’s most hellacious walking environments.

Pedestrians must contend with long, angled crossings and lots of turning drivers. Since 2008, four pedestrians and one cyclist have been killed in the project area, which extends along Flatbush from Lafayette Avenue to Atlantic. Between 2010 and 2014, 57 pedestrians and 21 cyclists were injured, and 51 percent of the pedestrian injuries happened while the victim was crossing with the signal, according to DOT.

At a meeting in January about public space improvements to Times Plaza, the triangle between the three big roads, attendees told DOT and Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner that safer pedestrian conditions had to be the first priority, or else no one would use the space.

Pedestrians crossing the Flatbush-Atlantic intersection must contend with some of Brooklyn's heaviest motor vehicle traffic. Photo: Google Maps

Pedestrians crossing the Flatbush-Atlantic intersection must contend with long, angled crosswalks and heavy motor vehicle traffic. Photo: Google Maps

Last night, DOT showed plans for five median pedestrian islands and several curb extensions to shorten crossing distances around Flatbush and Atlantic. The agency also proposes reducing the number of right turn lanes off Atlantic onto Flatbush from two to one. That would reduce risk for pedestrians crossing Flatbush, who would also get a head start with a leading pedestrian interval.

Read more…

7 Comments

Tonight: Speak Up for Safer Crossings at Flatbush/Atlantic/Fourth

Forest City Ratner and DOT want to turn Times Plaza by the Barclays Center into an attractive public space. Photo: Google Maps

Forest City Ratner and DOT want to turn Times Plaza by the Barclays Center into an attractive public space. Photo: Google Maps

A DOT public workshop tonight aims to get the ball rolling on safety improvements at the monstrous intersections where Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues converge.

At a meeting in January, Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner showed a proposal for benches, tables, and planters in Times Plaza — the pedestrian island in the middle of Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth. Attendees questioned the wisdom of moving forward with public space enhancements without first making it safe to walk to the plaza. Last year alone, six pedestrians and one cyclist were injured at the intersections around the plaza, according to Vision Zero View.

Since then, advocates with Transportation Alternatives’ “People First on Atlantic Avenue” campaign have pushed for safety fixes at the location. This past Saturday, TA volunteers set up a temporary public plaza to draw attention to the space’s potential and the treacherous conditions inhibiting it.

At tonight’s workshop, you can tell DOT what’s wrong with the intersections and brainstorm safety improvements. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Brooklyn YWCA, 30 Third Avenue.

28 Comments

DOT Lays Out a Strategy to Make Left Turns Less Dangerous

Left turns accounted for 30 percent of pedestrian and cyclists fatalities in 2015. Image: DOT

Motorists tend to take left turns faster than right turns, leading to a higher rate of injuries and fatalities. Image: DOT

DOT will be ramping up the use of intersection treatments to protect pedestrians and cyclists from left-turning drivers, the agency announced today. The initiative is paired with a DOT study, “Don’t Cut Corners” [PDF], that illustrates the disproportionate danger of left turns. Mayor de Blasio had announced in January that reducing the risk of left turns would be a focus of his administration’s Vision Zero agenda this year.

Drivers turning left account for 19 percent of serious pedestrian and bicyclist injuries in New York City — three times the share caused by right turns, according to the DOT report. Motorists tend to take left turns faster than right turns, a risk that is further compounded by the vehicle’s “A-pillar” (between the windshield and the driver’s door) obscuring the driver’s vision, the pressure of both oncoming traffic and traffic behind the driver, and a greater area of exposure for pedestrians.

Based on crash reports, DOT found that injuries involving left turns typically occur when the driver turns from a minor street (usually one-way) onto a street 60 feet or wider (usually two-way).

hardenedcenterlines

The posts in this “hardened centerline” prevent left-turning drivers, like the person behind the wheel of the Lay’s van, from cutting corners and taking turns too fast. Photo: David Meyer

The study also found that seniors are more likely to be injured or killed by left-turning vehicles: The average age of victims in left-turn crashes was 67, compared to 50 for victims of right-turn crashes.

Read more…

9 Comments

Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing’s streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will “deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.”

Read more…