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Posts from the Pedestrian safety Category

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Bratton Won’t Stop Talking About Removing Times Square Plazas

It wasn’t just an offhand remark. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has reiterated his desire to eliminate the public plazas at Times Square and go back to the days when people were spilling off the sidewalk into the path of traffic. This time, he’s insisting that taking away space for people won’t just cure Times Square of topless women and costumed characters — it’ll actually improve traffic safety.

He's the Energizer bunny of car-centric thinking. Photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

He’s the Energizer bunny of windshield perspective. Photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

The year after the plazas were installed, pedestrian injuries fell 40 percent at Times Square, and injuries to car drivers and passengers dropped 63 percent along Broadway in Midtown, according to a 2010 DOT report [PDF]. At the same time, pedestrian volumes in Times Square increased 11 percent after the plaza opened.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal crunched the numbers and found that total traffic injuries in Times Square have fallen nearly 25 percent in the five years since the redesign compared to the five previous years. Times Square is safer now than it was before the plazas were installed.

Not so, says Bratton.

“That story was really, very inappropriate in its findings. It took a look at Seventh Avenue and Broadway. It didn’t look at the cross streets, it didn’t look at the larger Times Square area,” he said on WGTK-AM 970, reports Politico. “When you look at the larger Times Square area, actually, accidents have gone up. So, all the traffic that has been pushed into the side street… it tells a very different story.”

Whatever stats Bratton is referring to, they clearly don’t account for the huge growth in foot traffic to Times Square since the plazas arrived. Even if injuries haven’t declined — and all indications are that they have — with all the added people walking in Times Square now, the average person is clearly safer from traffic.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Sheepshead Bay Woman in Crosswalk

The red arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the white arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

The white arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

NYPD has not filed charges against the driver who killed a Sheepshead Bay woman in the crosswalk just blocks from her home yesterday afternoon.

Carol Carboni, 52, was crossing Nostrand Avenue from west to east at 3:35 p.m. yesterday when the driver of a 2013 Infiniti sedan, making a left turn from eastbound Avenue Z to northbound Nostrand, struck the rear right side of her mobility scooter with his front passenger-side bumper. Carboni fell off the scooter and suffered severe head trauma, NYPD said. She was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

This case seems to be a likely candidate for Right of Way charges against the driver. The fact that Carboni was in the crosswalk and the driver was making a left turn at the same time indicate that Carboni likely had the right of way.

NYPD told Streetsblog this morning that it did not have information available about what the traffic signals indicated or who had the right of way at the time of the crash. The Collision Investigation Squad continues to investigate the crash, NYPD said, and no charges have been filed against the 33-year-old Brooklyn resident who was behind the wheel.

In the year since the Right of Way Law took effect, NYPD has rarely charged drivers who strike pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way.

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Eyes on the Street: Clinton Street’s New Bikeway

The bikeway isn't complete yet, but it's already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

The bikeway isn’t complete yet, but it’s already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

A new two-way bikeway is under construction to provide a connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River Greenway.

The route along Clinton Street extends the existing two-way protected bike lane between Delancey and Grand an additional five blocks to South Street, where it connects to the waterfront bike path beneath the FDR Drive.

The waterfront greenway, which runs along South Street, will also be getting an upgrade: concrete barriers to protect greenway users from cars and trucks. DOT says the installation schedule for this component of the project is still being determined.

Cinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

Clinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

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Atlantic and Washington Gets Fixes, Now What About the Rest of Atlantic?

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo talks about the latest changes to the intersection of Atlantic, Washington and Underhill avenues. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo talks about the latest changes to the intersection of Atlantic, Washington and Underhill. Photo: Stephen Miller

The multi-leg intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Underhill Avenue has received its second round of street safety improvements in four years. Adding to a 2011 project that expanded pedestrian space, this latest set of changes includes new turn restrictions, crosswalks, and larger median islands [PDF]. Advocates welcomed the changes, but want DOT to think bigger when it comes to overhauling Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous arterial streets.

The intersection has two new crosswalks and larger sidewalks and medians, among other changes. Image: DOT [PDF]

The intersection has two new crosswalks and larger sidewalks and medians, among other changes. Image: DOT [PDF]

When Atlantic was named the city’s first Arterial Slow Zone last year, DOT noted there were 25 fatalities along its 7.6-mile length, including 10 pedestrians, from 2008 to 2012. The area near the intersection with Washington and Underhill had 99 injuries, including two severe injuries, from 2009 to 2013.

In 2011, DOT added pedestrian space along the edge of Lowry Triangle, a pocket park between Washington and Underhill, and banned left turns from eastbound Atlantic. That project also included a road diet and bike lanes on Washington Avenue [PDF].

After the project was implemented, total crashes decreased 31 percent and pedestrian injuries fell 44 percent along Washington between Lincoln Place and Dean Street — but the intersection with Atlantic remained a danger zone.

This latest redesign is focused solely on the intersection. The median on the west side of the intersection has been lengthened, reducing potential conflicts between turning drivers and pedestrians while providing a direct crosswalk for people walking between the triangle and the north side of Atlantic. Other sidewalk extensions and crosswalks reduce crossing distances and provide more direct routes for pedestrians.

The only legal way for drivers to access Underhill now is to turn right from eastbound Atlantic, though plenty of drivers were ignoring the new rules this morning. Drivers turning left from Washington onto westbound Atlantic now wait at a red arrow while pedestrians cross, until getting a flashing yellow arrow indicating they can turn with caution. Pedestrians also have eight additional seconds to cross the intersection.

“This left turn arrow is a huge help,” said John Longo, a local restaurant owner who was injured while walking across the intersection by a turning driver in December 2013.

“I think everyone feels scared crossing a major thoroughfare,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who represents the area near Atlantic and Washington. “So anything we can do to make it smaller, to shorten the crossing distances, that’s good.”

But what about the rest of Atlantic Avenue?

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It’s de Blasio and Bratton vs. the World on Times Square Plazas

Let’s start with some basic facts: Most people like Times Square better now that it has more room for people. Gone are the days when the sidewalks were so meager that you had no choice but to walk in traffic. After Broadway went car-free through Times Square in 2009, pedestrian injuries plummeted 40 percent. Retail rents soared. And yet, going against just about everyone else who has something to say about it, Mayor Bill de Blasio is entertaining the idea of eliminating the plazas.

The mayor and his police commissioner aren't sold on this whole "streets for people, not cars" thing. Photo: Mayor's Office/Flickr

The mayor and his police commissioner aren’t sold on this whole “streets for people, not cars” thing. Photo: Mayor’s Office/Flickr

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton started things off when he said he’d like to remove the plazas to curb topless women and people in cartoon costumes hustling for tips in Times Square. “I’d prefer to just dig the whole darn thing up and put it back the way it was, where Broadway is Broadway and not a dead-end street,” Bratton told 1010 WINS.

Asked about Bratton’s comments, de Blasio didn’t reject the idea. “Commisssioner Bratton and I have talked about that option… That’s a very big endeavor, and like every other option comes with pros and cons,” he said. “So we’re going to look at what those pros and cons would be. You could argue that those plazas have had some very positive impacts. You could also argue they come with a lot of problems.”

Tearing out the plazas would, among other things, run directly counter to de Blasio’s Vision Zero street safety goals. After the plazas were installed, pedestrian injuries fell 40 percent at Times Square, and injuries to car drivers and passengers dropped 63 percent along Broadway in Midtown, according to a 2010 DOT report [PDF]. The incidence of people walking in the roadway at Times Square fell 80 percent.

“People forget just how disastrous it was. There was clearly no room to walk and people were just forced into the street,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said by phone. “Times Square rivaled Queens Boulevard as the most dangerous location in the city.”

“To suggest that cars and trucks be reintroduced into the most pedestrian-rich intersection in North America is just unbelievable,” White added. “It betrays just a fundamental misunderstanding of traffic safety, and I think it’s very worrisome for the future of Vision Zero that relatively minor challenges having to do with hustlers and hucksters in Times Square is enough to go back to the bad old days when Times Square was deadly.”

The reaction to Bratton and de Blasio’s trial balloon from politicians and leaders in the local business community was fast and furious:

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Eyes on the Street: Seventh Avenue Gets a Bit More Pedestrian Space

Pedestrians have a bit more breathing room, and a head start on turning drivers, at Seventh Avenue South and W. 4th Street.

Pedestrians have a bit more breathing room, and a head start on turning drivers — but not a full plaza as initially proposed — at Seventh Avenue South and W. 4th Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Pedestrians have a little more room to navigate the complex intersection of Seventh Avenue South and W. 4th Street in the West Village.

The intersection now has a dedicated left turn lane for drivers going from Seventh Avenue South to W. 4th Street. The traffic signal gives pedestrians a head start and holds turning traffic before giving drivers a flashing yellow arrow indicating that they can proceed after yielding to people in the crosswalk [PDF].

The plan adds pedestrian space, but less than an earlier version that would have created a plaza on one block of W. 4th Street. Image: DOT [PDF]

The plan adds pedestrian space, but less than an earlier version that featured a plaza on a block of W. 4th Street. Image: DOT [PDF]

Curb extensions are also being painted at six corners near the intersection, shortening crossing distances for pedestrians. The largest is on Seventh Avenue South between Christopher and Grove streets, providing more space for pedestrians at the entrance to the Christopher Street subway station.

The Seventh Avenue South Alliance has signed on as a maintenance partner for the space, DOT said. Completion is set for late fall.

DOT had initially proposed creating a full-size plaza on W. 4th Street between Christopher and Grove streets, but CB 2 members objected over fears it would inhibit truck deliveries and increase traffic on other side streets. The department then proposed the turn lane option instead.

The intersection is just north of where Seventh Avenue South crosses Bleecker Street. DOT added a similar treatment there in 2012, including a dedicated turn lane and leading pedestrian interval followed by a flashing yellow arrow for turning drivers [PDF].

Last year, CB 2 asked DOT to study a complete streets treatment for the length of Seventh Avenue South, including a protected bike lane. DOT has yet to propose a protected bike lane for Seventh Avenue South.

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Denny Farrell Says We Got His Street Safety Rant Wrong; Here’s the Audio

Assembly Member Denny Farrell, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, played a key role in the death of congestion pricing. More recently, he’s been a regular at Upper Manhattan community board meetings, where he inveighs against traffic safety projects. Now, he’s spending his time writing letters to bloggers.

Assembly Member Herman "Denny" Farrell, chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Photo: NY Assembly

Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell, chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Photo: NY Assembly

Last month, Farrell attended a Community Board 9 transportation committee meeting where DOT presented its plan for a road diet on Broadway between 135th and 153rd streets. Most of the audience, including Council Member Mark Levine and Captain Michael Baker, commanding officer of the 30th Precinct, were receptive to the proposal.

Nevertheless, Farrell objected to the plan’s fundamental component, which would reduce the number of car lanes from three to two in each direction. DOT says traffic volumes on Broadway are low enough, even during the busiest hours, to be accommodated in two lanes. The right lane on this section of Broadway is regularly blocked by trucks making deliveries, which would use expanded curbside loading zones under DOT’s plan.

Farrell wrote a letter to Streetsblog objecting to coverage of his remarks at the meeting. He posted the text of the letter to his website, and sent a copy on Assembly letterhead to Streetsblog [PDF]:

Dear Mr. Miller,

I am writing in response to your July 10 article, “Will CB 9 Take Its Cues From a Denny Farrell Rant Against a Safer Broadway?” [link added] about a Community Board 9 meeting held Thursday, July 9.

First, I will concede that I may have been wrong or misspoken about the relative safety of Florida’s roads and highways and their success in reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities. I will admit that I have never taken the time to study Florida’s safety statistics in any great detail. But I have been there, and seen how Florida traffic is routed to left- and right-turn lanes that allow traffic to flow while, apparently, protecting pedestrians.

However, in reading your article, it seems that you may have misheard my “rant” during the meeting, as I certainly do not recall making several of the statements you attributed to me.

And I must challenge your mocking tone in reporting my statement that bicycles are dangerous. Your article omitted my statements about bicycles being silent, and my complaints that bicycles should continually make a warning noise to alert pedestrians when a bicyclist is approaching.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed 66 Year-Old Man on Atlantic Avenue

The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck outside the crosswalk by a driver going westbound on Atlantic, on the

The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck by a driver going east on Atlantic. Eastbound traffic is heading away from the camera. Photo: Google Maps

Update [Wednesday, August 12]: The victim has been identified as Muyassar Moustapha, 66.

A driver struck and killed a local store owner on Atlantic Avenue last night. NYPD says the pedestrian was at fault for crossing outside the crosswalk and against the light, and the driver faces no charges.

Police have not released the victim’s name pending family notification, but a friend told the Daily News that the 66-year-old man is one of the longtime owners of Oriental Pastry and Grocery on Atlantic Avenue. He had just left the Key Food on the northeast corner of Atlantic and Clinton and was crossing to the south side of the street when he was struck at 8:24 p.m.

“That car threw his body maybe 20 feet in the air. He hit him at full impact,” a witness told the Daily News. “The guy lost so much blood. There was nothing anyone could do.” Police say he was rushed to Brooklyn Hospital Center, where he died of his injuries.

“It appears the vehicle had the green light,” an NYPD spokesperson said, adding that the victim was “outside of the crosswalk” when he was struck by a 26-year-old driver in a Mercedes C300 on eastbound Atlantic. The driver does not currently face any charges, though the case remains under investigation by NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.

NYPD did not provide more detail, such as whether the driver was speeding or distracted before he crashed into the pedestrian. “We’ll have to wait for the CIS team to come back with a full report,” the spokesperson said.

The intersection with Clinton Street received leading pedestrian intervals, which give walkers a head start on turning drivers, in 2001 [PDF]. Atlantic Avenue became the city’s first 25 mph “arterial slow zone” last year. In January, it was named a Vision Zero priority corridor.

DOT has installed traffic calming measures near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a few blocks west of yesterday’s crash site. Last year, Community Board 2 and the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District asked for additional fixes covering Clinton and other intersections between Flatbush Avenue and the BQE. The BID says Atlantic has received additional LPIs, but DOT has not added the requested curb extensions or shared-lane bicycle markings.

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James and Lancman Push for Driver Alert Tech on City Vehicles

A new City Council bill would require crash avoidance technology on at least 100 city-owned vehicles that alerts drivers before a collision occurs, and potentially applies brakes to prevent a crash.

The legislation, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Rory Lancman, would require a one-year pilot program on 100 vehicles in the city’s 28,000-car fleet, followed by a study on its cost and effectiveness at reducing crashes.

The technology includes cameras for improved driver visibility or warnings to drivers of pedestrians or cyclists in their blind spots. It can also alert drivers and apply emergency braking in advance of potential rear-end collisions, which comprise almost one in three crashes in the city fleet that result in injury.

There are 85,000 government employees with access to city-owned vehicles. Last year, non-NYPD drivers were involved in 5,805 collisions resulting in 584 injuries, including 49 crashes that injured pedestrians and 15 that injured bicyclists.

“Everyday New Yorkers are still at too high a risk of being killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle,” James said in a press release. “Every year, there are thousands of collisions involving City drivers that end up costing lives and millions of dollars. We must examine every possible avenue to reduce crashes, which is why we must examine and test collision avoidance technology that could help save lives and taxpayer money.”

During fiscal years 2007 through 2014, there were 1,213 pedestrian personal injury claims filed against the city, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. Taxpayers shelled out $88,134,915 during that period for pedestrian injury cases.

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Construction Begins on First Phase of Transforming Queens Blvd

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

The redesign of Queens Boulevard, long one of New York’s most notorious death traps, is underway.

“Queens Boulevard is tragically legendary. We all became used to the phrase ‘the Boulevard of Death,’” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference this morning marking the start of construction. “That is a phrase we want to banish from the lexicon. So work has begun. Work has begun to remake Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life.”

The first phase of the project includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and expanded pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The first phase includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and more pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The redesign [PDF], which builds upon changes made more than a decade ago, adds protected bike lanes, expands pedestrian space, and redesigns ramps to reduce speeds on the boulevard, which has claimed the lives of 185 New Yorkers since 1990. “The actions that are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard should have been taken long ago,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to change the whole configuration of Queens Boulevard to make traffic move more slowly and more smoothly.”

Lizi Rahman’s son Asif was killed while bicycling home from work on Queens Boulevard in 2008. She was the first person to speak at today’s press conference. “After his death, when I visited the site, I was shocked to see that there was no bike lane on Queens Boulevard. And I couldn’t help thinking if there was a bike lane, my son would still be alive,” she said. In the years after Asif’s death, Lizi kept asking officials for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard. “There were times when I was discouraged,” she said. “I almost gave up.”

“A lot of times change doesn’t happen because there isn’t enough willingness to challenge the status quo, to challenge bureaucracies,” de Blasio said. “It’s unacceptable to have any street known as the Boulevard of Death.”

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