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Posts from the "Pedestrian safety" Category

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Tonight: Speak Up for Pedestrian Safety on Deadly West End Avenue

Image: NYC DOT

Image: NYC DOT

Tonight, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 will vote on a DOT proposal to improve safety on West End Avenue, where drivers have killed two pedestrians in 2014. If you live, work, or play on the Upper West Side, your voice could put this proposal over the top.

West End Avenue serves as a thoroughfare for drivers entering and exiting the Henry Hudson Parkway. It is lined with schools and, as home to a high population of seniors, is within a DOT Safe Streets for Seniors focus area. From 2008 to 2012, 148 pedestrians and cyclists were injured in traffic crashes on West End Avenue from W. 75th Street to W. 106th Street, with 11 severe injuries, according to DOT. During that time, 168 motor vehicle occupants were injured, eight severely, which gives some indication of how fast motorists drive on the street.

DOT proposes to give West End Avenue a road diet, converting it from four through lanes to two from W. 72nd Street to W. 106th Street, and adding a flush center median with left turn lanes, with 13-foot parking lanes on both sides [PDF].

DOT would prohibit northbound left turns at W. 97th Street and southbound lefts at W. 95th Street — intersections where drivers killed Cooper Stock and Jean Chambers, respectively. Pedestrian islands would be installed in the north and south crosswalks at W. 95th and W. 97th Streets.

A southbound right turn lane would be added curbside at W. 96th Street. Parking would be removed from the west side of West End Avenue between 97th and 96th, which would improve pedestrian visibility. A current parking restriction on the south side of W. 95th Street from Riverside Drive to West End Avenue would be lifted.

No bike lanes are included in the DOT proposal.

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People in Low-Income Areas More Likely to Be Killed While Walking

Who is most at risk of being hit by a car?

Image: Governing

Pedestrian fatality rates are highest in low-income neighborhoods. Image: Governing

People on foot make up a growing proportion of people killed in traffic — 15 percent in 2012, up from 11 percent in 2007. Children, seniors, and people of color account for a disproportionate share of the victims.

So do people living in low-income areas, according to a new analysis by Governing. A review of pedestrian deaths from 2008 to 2012 revealed that the fatality rate is twice as high in America’s poorest neighborhoods as in higher-income neighborhoods.

Governing’s Mike Maciag writes that efforts to improve walkability have often been centered in downtown areas and commercial districts while poor people, priced out of those neighborhoods, are moving into less walkable suburbs:

Bridging the Gap, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conducted field research assessing a sample of street segments in 154 communities in 2010. In high-income areas, 89 percent of streets had sidewalks, while only 49 percent did in low-income areas. Marked crosswalks were found in 13 percent of high-income areas, compared to just 7 percent of streets in low-income communities. The study found similar disparities for street lighting and traffic calming devices.

To some degree, people living in poor neighborhoods may be more at risk of being hit while walking because they walk more than people who can afford cars. But low-income neighborhoods are also more burdened by the legacy of car-centric street design than affluent neighborhoods. “Historically, many could not fend off construction of highways and major arterial roadways the way wealthier communities did,” Maciag writes.

Low-income neighborhoods that struggle with high crime rates may have the added problem of what former DC and Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein has called “a broken windows effect,” whereby reckless driving and violent crime exacerbate each other. In places where violent crime rates are higher, the thinking goes, motorists are also less likely to observe the law, putting pedestrians at risk.

Add to that the evidence that drivers are less likely to slow down or stop for people of color and you have a recipe for gross inequity on our streets.

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DOT Announces New Arterial Slow Zones Across the Boroughs

On Friday, DOT announced the second round of Arterial Slow Zones, which will expand the program by 14 streets before the end of the year.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat and City Council reps Ydanis Rodriguez and Helen Rosenthal inaugurated the Broadway Arterial Slow Zone today. DOT announced on Friday that 14 additional arterials will get the slow zone treatment before the year is out. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/EspaillatNY/status/496363520024670208##@EspaillatNY##

State Senator Adriano Espaillat and City Council reps Ydanis Rodriguez and Helen Rosenthal inaugurated the Broadway Arterial Slow Zone today. DOT announced on Friday that 14 additional arterials will get the slow zone treatment before the year is out. Photo: @EspaillatNY

The first of those streets to get the slow zone treatment is Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, where as of today the speed limit is 5 miles per hour lower along a five-mile segment, from E. 161st Street to Bainbridge Avenue, according to a DOT press release.

Arterials comprise 15 percent of total NYC street mileage, but account for some 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities. With high-visibility signage, changes in signal timing, and — ostensibly — increased law enforcement, the Arterial Slow Zone program brings a focus to streets that are especially dangerous.

“In total, dangerous speeding will be reduced on more than 65 miles of major corridors that have seen 83 fatalities,” the DOT press release says.

The citywide default 25 mph speed limit is expected to be implemented by October.

Here are the other phase two streets, with the expected slow zone completion month and their respective number of pedestrian fatalities from 2008 to 2012:

  • Manhattan: Seventh Avenue from Central Park South to 11th Street, August, four fatalities
  • Brooklyn: Coney Island Avenue from Park Circle to the Boardwalk, September, six fatalities
  • Queens: Roosevelt Avenue from Queens Boulevard to 154th Street, September, five fatalities
  • Staten Island: Victory Boulevard from Bay Street to Wild Avenue, September, five fatalities
  • Brooklyn: Utica Avenue from Malcom X Boulevard to Flatbush Avenue, October, 12 fatalities
  • Brooklyn: Flatbush Avenue/Flatbush Avenue Extension from Concord Street to Hendrickson Place, October, 11 fatalities

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Eyes on the Street: Slower Speed Limits Coming to Broadway, Southern Blvd

nypd_speed_notice

A Streetsblog reader sent in this NYPD flyer posted in the lobby of his apartment building on the Upper West Side, and another reports getting the same notice via email yesterday.

The citywide 25 mph speed limit enacted by Albany this session is expected to go into effect in October. In the meantime, the de Blasio administration is moving ahead with its “Arterial Slow Zone” program, which combines 25 mph limits, safer traffic signal timing, and increased speed enforcement.

Broadway above Midtown and just about all of Southern Boulevard are next in line for the Slow Zone treatment, and it’s good to see NYPD marking the occasion with this straightforward street safety message.

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DOT Proposes Road Diet But Only 4 Ped Islands for 35 Blocks of West End Ave

After two people were killed by motorists along one stretch of West End Avenue this year, DOT promised to calm traffic on this dangerous Upper West Side street. Before a packed house of about 200 residents last night, the agency said changes will be made in two phases, finishing by next spring. The plan: A standard road diet, taking the avenue from two lanes in each direction to one, while adding a center turn lane and widening parking lanes [PDF]. The project is an improvement over the status quo, but many residents last night wanted more.

35 blocks of West End Avenue are slated for a road diet. Intersections that had pedestrian fatalities this year, like 95th Street, will receive refuge islands and turn bans. Other intersections will not. Image: DOT

DOT will install a road diet on 35 blocks of West End Avenue. Intersections where pedestrians were killed this year, like 95th Street, will get pedestrian islands and turn bans. Others will not. Image: DOT

The plan covers the 35 blocks between 72nd and 107th Streets. West End Avenue is scheduled for repaving in two phases after utility work wraps up, and the road diet will be implemented then, said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione. The segment north of 86th Street is expected to be complete by the end of this year; south of 86th will be done next spring.

Only two intersections will get pedestrian islands along these 35 blocks. There will be two islands each at the two intersections where people lost their lives this year: West 95th Street, where Jean Chambers was killed July 10, and West 97th Street, where Cooper Stock was killed six months earlier.

Left turns from West End Avenue will be banned at those two intersections, and drivers turning left from the side streets will have to navigate around the islands, slowing their turns. Both Chambers and Stock were killed by drivers making left turns from side streets.

“This portion of West End Avenue is really handling a portion of regional trips of people going to and from the Henry Hudson Parkway,” said DOT Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Josh Benson. “We really think it’s going to influence the way people make those heavy left turns.”

Last night, residents were generally supportive of the proposals while asking the city to go further. While a few people opposed pedestrian-friendly parts of the plan, citing car congestion, they were outnumbered by residents who want more to be done. “Something needs to be at the centerline of every intersection, because if not, we’re going to have a death at 99th and a death at 100th,” said 99th Street resident Chris Henry.

“The proposal looks good, but could we have these islands at 72nd?” asked Candace Burnett, who lives near 72nd and Riverside Drive. Both 72nd and 79th Streets, like the area around 96th Street, mix pedestrians with heavy car traffic going to and from the Henry Hudson Parkway.

DOT senior project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth said the agency doesn’t currently have the resources for this project to study or include more pedestrian islands, though they could be added to the plan as it gets closer to implementation.

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NYPD: No Reason to Investigate Greenway Crash That Hospitalized Cyclist

A witness to the aftermath of a Hudson River Greenway crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital says NYPD officers, including personnel from the Collision Investigation Squad, said they did not intend to investigate the cause of the collision, explaining to bystanders that it was an “accident” while blaming the cyclist.

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

Just after 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, July 24, a NY Waterways bus driver and a cyclist collided at the greenway and W. 40th Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. Responders transported the cyclist to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, FDNY said.

Reader Hilda Cohen, who alerted Streetsblog to the crash, asked officers at the scene if they would impound the bike as evidence. ”Why would we investigate?” an officer said, according to Cohen. “This was clearly an accident.” Cohen told Streetsblog the officer who made those comments was with the Collision Investigation Squad.

While “accident” implies no one was at fault, Cohen said police also preemptively blamed the cyclist. In the comments on our post last week, Cohen wrote: “The attitude was nightmarish, with comments like: ‘A bus isn’t gonna yield to anyone,’ [and] ‘The only reason this happened is because that guy was going too fast on his bike.’” NYPD also told Cohen the cyclist “hit the bus” before he was “dragged under the front wheel.”

The dismissiveness on the part of NYPD in this case is alarming for many reasons. For one thing, had they conducted an investigation, officers might have spoken with cyclists about the conflict between greenway users and turning drivers at the intersection where the crash occurred.

Cohen told Streetsblog via email that she spoke with cyclists, as well as police, at the scene. ”There was really a lot of talk about who was at fault, and sadly the majority figured the cyclist was at fault simply because it was a bus,” she said. “The fact is it is a bad design. Turning vehicles should yield to the path users — it is quite blatant — but the comments from the NYPD were excusing the driver, because it was a bus.”

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AARP: Older NYC Pedestrians Concerned About Drivers Failing to Yield

Four out of 10 New York City voters age 50 and older consider motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians a serious problem, and one in four say traffic signals don’t allow enough time to cross the street, according to a poll by AARP.

Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians are a major problem. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3275748024/in/photolist-5Zt4Ld-dFcMWT-6q5iaQ-92igFP-6Hm3eQ-6b8ndc-6bcvWj-6bcw7f-8rRi4-5pNDRz-7amntd-5pSX41-5pSX5C-aB9UGE-9rYm1g-9rYkwB-9s2jgL-9rYkga-9rYmBr-9s2iU3-9s2hVL-9rYk9K-9s2hH3-9s2i2W-9s2k3S-9s2jQo-9rYn74-9s2jUb-9rYmWH-9rYmuR-9rYknK-9rYmn8-9s2jHm-9s2j5m-9s2aUb-9s2jM5-7aCU1j-hW1dK-7bshZ7-518C71-kSWWt-7ajcDV-4rkx5x-9s2hob-9rYmyB-9s2ik7-gyChfz-4ua1XN-caW7cJ-9TqDDm##Ed Yourdon/Flickr##

Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say they consider drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians a major problem. Photo: Ed Yourdon/Flickr

As part of its 2013 voter survey, AARP asked a series of questions related to transportation and street safety. The results were released Tuesday. Of all respondents across the boroughs, 40 percent said drivers not yielding to pedestrians is a “major problem.” Twenty-eight percent said traffic lights are timed too fast for pedestrians to cross safely.

Staten Island residents were most concerned about failure to yield (45 percent), followed by respondents in Queens (42 percent), the Bronx (40 percent), Brooklyn (40 percent), and Manhattan (34 percent). More Staten Islanders also cited short pedestrian signals as a major problem (35 percent), followed by residents of Queens (30 percent), the Bronx (29 percent), Brooklyn (28 percent), and Manhattan (21 percent).

The survey further categorized responses by race. From an AARP press release: “When it comes to the timing of traffic lights, more Hispanics cite them being too fast for safe crossing as a major concern, followed by Asians and African Americans. Concern about cars not yielding to pedestrians is again highest among Hispanics, followed by African Americans and Asians.”

The survey was conducted before the advent of Vision Zero. AARP praised Mayor de Blasio for prioritizing street safety.

“Our city streets can be a rough place for pedestrians, especially those 50 and older. Being struck by a vehicle is the second leading cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers,” said Beth Finkel, director for AARP in New York State, in the press release. “AARP commends Mayor de Blasio’s focus on addressing this issue and for working to make New York City’s streets safer for pedestrians of all ages.”

The pedestrian fatality rate for people age 60 and older in the tri-state region is nearly three times the rate for residents under 60, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. TSTC’s 2013 “Older Pedestrians At Risk” report found that older NYC pedestrians suffer disproportionately from traffic violence.

Crash data compiled by Streetsblog show that drivers have killed at least 27 pedestrians age 50 and older in 2014, compared to 29 fatalities during the same time period last year.

The complete AARP survey is here.

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How a Non-Profit Housing Developer Brought Safer Streets to the South Bronx

southern_after

The sidewalk between the subway stairs and stanchions at this Southern Boulevard street corner used to be a traffic lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

When the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation, known as WHEDco, was founded in 1992, the dark days of arson and abandonment in the South Bronx were still fresh in people’s minds. The organization set out to build new housing in a devastated neighborhood — and decided to take a broader view of community development by also looking at employment, nutrition, crime, and education. When WHEDco’s latest development, Intervale Green, opened in Crotona East in 2009, its residents identified another major need: safer streets.

Intervale Green has 128 apartments for low-income residents, including 39 for families leaving the city’s homeless shelters. WHEDco surveyed 450 nearby residents soon after Intervale Green opened to get a better sense of the neighborhood’s needs.

Kerry McLean, WHEDco’s director of community development, said traffic safety and crime came up as major concerns. Residents saw the elevated train above Southern Boulevard as a blight, with peeling paint and not enough lights at night. Cars were speeding, and residents did not feel safe walking home from the train.

southern_before

The same street corner before the changes, when bus riders waited on the asphalt. Photo: Google Maps

In 2009, WHEDco organized a meeting with residents, Community Board 3, the 42nd Precinct, and DOT to see what could be done. “Much to our amazement, they came,” McLean said. “Community members actually felt like there was somebody who was listening to them who could make change.”

“We had all our meetings in the Intervale Green building, so we worked with them on this,” said DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner Constance Moran. ”They helped us scope out the islands, and the trees, and the benches, and all of that.”

“People were surprised because it was one of the first times in a long time they felt that their voices were going to be heard,” McLean said. “The Department of Transportation was not looking at streetscape issues in this neighborhood at all before we engaged them.”

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Seeking Safer Routes to Walk and Bike Across the Harlem River

Harlem residents point out how to improve safety on streets near the Harlem River Bridges on Saturday. From left: Abena Smith, president of the 32nd Precinct community council; community council vice president Sherri Culpepper; Louis Bailey of WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Tom DeVito of Transportation Alternatives; and Maria Barry, chair of Manhattan Community Board 10's Vision Zero task force. Photo: Stephen Miller

From left: Abena Smith, president of the 32nd Precinct community council; community council vice president Sherri Culpepper; Louis Bailey of WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Tom DeVito of Transportation Alternatives; and Maria Garcia, chair of Manhattan Community Board 10′s Vision Zero task force. Photo: Stephen Miller

Have you ever tried biking or walking across the Harlem River? Despite a plethora of bridges, walkers and bikers often face crossings and approaches that are confusing or downright hostile. A new campaign from Transportation Alternatives and local residents aims to focus DOT’s attention on making it safer for New Yorkers to get between the two boroughs under their own power.

There are 11 bridges connecting Manhattan and the Bronx, including the High Bridge. Nine currently have paths for pedestrians, though most are narrow, and cyclists are allowed to ride on only two of them. New Yorkers walking or biking on either side of the bridges have an even tougher time, penned in by the car-clogged Harlem River Drive and the Major Deegan Expressway. Nearby bike lanes are a hodgepodge with few clear, safe routes leading to the bridges.

On the East River, the city has built out bike routes on bridges and nearby streets, and bike ridership is climbing year after year. Organizers of the new campaign say it’s time for the Harlem River bridges to get the same attention to safety, and on Saturday they gathered for the first of three summer “street scans” to identify places where streets could be safer and easier to navigate.

“I’ve been saying for years that there should be bike lanes in Harlem, and there were none past 110th Street for many years,” said Sherri Culpepper, vice president of the 32nd Precinct community council.

It’s not just about biking for Culpepper, who also walks and drives in her neighborhood. She learned of Saturday’s event from the Manhattan Community Board 10 Vision Zero task force. “I was happy to see that there is an initiative to make the streets safer. Because we have kids that walk to the park by themselves; they go to the community rec centers,” she said. ”Drivers are just driving too fast in the community.”

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Crashes Highlight the Hell’s Kitchen Bus Crunch

Last Monday, a left-turning coach bus driver struck two Spanish tourists in the crosswalk at 47th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan, sending them to the hospital with critical injuries. On Thursday, another bus driver crashed into scaffolding a few blocks away, causing minor injuries to passengers. The local community board chair says that without adequate bus facilities, neighborhood streets are getting overwhelmed.

The topic came up at a hearing last week where regional transportation leaders weighed New York’s big transit challenges, but only piecemeal solutions seem to be in the works at this time.

The bus driver in last Monday’s crash, 37-year-old Richard Williams, rolled over the leg of 62-year-old Maria Bagona and critically injured Maria Aranzazu Madariaga-Fernandez, 50 in the crosswalk. The women, relatives visiting New York from Spain, had planned to return home on Tuesday but were hospitalized.

The Post reported that the turning driver had a green light, neglecting to mention that the pedestrians would have also had a walk signal. In an interview from the hospital with the Daily News, the women set the record straight. “We were waiting to cross,” said Madariaga-Fernandez. “When the light turned, we started to cross. Suddenly, there was a bus… and it hit us.”

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