Brooklyn Boro

Adams focuses on dangerous intersections in pedestrian safety plan

Traffic-calming measures, also new crosswalk rule

January 20, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
The pedestrian crosswalk from Fulton Street to Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Municipal Building at 5:40 p.m. The street usually hosts crowds of people.
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Mayor Eric Adams, Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell on Wednesday announced a new plan to improve pedestrian safety at intersections. 

With intersections the leading site of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, DOT plans to design improvements to make 1,000 intersections safer with upgraded traffic signals, raised crosswalks, and other expanded pedestrian space and visibility measures. 

Empowered by a new traffic rule protecting pedestrians that took effect the same day, the NYPD will immediately begin expanded enforcement against drivers who fail to recognize the primacy of pedestrians in crosswalks. 

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Intersections pose a special safety challenge in New York City, where crashes at intersections typically comprise 50 percent of all fatalities and 70 percent of all injuries. For pedestrians, the dangers are more pronounced: 55 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 79 percent of pedestrian traffic injuries occur at intersections. 

“After the tragedy of 2021, when traffic fatalities in New York City reached their highest level in nearly a decade, we clearly need to turbo-charge Vision Zero — and fast,” said Adams. “I thank my two commissioners for putting this early focus on enforcement and design within intersections, where we have the tools that can and will save lives.” 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

“Thanks to Mayor Adams’ leadership, we are taking these early actions to save lives,” said Rodriguez. “As we take a new approach to Vision Zero, we know intersections are where pedestrians and cyclists face the greatest dangers — and so we can and will make hundreds of crosswalks safer with a range of treatments, both new ones and more of those that we know work.”

“Ensuring the safety of New York City streets and all who use them is paramount, and this new plan is critical to the NYPD’s important work with its city partners,” said Sewell. “The NYPD continues to be relentless in enforcing the laws, including this new rule that protects pedestrians crossing city intersections.”

Ydanis Rodriguez, seen at a rally last year. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

DOT announced that in 2022 it would undertake new and expanded efforts focused on intersection design at 1,000 locations, including: 

  • Increased focus on intersections in Street Improvement Projects: DOT will use its full toolkit of street design treatments as redesigns happen, focused on Vision Zero priority geographies, locations where fatalities and serious injuries have occurred, and Priority Investment Areas as detailed in the NYC Streets Plan. These changes include new turn signals and “head-starts” that allow pedestrians to enter the intersection before vehicles can turn.
  • Raised crosswalks: DOT will begin a program to construct 100 raised crosswalks at curb level annually. Raised crosswalks serve a dual purpose of increasing accessibility for the disability community, while at the same time serving as speed bumps that slow drivers. This work will be done primarily via a new contract with the New York City Department of Design and Construction.
  • Bike corrals at intersections: DOT will “daylight” at least 100 intersections with bike corrals this year, as part of its planned installation of more than 10,000 bicycle racks by the end of 2022. Bike corrals at intersections help provide visibility for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, while preventing drivers from cutting corners and turning too quickly.
  • Parking lot and gas station traffic-calming: Curb cuts at high-traffic locations like parking lots and gas stations, often at intersections, can create danger as drivers cut across sidewalks unpredictably — a particular concern for vulnerable student and senior pedestrians. DOT efforts will target dozens of problem locations, largely outside Manhattan, reducing driver “shortcuts” and better channeling vehicle traffic to increase visibility and predictability.
  • Doubling the Turn-Calming Program: Research has shown that drivers take turns more slowly and deliberately when physical elements are in place to force turns at more appropriate speeds. DOT will double the production of such efforts to 100 intersections this year.

The NYPD will strongly enforce failure-to-yield (FTY), a violation that especially endangers pedestrians and cyclists at intersections, with a goal of doubling 2021 FTY enforcement efforts.

While enforcement will be at intersections citywide, officers will also be empowered by a new traffic rule that specifies that drivers and cyclists passing through such intersections must not simply yield but fully stop until a pedestrian has completely crossed the street

“Street safety is of paramount importance and redesigning our intersections will save lives,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope-Windsor Terrace-Kensington). “I commend Mayor Adams and Transportation Commissioner Rodriguez for coming out of the gate intent on addressing these important safety issues early in their administration. I look forward to partnering on future improvements to make our streets safer.”  

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