January/February 1996, p.6
Reclaiming the Streets
Your mother is a pedestrian. So slow down, okay?
Special thanks to Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger for running this and several other messages on the backs of buses that travel through the city's most dangerous intersections. Messinger's campaign tells drivers to slow down and take responsibility for their one-ton machines. That's a refreshing change from DOT's usual pedestrian safely education efforts, which almost always tell pedestrians to stay out of the way of cars-in a city where more people walk than drive. Messinger also recently sponsored a meeting of Manhattan Community Board members to tell them about NYC traffic calming successes. The more people learn about traffic aiming, the more they'd like to see it on their block. Thanks, Ruth!
What's a Chicane?
Chicanes have not yet appeared in New York City, but they may be the best response to neighborhood complaints about speeding, especially near schools. For example, DOT recently rejected a request for a four-way stop in front of P.S. 66 on 102nd Street in Richmond Hill, Queens. The PTA called for signs after a crossing guard named Theresa fell in the snow and broke her arm last winter. Twelve parents took over her duties while she healed and found that they were "constantly faced with the possibility of being knocked over ...even when holding up a STOP sign!"
Despite letters of support from the principal, City Councilmember Alfonso Stabile and State Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio, the DOT said no to the 4-way stop. Chicanes in front of P.S. 66 would slow down traffic and protect children more effectively than would lights or stop signs. The DOT should install chicanes now.
Each mark on this map represents work being done by DOT's Pedestrian Projects Group. Their job: test traffic calming in New York lower the pedestrian death and injury toll and make the city a nicer place to walk. T.A. and the Neighborhood Streets Network are working with PPG to identify more locations for traffic calming and pedestrian Improvements. Projects on this map range from possible 15 mph zomes to sidewalk extensions and speed humps.
The NYC DOT recently began testing plans to improve Mulry Square, at the intersection of 11th Street and 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village. Last month, DOT painted sidewalk extensions and installed plastic posts. Over the next three months, DOT will reverse the direction of 11th Street, change the signal timing, and install concrete planters and posts.
Working with DOT's pedestrian planners, Project For Public Spaces surveyed conditions at the corner to find out what users didn't like about the intersection. Together they found that the intersection was dangerous to cross, desolate, and lonely. Moreover, the three-way intersection design led to both traffic jams and speeding.
A new kind of DOT collaboration with PPS and the Community Board led to a new design and a cheap but effective test on the street. In 1997, the sidewalk will be extended into the painted areas. Not only will the intersection be safer, but the extra sidewalk space will be a more pleasant place to walk and shop. T.A. wants Mulry Square to serve as a model of public participation for the whole city.
Fulton Street is open to pedestrians during lunch hours-a summer-long trial last year led to strong community support, showing how popular pedestrian space can be. The lunchtime pedestrian mall is now permanent and even the Stock Exchange wants a pedestrian mall in font of its building on Wall Street.
The Department of City Planning has studied pedestrian conditions and come up with a plan to make Downtown a safe and pleasant place to walk. Working with the Downtown Alliance, a Business Improvement District dedicated to revitalizing the sagging downtown area, DCP pedestrian expert Scott, Wise recommends:
DCP and the Alliance plan to test some of these ideas by March.
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