July/August 1996, p.8-9
Reclaiming the Streets
No Progress On Dangerous Crossings
Last summer, T.A. and the Daily News teamed up to expose the city's ten most dangerous locations for pedestrians. A cover story put the pressure on DOT and an editorial asked "What's DOT Waiting For?" It added, 'What's needed is fast, lifesaving action." Nine months later, T.A. revisited the ten most dangerous intersections and found no evidence of change.
The News also wrote, "DOT plans to study this idea to death--of more pedestrians, no doubt." DOT did indeed promise to study the intersections. At a January Mayoral press conference, former Commissioner Elliot Sander announced the "Share The Road Safely" program, which among other things, promised to analyze the 12 most dangerous locations for pedestrians within three months, and implement the recommendations within one year.
But these intersections need improvements now!
What's needed is fast, life-saving action.
Christopher Lynn, DOT's new commissioner must make pedestrian safety a top priority. Dangerous intersections are the best place to start. The agency should install temporary changes by the end of the summer and stick to a schedule for permanent changes. The city's pedestrians need more than new signs and longer traffic lights: only if all of New York's most dangerous intersections are physically re-designed will New Yorkers feel safe crossing the street.
Write to: City Council Transportation Chair Noach Dear. Ask him to hold a hearing on DOT's progress and make it clear that the Council expects safety improvements to be installed on or before schedule. City Council, City Hall, New York NY 10007
Thanks to T.A. and the NSN's advocacy of neighborhood traffic relief and pedestrian safety, two innovative bills are moving through the state legislature. The first, A9057, would allow cities and villages to set speed limits as low as 15 mph (the lowest now is 25). Assembly member Deborah Glick (D-Manh) introduced this bill at the request of the Neighborhood Streets Network.
T.A. is working with Glick on a second bill, A6290B, to help localities create "pedestrian safety zones," or traffic calming areas. It would also compel drivers to yield to pedestrians in any part of a crosswalk. In New York, unlike many other states, a driver may now zoom post someone in a crosswalk as long as the pedestrian is not on the driver's side of the road. The new law will make it clear that pedestrians own the right of way.
One hundred Brooklyn residents gathered on the steps of Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens on the morning of Thursday, April 25 to "Reclaim Our Streets from Traffic." Organized by a coalition of the Neighborhood Streets Network, the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Brooklyn Heights Associations, and Transportation Alternatives, the outraged residents blocked the morning rush hour, demanding "Traffic Calming Now!" and protesting motorists' use of neighborhood streets as thru-ways.
The pedestrian force occupied Hicks Street, which is often overrun by cars and trucks escaping the clogged B.Q.E. Carroll Gardens Association President Buddy Scotto and Brooklyn Heights Association President Judy Stanton urged residents to fight back against traffic, which will worsen dramatically during the upcoming reconstruction of the Gowanus Expressway. Participants called on Mayor Giuliani and the Department of Transportation to reduce traffic on their streets and start installing traffic calming measures now.
The rally is the first of several planned citizen actions that will focus attention on intrusive, harmful levels of traffic. T.A. and the Network will soon stage rallies in the nearby neighborhoods of Boerum Hill and Brooklyn Heights. Later in the year, we will lead a city-wide Day of Action, to make it clear that neighborhoods all over the city want to be free from the tyranny of traffic.
Tired of too much traffic, danger, trucks, speeding, or car noise on your block? Traffic calming offers solutions, and now the Neighborhood Streets Network is offering a traffic calming primer. Streets For People describes traffic calming solutions and how to win them.
T.A.'s Bronx Chapter rode recently to protest the summary ending of Car-free Grand Concourse Sundays. After more than 5 years of successful fun and sun. Mayor Giuliani has ended the summer-long event. T.A. is organizing community support to convince the mayor that the Bronx needs Car-free Sundays. Call Rich Gans at 718-653-2203 to help.
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