From a new training program to a new mantra, the NYPD Traffic Intelligence Unit, with citywide responsibility for traffic agents, is changing priorities for its agents. This is great news , but do not expect any miracle right away: changing to Pedestrian First is a tall order: for years the priority was on vehicular traffic first and the personnel have to be constantly retrained as they stay only one year in this assignment.
CHEKPEDS’ Martin Treat and Christine Berthet met with the managers of this unit to address various issues recently raised by Hell’s Kitchen residents. Here is what they learned:
- Agents waiving vehicles into pedestrians path: this issue is particularly acute for turning lanes across two way streets ( turning south at 42nd and 9th or 34th and 9th, turning north on 8th and 42nd or turning west at 34th and Dyer) . The agents are experimenting with whistles to attract the pedestrians’s attention and alert them to follow the agents directions . We asked that the agents position themselves in front of the south crossing when they effect such override. The managers assured us they will raise the agents awareness of these turns.
- Constant and infuriating whistling: as indicated above it is a new approach being adopted to attract pedestrians and vehicular attention. We noted if used constantly the whistle would lose its alert value. We asked that the agents use the whistle only when they are overriding traffic signals. The managers indicated a willingness to experiment.
- No traffic enforcement for gridlock: although our neighborhood is very much in favor of enforcement , gridlock enforcement generated a lot of complaints from drivers citywide. So much for Law and Order! We also learned that the legal definition of gridlock includes only vehicles that block the intersections while going straight across the intersection. It does not include vehicles turning and blocking the intersections. We will have to request to change the law and write to ask for more enforcement.
- A protocol to report prolonged gridlock and honking: The managers of the unit confirms that the following steps are appropriate. We suggested that the protocol should be in writing and that they attend each of the Police Precinct Community Councils at least once to discuss this protocol:
- Call your precinct and ask them to send a resource
- If the precinct indicates lack of resource ask them to call the traffic management center to obtain a resource
- Optionally call 311 and ask the same (this step will give you a track number)
Lets observe the changes, and report your comments here.