Pedestrian Safety: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

57th street residents rejoice that DOT recently installed a new mid-block pedestrian signalized crossing between 8th and 9th Avenues. This very long block is now on par with 42nd and 43rd Streets where such signals have been implemented with much success: it slows the traffic and encourages pedestrians to cross at the light.  The more we can separate pedestrians from cars , physically or time-wise, the safer we all are.

This week, DOT engineers took another look at the 42nd Street and 9th Avenue intersection, to evaluate the best way to change the signal timing there. There were 24 crashes with injuries at this intersection in the last 21 months. If you recall, in 2010 DOT published a report showing  this intersection as the second most dangerous in New York city for pedestrians and indicated that the south turn signal for the westbound traffic would be modified from leading to lagging, in order to give pedestrians the priority when crossing the south leg of 9th Avenue. This was expected to be part of the package of signal adjustments made for the bike lane, which otherwise includes a split phase to protect the east side crossing of 42nd Street. When  CHEKPEDS learned that it would not happen, we escalated the issue and caused DOT to take another look. We should get a second opinion fairly soon.

Tragically, Friday morning  a resident crossing 43rd Street was hit by an MTA bus. A neighbor reports ” Another pedestrian was hit today by a bus at 43/9.   It was one of the 34th St buses pulling out of their resting spot on 43rd. Hit a pedestrian crossing 9th east to west on south crosswalk.  I had just crossed in front of the bus on 43rd walking south on east side of Ninth. I didn’t see it, thank god.  The pedestrian was partly under the front wheel of the bus.  It was awful. The bus pulled out on a green, and the pedestrian was crossing on the same green. That’s what makes it so puzzling, the bus was coming out from a dead parked stop — . The ped was about 1/3 of the way across. There was still the blood stain there an hour later — not that there is anyone to clean that up. ” The press reported the pedestrian at Bellevue , in serious condition.

It did not have to happen!  in 2011, as part of the Hell’s Kitchen Traffic study,   DOT recommended installing a split phase that would have protected the pedestrian against this  very occurrence. But two years later the split phase is still not installed. Nor do we yet have a report on how to remediate the conditions that caused a fatality at 41st Street and 9th Avenue six months ago (although we have asked for a split phase there since 2008).  It is appalling that DOT engineers still prioritize vehicular flow over pedestrian safety in our area!

 

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