NYCDOT just published the results of a study of 1,000 intersections showing that vehicular left turns are three times deadlier than rights turns , especially for pedestrians and seniors. This is consistent with our neighborhood’s experience where ten out of 13 pedestrian fatalities in the last 15 years occurred in the left crossing with the walk sign.

With this report DOT is complying with Local Transportation Law 11 that requires to study left turns. DOT’s failure to study proven solutions for these situations raises critical questions as to the report’s credibility. We do need transparent, objective and accurate information when it comes to saving lives and avoiding life altering injuries.


Recent DOT sponsored studies and our experience in the field with bike lanes have shown Split Phases to be extremely effective to improve safety in those situations. Our Council Member Corey Johnson wrote and Oped in Chelsea Now asking the DOT to roll out more split phases across our district.

Public Advocate Laetitia James introduced a bill asking to roll out the current proven remedies like Split phases or split LPIs at 100 intersections. Instead, DOT will roll out 100 “Hardened Centerline”  a paint-&-plastic experimental treatment that has never been tested. Experimenting is good but can we afford the three-year wait time to find out if this works ? Especially  for the hundreds of persons that will be killed or injured while the proper treatment is withheld.

Monday is obviously an issue:  Mayor Di Blasio rejected the City Council demand to include $ 50 millions in the budget to improve street safety. The city is spending millions $ annually to repair potholes; they send teams within one week of report to fix them. And still no one ever heard that a driver was killed because of a pothole.  What about taking some $ out of that pot to save many pedestrians’ or bicyclists’ lives? Don’t we deserve it ? Or are we second class citizens and our lives are expandable for the comfort of drivers? Our administration should not cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of our seniors, families and neighbors.

DOT staff indicated that they could not study split phase signals since the number of installations was too small. However we counted at least 49 split phases in the city , including 9 outside Manhattan. This is a larger sample that the  34 Left turn only signals and 51 left turn restrictions that were included in the report.

The report confirms the findings of an earlier report published by the Bloomberg administration in 2010. It found that overall 19% of fatalities and severe injuries occurred as a result of a left turn in the pedestrian crossing where the pedestrian has the walk sign .   DOT has been aware of this information for six years: not including the split phases treatment in the study and not rolling out the best treatment possible to reduce deaths and injuries is unconscionable. This brings to mind car companies failure to fix problems that they knew about and caused numerous deaths just to save money. This is pure negligence.

DOT concludes that the status quo is appropriate.  But Streetsblog in an excellent article, questions why DOT is rolling out so many LPIs which are probably less effective than split phases (we would know if this had been studied!). And let’s not forget that all bike lanes are not created equal: those with Split Phases are much safer per an earlier DOT analysis.

In spite of the lofty goals of Vision Zero this administration continues to ration safety treatments for pedestrians, children and senior citizens and  keep all of us in harm’s way. Smooth riding in an SUV is more important than saving lives.

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