Joined by New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in January, announced what he called “new actions and investments in pedestrian safety at intersections.”
Experts say that intersections are the leading site of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, so the city’s DOT is making design improvements to 1,000 intersections, to improve safety. This includes improving traffic signals, raising crosswalks, and other expanded pedestrian spaces and employing “visibility measures.”
Empowered by new traffic rules protecting pedestrians, the NYPD said it will immediately begin expanded enforcement against drivers who fail to recognize the primacy of pedestrians in crosswalks. Intersections pose a special safety challenge in NYC, where crashes at intersections typically comprise 50% of all fatalities and 70% of all injuries. For pedestrians, the dangers are more pronounced: 55% of pedestrian fatalities and 79% of pedestrian traffic injuries occur at intersections.
DOT Design Toolkit Focus on Intersections
DOT announced that in 2022 it would undertake new and expanded efforts focused on intersection design at 1,000 locations, including:
- Increased focus on intersections in Street Improvement Projects: DOT is redesigning intersections where fatalities and serious injuries have occurred, specifying Priority Investment Areas. Changes will include new turn signals and “head-starts” that allow pedestrians to enter intersections before vehicles can turn.
- Raised crosswalks: DOT is constructing 100 new raised crosswalks at curb level annually, which increase accessibility for the disability community and served as speed bumps to slow down speeding drivers.
- Bike corrals at intersections:DOT will “daylight” at least 100 intersections with bike corrals in 2022, as part of a planned installation of more than 10,000 bicycle racks by the end of the year. Bike corrals help provide visibility for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, while preventing drivers from cutting corners and turning too quickly.
- Parking lot and gas station traffic-calming:Curb cuts at high-traffic locations like parking lots and gasoline stations, often at intersections, can create danger as drivers cut across sidewalks unpredictably, endangering vulnerable students and senior pedestrians. Dozens of problem locations will be targeted, largely outside Manhattan, reducing driver “short cuts” and better channeling traffic to increase visibility and predictability.
- Doubling the Turn-Calming Program: Research has shown that drivers take turns more slowly and deliberately when physical elements are in place to force turns at more appropriate speeds. DOT will double the production of such efforts to 100 intersections this year.
Increased Enforcement at Intersections
The NYPD said it will strongly enforce failure-to-yield (FTY) violations, which are known to be especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections. The goal is to double FTY enforcement efforts from the pervious year. While enforcement will be at intersections citywide, officers will also be empowered by a new DOT traffic rule to address such violations at over 1,200 intersections citywide that are governed by neither a traffic signal nor a stop sign. Under the new rule, drivers and cyclists passing through such intersections must not simply yield but fully stop until a pedestrian has completely crossed the street. The new rule is intended to clarify enforcement and remove any subjectivity from such violations.