Pedestrian Countdown Clocks Placed At Dangerous NYC Intersections

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New pedestrian countdown clock in Brooklyn.

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Pedestrians have forty-three new countdown clocks at some of New York City 's most dangerous intersections to tell them how much time there is left to cross the street. When the LED crosswalk signals show a flashing red hand, they also start displaying the dwindling seconds left until vehicles regain the right of way and may zoom past again.

City officials held a press conference announcing the new lights at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street in Brooklyn, where six streets cross.

"Individuals should not have to take their life into their hands when they cross Flatbush Avenue," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the area. "These countdown clocks will go a long way in improving safety and reducing pedestrian fatalities and cyclist fatalities in the city of New York."

The current crop of clocks is installed at dangerous intersections on major thoroughfares like Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at the press conference that a 2010 department study showed "major corridors are two-thirds more deadly for pedestrians” than smaller roads.

Sadik-Khan was referring to her department's Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, which found that "signals at wider crosswalks helped reduce the number of pedestrians still in the crosswalk when the countdown signals turned to solid red. The countdown signals had no effect on streets with shorter pedestrian crossing distances."

Long Island University student Cynthia Francillon stopped at the corner to watch one of the newly installed countdown signals in action--and liked what she saw. "I think it's better that they added the seconds," she said. "It gives people a chance to actually keep going or to stay back so no accidents occur."

The department plans to have countdown clocks installed at 1,500 intersections by this time next year. (See map.)

As Transportation Nation reported last year, there are a number of signals that malfunction, displaying both the "walk" and the "don't walk" images at the same time. We've mapped them here. No word on a timetable for fixing those.

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