Streams

Fixing NYC's Most Dangerous Intersections

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The corner of 96th and Broadway in Manhattan (athalfred/flickr)

Mayor de Blasio is aiming for zero traffic deaths, and after three pedestrian fatalities in 10 days near 96th Street and Broadway, the police began to issue tickets to jaywalkers. Former NYC Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz, known as Gridlock Sam at the Daily News, president and CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering, takes a look at why that UWS intersection is so dangerous, and when traffic enforcement should include pedestrian penalties. Plus New York State Assembleyman Daniel O'Donnell discusses his proposal to reduce NYC's speed limit from 30mph to 20mph.

→ BONUS: Sam Schwartz answers a left-turn conundrum.

Guests:

Sam Schwartz

Comments [89]

Fact Checker from New York, NY

"BTW, according to Bratton, he stated that 73% of the time pedestrians got hit it was because they didn't bother to follow the laws themselves."

-Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

This statement is FALSE and was publicly retracted.

Apr. 28 2014 09:53 PM
Edna from Upper East Side

Please remember that protected left turns are a relatively new phenomenon in New York. With protected left turns pedestrians used to jaywalking are experiencing a new phenomen - danger from two directions. Prior to protected left turns our neural paths expected danger from only one direction. When I jaywalk from Canal on to West Broadway my feeble brain used to looking one way must now look two ways.

That is a structural change which is an anomaly in the city - we are accustomed to looking only one-direction since with only a few exceptions all streets are one-way.

Apr. 28 2014 12:57 PM

One of the major problems with modern society in NYC is that our streets were not laid out for the exclusive use of one form of transportation. Streets were multi-purpose - merchants set up shops, horse-led carts moved by and pedestrians walked as much on the street as they did on the sidewalk.

It was also illegal to park a car on the street overnight until the 1940s. Until then it WAS considered the driver's responsibility for everything that it does - just like all other forms of transportation.

Do you remember the classic scenario of kids playing in the street? Could you image that being a remote possibility today? Not only did they play in the street, famous urban activists like Jane Jacobs (in The Death and Life of Great American Cities) wrote lists of why such a scenario should be maintained at the time, but of course this is a battle she lost to Robert Moses and the cult of the car.

Sadly today we're still basing our logic on an outdated perception that the car is the ultimate form of transportation. Outside of the city, people feel it's their RIGHT to dominate a road. I'm shocked when I leave the city just how aggressive and anti-pedestrian (and seemingly, anti-human life) driver's are.

We should re-examine how our streets functioned pre-1940s and have a better understanding of what was lost since then. Then we can look at the problem today with a better perspective and find a much more meaningful solution.

Jan. 27 2014 06:48 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Hearing from what a car hater like Gridlock Sam on safe streets makes as much of sense as hearing from an anti-Semite on if Israel should exist as a Jewish state. I am all for safe streets, but every group needs to play their role in this, not just one particular group. Every time I hear about anyone mention how motorist flout the laws and act as if they don't apply to them, I can say the same about cyclists and pedestrians that do exactly the same thing, so quit trying to act like saints when a lot of you aren't. Until all groups are obeying the laws, there will never be any such thing as safe streets. BTW, according to Bratton, he stated that 73% of the time pedestrians got hit it was because they didn't bother to follow the laws themselves. As a matter of fact, jaywalking may not hurt others, but it does place pedestrians into harm's way as does the same when cyclists are flouting the laws as well. I do feel that it's a good idea to crackdown on jaywalking especially since just about every other city in both the country and world are doing, so I don't see why it should be done in NYC. For the record, I do call out reckless drivers a lot, but I almost never hear cyclists and pedestrians calling out law breakers of their own kind, and many of them of acted either silent or rushed to their defense whenever that was brought. If a solution is needed, then fix the timing of the lights, which won't result in any redesign of any roads nor will it cost much, but I know it will be opposed a lot because it will take away the agenda that the anti-car crowd would want. Overall, all I am really hearing is a scapegoat of motorists when other groups have some of the blame as well when they aren't following the rules themselves, which gives them no moral legitimacy to tell others what to do when they barley practice what they preach.

Jan. 24 2014 05:40 PM
bikedriver from Here

A hundred years ago, more people died under streetcars, wagons and horses than are "killed" by motorists now, even though the poulation was smaller.

Clearly, there is no "epidemic", this vision zero sillyness is simply political grandstanding from the car-hater crowd.

Jan. 24 2014 10:21 AM

mgduke ~

right on!!

Jan. 24 2014 10:17 AM
Al Cinamon from Yonkers

When are we going to stop blaming the roads, intersections, the sky, the weather for crashes? Let's put the blame where it belongs...on the irresponsible driver who think that red lights, stop signs and speed limits don't apply to them. Killer drivers should be held accountable. Charge them with something, anything. Don't just call it an accident and let them drive away scot-free. Send a few drivers to jail for murder and the others will get them message real quick.

Jan. 24 2014 09:06 AM
Chris Kok from Newark, NJ

How about we institute a vulnerable users law like they have in the Netherlands? Let's protect those who are most vulnerable to being killed on the streets and crack down on those most likely to kill on the streets. Pedestrians>Cars!

Jan. 23 2014 10:40 PM

The loss of sidewalk entrances to the 96th/Broadway subway is absurd!

Also, the current system is to have early walk signs on the uptown side before the downtown car turning lane starts.

Needless to say, even the most alert are sometimes stuck on the South side of 96th just as the downtown cars are turning!

The whole setup is absurd.

The walk signals @ 96th & CPW are also nuts with 2 bus lines turning west onto 96thST

Jan. 23 2014 05:03 PM
Paul from UWS

I'm sorry that 3 deaths and a bludgeoned 84 year old needed to happen before I had the opportunity to vent about the criminally negligent 96th subway station. None of these recent incidents were directly related to the crowding created by this subway station, but since then, barricades have been installed and traffic officers are present around-the-clock to prevent jaywalking. For years, while it was under construction, and I saw them narrowing the sidewalks, diverting N/S Broadway traffic, bulging the sidewalk corners into 96th St., all to accommodate a new median-only entrance to this busy subway station, I said, "People-are-going-to-die..."

The MTA created this problem with their ignorantly planned construction. They saddled our neighborhood with this death-trap. Why aren't they accountable for the danger they created?

Bring back the sidewalk entrances to the 96th St. subway station!!!

Jan. 23 2014 04:36 PM
k from Brooklyn

Any intersection in Bushwick under the J or M tracks is terrifying to walk across.
It's like the traffic does not even acknowledge that pedestrians exist there.

Jan. 23 2014 03:19 PM
DM from Crown Hts. Brooklyn

I am still a pedestrian and a driver. I haven't cycled city streets in approx. 15 years, but remember how contentious that could be. Recently there was a death in Prospect Heights of a young child crossing the street. Shortly after, the community was outraged to the point of instructing their local precinct cmdr. to place a higher priority on traffic than on (major) crimes. It was noted by myself at the precinct meeting that there isn't comity exhibited by the entire public; drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The idea of 3-phase traffic crossing sounds like a workable solution, though it would be hard to implement in NYC. And what do you do when a pedestrian, who has the right of way, jaywalks out into traffic with their back turned to traffic, and then saunters across the street/thoroughfare?
Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue is presently the most dangerous intersection in NYC. It will get worse when the new building one block away is completed; hopefully Comm. Bray will at traffic flow, street and sidewalk and consider solutions.

Jan. 23 2014 02:54 PM

Great guest, good focus on the key issue of pedestrian safety (though safety of bicyclists also very important), but like all such discussions ignored the main cause and route to cure the problem.

The crucial cause of the ongoing epidemic of motor vehicles killing and maiming pedestrians is the flagrant failure/refusal of NYPD to enforce the laws against speeding, running red lights, and failing to yield to pedestrians and cyclists.

And the basic reason that our police officers do not enforce these traffic laws is because NYC has stopped requiring our police to live inside the city limits.

When all police officers were domiciled in the 5 boroughs (and wore their uniforms to and from work, and used public transportation), they were real members of the NYC community and enforced the traffic laws from the perspective of citizens who knew what it meant to walk our streets every day, and knew the people they policed as family, friends, neighbors, and people like themselves.

Now that NYPD officers are allowed to reside in suburbs 100 miles outside the city, commuting to work in their private cars, these transient police experience our streets as links of the highway from their distant homes and see us resident pedestrians from inside their cars not as people they know but as aliens and obstacles. Is it any wonder that this transient NYPD allows motor vehicles to violate traffic laws with impunity and shows little concern even animosity for pedestrians and bicyclists?

The horrendous police behavior last weekend on 96th street, viciously battering an 82-year-old man for his failure to understand their unprecedented targeting of jaywalkers, is just the latest outrage caused by allowing officers to make their homes in the suburbs. Does anyone think those cops would have battered that old man if they themselves lived in the neighborhood?

Only when our police officers are once more made part of the fabric of NYC neighborhoods by requiring them to live inside the city will we see major cure of the epidemic of motor vehicle lawlessness wantonly killing and maiming our most vulnerable pedestrians.

In negotiating the next contract with the NYPD, shouldn’t Mayor de Blasio make this his top priority? How about starting by putting new police officers first on the list for public housing, which would not only be very affordable for them, and save them much wasteful commuting time, but would also serve to make the projects much safer places to live? What better win-win-win could we have on this?

Jan. 23 2014 01:49 PM
Anne Watkins from UWS

Great conversation. Thanks, Brian. Assemblyman O'Donnell's description of the intersection of 96th and Broadway was perfect. I have crossed it thousands of times and would be hard pressed to describe it's current complicated incarnation. All I know is, wait on the sidewalk for the walking man signal every time!

Since New York City streets and sidewalks are shared by a vast variety of users, it's makes sense to pay attention to each other, and respect each others right of way. It is not helpful to break into factions. Pedestrians vs bikes vs cars vs commercial vehicles vs police vs government. Consideration and cooperation can smooth the way to safer and more civil streets. The attitude of entitlement that causes walkers to stand in the street, narrowing the passage for cars or jaywalking across active intersections, or for cars and cyclists to push through lights, muscling against walkers who have the right to cross contributes to danger.

And is it just me, or does "Vision Zero" seem a terrible term for a plan to reduce fatalities, many of which happen at night, when vision is reduced? I often call out to cars at twilight or nightfall to remind them to turn on their headlights. Why not request that all cars in the city drive with lights on at all times?

And lastly, the revelation that the city gets revenue for parking tickets but not moving violations is jaw dropping. I bet there are other inequities to be addressed. The recent spate of fatalities and injuries in our neighborhoods is heartbreaking. Young Cooper Stock lived 3 blocks from me. I hope we can use this moment of shared grief and concern to make some real strides for a safer city.

Jan. 23 2014 01:30 PM
Jeff from UWS

The intersections around 96th and Broadway and for that matter the traffic challenges on the UWS as a whole have been dangerous and largely ignored for years. Pedestrians and drivers BOTH largely share blame. What is not being discussed is the effects of human nature. It's a highly congested area where everyone rushes to get where they want to go in spite of traffic signs. It's been a disaster in the making and unfortunately it takes several deaths for people to finally take notice and demand a solution.

There is no point in blaming driver v. pedestrian. What matters is that we finally bring in experts to fix the problem and provide the funds to do the job right. This is a design problem and not an issue of reducing speed limits. When fixed, human nature will follow suit. Adding entrances to the subway on the north side of 96th street would be a good start.

The only way to prevent further incidents is to have traffic cops stationed at these intersections until a solution is in place. They instill fear and order to a driver who may think to beat a red light or to the pedestrian who prefers to Jaywalk.

Jan. 23 2014 12:55 PM
Lenore from Manhattan

regarding the Barnes Walk, I've seen some intersections here in NYC that do have them (can't remember which ones). That is one solution for many of these intersections. Another is to reform how moving violations are reimbursed to the city--that is shocking! Another unfairness to NYC, like previously counting the incarcerated as residents of the counties where they were incarcerated. That fortunately was ended. So this moving violations business should be ended too.

Jan. 23 2014 12:06 PM
CMH from Manhattan

Dangerous intersections for pedestrians:

Broadway and Dyckman and Riverside-- very confusing because of lights that are for each traffic lane, but some lanes can turn and some don't. Plus Broadway is very wide in the time allotted. Cars come rushing off the HHudson Pkwy onto RSD and want to zoom down to Bway. Speeding is bad. AND the HUGE # of double-parked cars on Bway at the intersection raises the confusion, tension and congestion for everyone, but the pedestrians are the most vulnerable.

Broadway at 60th/Time Warner Center-- everyone is confused at that intersection! That intersection should have all traffic stop and then pedestrians go. Also because there are a huge # of tourists there who are clueless as to when/where to walk.

Jan. 23 2014 11:52 AM
James Panero from Upper West Side

Thank you for taking on the issue of pedestrian safety. I am an Upper West Sider living along the 96th Street corridor and can report these problems with traffic flow have been studied and known for years. It is a tragedy that the solutions had not been implemented before these horrific accidents.

Last week I looked at the specifics in an editorial for The New York Daily News.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/put-pedal-metal-save-pedestrians-lives-article-1.1581021

Here is a link to the extensive 2008 traffic study commissioned by the NYC UWS Streets Renaissance

http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/pdf/UWS_Blueprint.pdf

Jan. 23 2014 11:42 AM

Oscar from NY; try saying that about Latinos and la Raza will have you hauled up before some tribunal for "hurting their feelings". The squeaky wheel gets the grease and they're getting lots of grease today.

Jan. 23 2014 11:19 AM
Paul McCorry

When are we going to realize that people and cars should not occupy the same space? Crosswalks should all cross at same time, then let cars make their turn turns! Genius...

Jan. 23 2014 11:17 AM

I've had an NYPD cop tell me, "Today is 'Seatbelt Day'" as he wrote me a citation for not wearing my seatbelt that had just been removed so I could turn around fully in order to parallel park!!!

Criminal idiots!!

Jan. 23 2014 11:16 AM
billzbub from Upper West Side Resident

Re the 96 st intersection, why did they close up the subway entrances on the corners and force everyone to cross the street to the middle of Broadway? I understand they wanted to solve a congestion problem getting into the station. But why not have BOTH options available for pedestrians to get to the trains? Less people would rush to cross the street which is better for pedestrians AND autos.

The other problem with that intersection is the # of cars that try to beat the red light. I see cars try to bull their way through against the light >50% of the times I cross to go to work. Some cameras there would be a lot more effective than ticketing jaywalkers.

Jan. 23 2014 11:14 AM
Kathy from Sunnyside

I don't want to exaggerate, but my quality of life improved enormously when the Bloomberg administration took the Queens Boulevard "of death" problem seriously and gave pedestrians enough time to cross the more than 8 lanes of traffic, if you include the underpass). It's not only saved many lives -- my intersection at 45-46 Streets were especially dangerous, but took away the anxiety I faced every night of having to run across the boulevard to try to cross in one traffic light cycle. I can now cross without fear and be reasonably certain I'll come out of the crossing alive! Thanks, Mayor Bloomberg. Glad to hear that Mayor DiBlasio is taking up the cause.

Jan. 23 2014 11:13 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The intersection where I was run over last year (crossing w/the Walk sign) is a T-intersection, where 1 of the streets doesn't go through on the other side. It's set up so cars on each leg have the green light in turn & the walk light is in the same direction. This makes it less safe to cross w/the light, esp. when traffic is coming from the stem of the T: all cars turn either right or left, across the path of pedestrians on each side of that street. They really need to rethink how the lights are coordinated there.

Jan. 23 2014 11:10 AM
billzbub from Upper West Side Resident

Re the 96 st intersection, why did they close up the subway entrances on the corners and force everyone to cross the street to the middle of Broadway? I understand they wanted to solve a congestion problem getting into the station. But why not have BOTH options available for pedestrians to get to the trains? Less people would rush to cross the street which is better for pedestrians AND autos.

The other problem with that intersection is the # of cars that try to beat the red light. I see cars try to bull their way through against the light >50% of the times I cross to go to work. Some cameras there would be a lot more effective than ticketing jaywalkers.

Jan. 23 2014 11:09 AM
betsy armstrong from Upper West Side

As an Orientation and Mobility Specialist training persons who are visually impaired to travel in NYC, the re-organizations of the streets into walkways, bike lanes, and parks as well as the phenomenon that Sam Schwartz mentioned, having pedestrians cross without benefit of auditory traffic cues, has created hazards for my population. The few APS (auditory pedestrian signal) intersections are not uniform nor reliable.
Rarely does the NYC Planning Board consult with these groups prior to altering intersections or installing mechanisms. There are safe, reliable, and even less costly solutions in other US cities and certainly worldwide, like the 'pips' or flashing signals, that benefit the sighted population as well as the sensory impaired.
My profession has studies, surveys, and focus groups available to share if only we are included. But then inclusion was not a strong suit of previous administrations. Perhaps this one will be exceptional.

Jan. 23 2014 11:08 AM

It is currently IMPOSSIBLE to drive in NYC without being issued some kind of citation. If you drive in the city you WILL be issued a summons. Whether you do something wrong or, not.

NYPD's quota policy includes citing first, regardless of circumstance and let the motorist sort it out in court - Guilty until proven innocent.

I particularly LOVE the sting operations you see set up all over the city. The intersection at Watts and Thompson in SoHo is one of the MOST egregious. As many as FIVE NYPD traffic cops HIDE behind a building at the southwest corner at rush hour. When the light changes they all descend on the cars caught in the bumper to bumper tunnel traffic that are unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in the box. On the surface, this sounds great - "These idiot motorists are causing terrible traffic jams!!" Except, what this ticket writing DOESN'T do is SOLVE the congestion problem!! The trapped motorists receiving citations remain stuck in the intersection on Watts until citations are issued. The result is MORE congestion because North/South Thompson becomes DEADLOCKED up to Houston in addition to the East/West congestion. In addition to the UNBEARABLE automobile traffic, these cars being cited also block the pedways and force the children attending a nearby school to weave in and out of exhaust laden traffic to cross the street.

Instead of padding the coffers with five "officers" writing $150 citations and NOT solving the problem, how about stationing ONE "officer" at the same intersection to actually direct traffic and keep things MOVING?!?!?

This, observed by a listener who currently does not own an automobile and prefers his bicycle of his feet to get around - no friend of cars.

Jan. 23 2014 11:06 AM
jc

Does anyone remember the Barnes walk? In the 1960s, or maybe 1970s, traffic commissioner Barnes instituted a system that allowed pedestrians to cross anyway they wished on a signal. For a several seconds cars couldn't turn into the crosswalk until they got the green light. I remember crossing Fulton Street in Brooklyn and feeling really secure because cars waiting to turn weren't bearing down on me. That system didn't last long. Would something like that help?

Jan. 23 2014 11:02 AM
Joe Pearce from Brooklyn

The lady who called was right in that very often the only truly safe way to cross a street is to jaywalk. When the light is with you and the traffic is halted on the street you are crossing, you are in greater danger from cars, trucks and bicycles that come roaring around corners from where the light is green. I would always prefer to cross where I can see the traffic coming in both directions, whether or not the light is with me. Makes no difference, though, because no matter how many tickets they hand out, I will continue to jaywalk at any time I feel it is in my best interests to do so, and all the phony 'keep our citizens safe' garbage that is, in reality, always another excuse for collecting fines for the City coffers, will not keep me from doing so; nor, if I am ticketed, will I pay such a fine without bringing it to Court and causing the City several times the amount of such fine in expenses. (Let's see, jaywalking maybe ten times a day, I have managed to do so about two hundred and fifty thousand times since I first learned to cross the street by myself at 7 or so, and I have needed neither the police nor a new mayor to keep me safe during the ensuing seven decades.)

Jan. 23 2014 11:00 AM
Walter from Manhattan

The 96th St and Broadway intersection has a special problem in that the subway entrance is on the median island. So pedestrians often have to cross 2 streets, 96th St and half of Broadway. One cop on the scene told me that the first death this year at that intersection was of a pedestrian who tried to cross northbound from the subway station to the median on the other side of 96th Street (where there is no crosswalk), and thus was blindsided by a left-turning car that had the signal coming from behind. That would explain why the city has now put up barriers and signs to prevent this median-to-median crossing.

I suspect the only solutions would be either 1) to have a designated pedestrian crossing interval with no cars moving, as has been suggested a la London; or 2) ban left turns at this intersection altogether. That would inconvenience drivers, but not too much if they know in advance and can plan a route.

Jan. 23 2014 10:59 AM
Jen Benepe from 96th st and broadway.

Sam Schwartz is totally on top of this situation in identifying the structural and behavioral issues leading to the per deaths, and his opinion that targeting the pedestrians is not a solution. I remember being warned by police not to cross this intersection with my mom when I was a little kid--so it's been a problem area for years.

Jan. 23 2014 10:57 AM
NB

Larry from Williamsburg - TOTALLY AGREE, its a death trap, i always try to make eye contact with the drivers and put my hand up to make them realise there is a Pedestrian walk signal and i am going to walk. Same on metropolitan and Meeker a block away where the same cars are speeding off the service road from the BQE, the cars speed around that corner and beep their horn at pedestrians to move out their way when we have the right of way. Its safer to cross on a No walk sign when there are no cars. I too am a driver and have lived here 18 years, its always been the same but is getting worse by the day, I avoid walking that way whenever possible, its a battle to cross the street.

Jan. 23 2014 10:54 AM
bryan from downtown

I've been thinking about the difficulty of this situation for years. I've begun to think that we need a three stage system as opposed to two; i.e. first the lights go North -South per-se, then East - West, during which time pedestrian cannot cross in any direction, then all traffic lights turn red, no cars may move in any direction, but pedestrians may cross in all direction simultaneously. This makes it safer for everyone, and eliminate the interaction and delay from turning traffic, and would guarantee pedestrian safety, as no cars are moving in any direction when it is the pedestrian interval.

Jan. 23 2014 10:54 AM
Nan from Manhattan

There should be harsher penalties for drivers who, as a result of their own reckless driving, cause a pedestrian injury or even death. Taxi drivers especially should not get away with just FINES... especially when the driver is clearly the aggressor. That is just shameful. The laws need to be revised.

Jan. 23 2014 10:53 AM
Courtney from UES Manhattan

The intersection at E 62nd and York Ave is incredibly dangerous. My building is flanked by the on-ramps to the north- and south-bound FDR, and I have great difficulty crossing those streets even with a walk sign. The cars are generally unwilling to stop, and the traffic cops there do nothing to help. Many times they have their back to the crosswalk and are flagging cars through without regard for the people trying to cross. I even had one driver get so upset about having to stop for me, when I had the right of way, that he yelled out the window he was going to rape me.

Jan. 23 2014 10:51 AM
jimmcnicklenyc@gmail.com from Midtown

There has been no discussion of overground or underground passageways, especially at intersections with subways. These are found all over the world many major cities. Also, overpasses across the Westside Highway are desperately needed.

Jan. 23 2014 10:50 AM
Linda P. from NYC

My husband and I cross from the NE corner of B'way/96th St. to head to the subway & know well the hazards. You get off the westbound bus on the NE corner and see the light change for the northbound traffic. Many people dart across to the SE corner assuming that they will have a green light in a moment, unaware that the southbound lane has a green turning signal. Once over on the SE corner, which gets very crowded, there are always people who dash across against a red light because they're racing to the subway. The entrance to the subway, while much wider than it used to be, can be challenging and I think many people are trying to get the edge in getting themselves into the subway. There's a psychological urge to "catch that bus," "catch that subway" that feeds into the dangers of that corner.

Jan. 23 2014 10:50 AM
Diana from upperwestside

I'd like to ask Sam if it is at all possible to return the 96/B'way intersection SUBWAY ENTRANCES TO THE STREET. The meridian subway entrance design is an accident itself!

Jan. 23 2014 10:49 AM
Bob HuDock from Bay Ridge

4th Ave and 86th Sts in Brooklyn are deadly - yet the local CB has rejected numerous ped safety proposals brought to us by the DoT. Hopefully Vivion Zero helps us to overcome local resistance to taming the cars

Jan. 23 2014 10:49 AM
Burroughs Lamar from Harlem

I have lived in NYC for 55 years and have beed a cyclist since 11 years old and driver since 30 years old. with my experience, pedestrians do not look both ways when they enter cross walks nad cut into the street between blocks. And, yes, I have been run over by a car once making a turn down a block. I was not injured but my bike seat was crushed. Safety begins with people being alert and responsible, not lights or lanes changes.

Jan. 23 2014 10:49 AM
theresa from upstate ny

Having lived in the city all my life and never owning a car until ten years ago, I was shocked at the amount of jaywalking that was going on. This is not to excuse irresponsible drivers in any way, but jaywalking is dangerous for pedestrians and drivers and should be cracked down upon.

Jan. 23 2014 10:49 AM
David Pullman from UWS, NYC

I agree 100% with your guest, it is the drivers who need to be checked, not pedestrians. I was crossing 34th St and 9th Av in the pedestrian crosswalk and a car turned right into me. Infuriated I stopped the car, there was a traffic policeman nearby, who not only let the car pass, but behaved as it was my fault. Cars have more rights then pedestrians.
Ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking is inane, go after the cars.

Jan. 23 2014 10:48 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Can Sam talk about the redesign of Grand Army Plaza in Bklyn? With new islands and timing and bike lanes, it seems to work extremely well.

Jan. 23 2014 10:48 AM

Harassing an old Chinese man;part of the policy of police mea culpas' concerning stop and frisk; we'll now show we're contrite by beating up people who don't fit the stop and frisk profile. The politics of identity politics rears its ugly head.

Jan. 23 2014 10:48 AM
Marie from Manhattan

Everyone needs to start obeying the laws - cars running lights, bikers going the wrong way and running lights and pedestrians waiting the walk sign to cross. While streets design needs to be addressed, until everyone obeys the laws, this problem will not be resolved.

Jan. 23 2014 10:47 AM
jm

Houseofcakes: " Or I see someone breaking a traffic law right in front of NYPD." Exactly. Same goes for the 94th Precinct.

Amy from Manhattan: the OMB connection is indeed outrageous, but at least it's a missing link. In other comment threads after each tragic accident, everyone keeps asking who is to blame and you hear the DOT, NYPD, TLC, etc named yet no one can seem to connect the agencies. You'd logically think that the NYPD would enforce traffic, but they're very hesitant to do so. Who is giving them their marching orders, and why?

Jan. 23 2014 10:46 AM
Joan from Nyc

I have had some very close calls when a traffic cop is waving cars through a red light.

Jan. 23 2014 10:46 AM
Ron from Manhattan

Technology - How about cars equipped with audio warnings from a "Siri" type GPS systems that announce to the driver: "Warning. Dangerous Intersection.".

Jan. 23 2014 10:46 AM

I'm a pedestrian, biker and driver. I believe jaywalking is part of pedestrians in NYC asserting their ownership of the streets and making a statement that cars come last, which is correct. Cracking down on them is not the way to go. Enforcing laws that apply to motorized (and deadly) vehicles should be the priority. I live by the Lincoln Tunnel entrance, and I see drivers (especially cabs, sorry) get away with dangerous craziness in front of police ALL the time. The last thing we need is jaywalking tickets.

Jan. 23 2014 10:45 AM
Robin from UWS

Where is the discussion on all the double parked cars and delivery trucks on broadway between 98th and 96th streets on the west side of Broadway. Traffic is usually running only in the outer downtown lane having cars making the right to WEA form the far left further blocking traffic. Morning rush hour is bedlam. As a bicyclist commuting to work it is a dangerous obstacle course of impatient drivers all nudging the car in front and seeking out a free inch to change lanes. As a pedestrian walking to the sub with children there is little sidewalk space to wait on to cross from the SW corner of Broadway to the subway. Additionally, the timing of the lights where cars are turning from North bound to west bound and the walk light is still red but there is no traffic heading downtown encourages jay walking. A redesign is in order. This time speak to the people who use the intersection daily.

Jan. 23 2014 10:44 AM
Aston from Brooklyn

From I'm hearing drivers are to blame for all these accidents. I'm a limo driver and every day I have to avoid hitting a pedestrian who is crossing illegally. They don't pay attention crosswalk sign and sometimes they just don't care. How can it be hat drivers are always at fault? The way the conversation is going, I feel all drivers are being treated as criminals . Even the most cautious drivers can't possibly abide to all the traffic rules.

Jan. 23 2014 10:44 AM
Polly of Columbus Circle from Columbus Circle

The Broadway and 60th crossing is dangerous. Cars wait in the Broadway midway for the light to make the turn into the block on 60th Street between Broadway and Ninth Avenue. It is dangerous for a pedestrian to cross from the southwest side of Broadway and 60th Street to the northwest side of Broadway and 60th Street.

It is safer to jaywalk than to go illegally than to cross legally. The cars can take up the whole time for legal crossing.

Could this crossing be a three way timing: north for cars, west for cars, and a pedestrian only time.

Probably someday a tourist will be hit and the city will pay attention.

Jan. 23 2014 10:43 AM
Ken from UWS

The 24th Precinct, which has been writing the jaywalking tickets and which arrested and sent the 84-year-old man to the hospital for jaywalking, wrote a total of 58 speeding tickets in 2013.

Jan. 23 2014 10:43 AM
Natasha from Downtown Brooklyn

Adams Street near Fulton Mall/Joralemon Street between Downtown Brooklyn & Brooklyn Heights is very dangerous. People do not stop for pedestrians crossing, even if pedestrians have the light. There are schools and day cares located close to this intersection. I was walking with my preschooler with the "walking man" signal and a taxi that had run a light was inching to get through the pedestrian bodies on the crosswalk. There was a traffic cop parked nearby so once we were safely across the street I went up to the cop sitting in the car to explain what happened, so she would be aware of the dangerous situation. She looked at me incrediously and asked me what I wanted her to do about it - she didn't see it because she was reading. What can pedestrians do when we have ZERO support from a law officer who may have been put in place to prevent precisely what happened? I was appalled.

Jan. 23 2014 10:43 AM
melissa from ditmas park

As a pedestrian, driver and bicyclist in this city, I see the most violations made by drivers. Drivers by and large speed throughout the city and I feel like many don't give the right of way where it is due. Nobody seems to have patience any more, and it seems especially dangerous right at the beginning and the end of the light cycle. Many drivers inch into the intersection to make left turns in front of oncoming traffic just after the light turns green while people going the other direction try to speed up to make it through a yellow light. I have never, in 12 years of living in Brooklyn ever seen a driver get pulled over for either of these violations.

Jan. 23 2014 10:42 AM
Randy from Inwood

The biggest problem in upper Manhattan: Dyckman St., Broadway, and Riverside Dr. in Inwood is a pedestrian fatality waiting to happen. Southbound drivers on Broadway are turning right onto Riverside Dr. (to access the Henry Hudson) the same time pedestrians have their walking signal to get across Dyckman and Riverside. The turn is an oblique angle so cars can make it without slowing much at all and the result is there are too many close calls, particularly in the late afternoon (when schools are letting out) as sunlight is obscuring drivers' vision. One simple solution would be a full stop of all Broadway traffic while pedestrian walk signals are on.

Jan. 23 2014 10:41 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Fundamental to any progress on this issue is an INFORMATION CAMPAIGN educating citizens about the (rather arcane) "30' median" rule Sam just relayed, increased enforcement, etc.

Jan. 23 2014 10:41 AM
melissa from ditmas park

As a pedestrian, driver and bicyclist in this city, I see the most violations made by drivers. Drivers by and large speed throughout the city and I feel like many don't give the right of way where it is due. Nobody seems to have patience any more, and it seems especially dangerous right at the beginning and the end of the light cycle. Many drivers inch into the intersection to make left turns in front of oncoming traffic just after the light turns green while people going the other direction try to speed up to make it through a yellow light. I have never, in 12 years of living in Brooklyn ever seen a driver get pulled over for either of these violations.

Jan. 23 2014 10:41 AM
houseofcakes

Oh, and let's talk about how few drivers actually KNOW driving rules and regs? I don't know how people get licenses now, but back in the day, in Ohio (where I got licensed), you had to take a 6 week driving course BEFORE you took the test. Boring as hell, but you actually had to go through all the rules.

Jan. 23 2014 10:40 AM
jm

The DOT also needs to change the rules pertaining to street requirements for speed bumps.

Jan. 23 2014 10:40 AM
Kristen Palazzo from Brooklyn

NYC should change traffic light patterns so that all traffic is completely stopped while pedestrians cross in all directions. This is how it is in London and it is so much more civilized and so much safer. No cars trying to turn while people are crossing. First all the traffic goes in all directions, then all the lights turn red and all the walk lights change to allow people to cross safely.

Jan. 23 2014 10:39 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So the Office of Management & Budget gets to decide which laws get enforced??? What gives them the authority to do that--something in the NYC charter?

Jan. 23 2014 10:39 AM
Joanne

Boerum Hill Bklyn - new slow zone, hasn't made ANY difference. There has been no enforcement.

Jan. 23 2014 10:39 AM
Bklyn from Brooklyn

In Park Slope, my husband and 3 yr old son, who had the white crosswalk
Sign were hit by a car Who was turning and not paying attention( a mother turning to back seat
To address her child). My husband had just enough time to pick up my son and
Protect him as they rolled over the hood of the car. They were both ok.
But it's not safe for pedestrians to cross at the correct time!!!
As parents we say wait for the walk sign- but we should say is.....
What!?

Jan. 23 2014 10:39 AM
Janna from New York City

Every time I've nearly been hit by a car in the city, I was not j-walking. Ticketing j-walkers is not the answer. Regarding dangerous intersections, I was nearly mowed down by several lanes of traffic at Broadway and Dyckman in Inwood, while crossing WITH the pedestrian signal. That traffic pattern definitely needs to be fixed.

Jan. 23 2014 10:38 AM
Frank from brooklyn from Brooklyn

We have seen deaths at the intersection of church avenue and the prospect expressway. One has to ask why there is not a turn signal for cars turning onto the expressway. You have a 10 second buffer and then you must tackle cars and semis turning. This is 7 lanes I traffic to cross. Cars are aggressive. We should always remember that the responsibility to not injure pedestrians with cars is the car driver's. No matter what. My wife saw a little girl get crushed under a glass delivery truck blowing a light this autumn. Should the girls mother had closer control of her daughter? Sure but that truck driver was turning and seemed only concerned with making his turn.
Seriously. I drive in this town and I'm sometimes guilty but I find my self walking for the drivers as much as for myself.

Jan. 23 2014 10:38 AM
jm

Nick, I've been wondering about this as well. I was recently helping a friend after she was the victim of a hit-and-run and my experience with the NYPD was...unsettling.

Does the 311 online interface have a quick way to report drivers that exhibit a blatant disregard for pedestrians? What's the recourse for a pedestrian at that moment (other than throwing rocks)?

And thank you to the guest for just clarifying the OMB connection.

Jan. 23 2014 10:36 AM
Larry from Williamsburg

The worst intersection here in Williamsburg is at Marcy and Metropolitan (and related right turn at Metro & Meeker under BQE). Cars and trucks, desperate to get on the BQE/Wburg bridge, barrel through the left turn there. They do not respect pedestrian right of way when they do not have the left arrow- I have had to dodge vehicles many times and I have seen cars move into crosswalk crowds aggressively. The walk signal is red so long that pedestrians cross against the light (they also cannot see when the arrow is on or not). The vehicles rule in this city- they have the power and we are just in their way (and I say this as someone who drove in NYC for 10 years).

Jan. 23 2014 10:36 AM
RJ from Astoria

Enacting a 20mph NYC speed limit (or even just for Manhattan) would grind NYC to a halt. Anyone who owns a car - go out and drive at 20mph and realize how slow it is. When combined with the start-up lost time that occurs everytime the signals change from red to green (all cars don't move instaneously), the amount of delays (from a traffic engineering stand point) would be insane. Broadway on the UWS isn't a local residential street, it is a primary urban arterial (look the term up) - its purpose is to move large quantities of vehicles through.

This particular intersection presents unique problems with the median subway entrance and overly confusing pedestrian signals. Simply making sure that countdown timers as well as accessible pedestrian signals (APS) are installed should be a big help. Pavement marking are also under-utilized in this country. It sounds silly, but simply painting the crosswalk a bright/obvious color, along with additional arrows, can go miles at helping alert drivers as well as direct pedestrians. There are reasonable, practical solutions to issues at intersections (and everyone one of them is their own special case). Let's not go nuts with drastic, draconian measures that are designed to demonize all vehicular travel.

Jan. 23 2014 10:35 AM
Patty Watwood from Gowanus Brooklyn

Dangerous - Anywhere along Hamilton Avenue between 17th street and Hicks is crazy dangerous to try to cross. Motorists have long stretches where there's no light or crosswalk, and pedestrians trying to cross to Red Hook really have scramble. The idea of foot traffic there seems not to have been considered.

Jan. 23 2014 10:35 AM
houseofcakes from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

The issue is that there is NO enforcement of drivers. I've seen drivers run red lights, pass in an oncoming lane to get to the front of the line, drive in bus-only lanes. Our nabe was told that it was not up to NYPD to enforce traffic but some other agency (state?), so they just sit there. Or I see someone breaking a traffic law right in front of NYPD. The only time I have seen NYPD enforcing drivers are for minor infractions (like a brake light out) or turning right on red (tourists). I witness a Hummer going 50 in a bus-only lane, and was happy to see that a cop DID stop them (rare), but then 5 minutes later, the Hummer zoomed past me doing the exact same thing. Perhaps it's just easier to get the non-speeding tickets.

Jan. 23 2014 10:35 AM
Er-nay from UWS

It's hard to blame the "victim" but people have to stay on the sidewalk and not edge into the street as they do. As both a pedestrian and a driver I'm always amazed at the amount of people standing in the street.

As far as 96th and Broadway, the redesign (as nice as the new station is) is terrible for pedestrians and needs a total do-over.

Jan. 23 2014 10:35 AM
Ron from Manhattan

96th & 3rd - Should be a blinking Red Light for the right turn from 3rd onto 96th. The sight line is obscured by 2 obstacles everyday at most hours: a Produce truck that supplies a Produce Vendor, and a morning, rush hour morning, Coffee & Pastry cart. Cars rush to make the light for that turn, yet usually end up having to stop at the Red light on 96th & 2nd. these are usually commuters rushing to get to the FDR.

Jan. 23 2014 10:35 AM
Gary from Brooklyn

Current default speed limit in NYC is 30 MPH unless otherwise posted. No one including Brian Lehrer knows that. Everyone speeds.
Reducing the default to 20 MPH would still allow the City Council to set it higher where appropriate. Currently it cannot be set below 25 MPH except in certain very limited circumstances

Jan. 23 2014 10:34 AM
Mario from Washington Heights

Dangerous intersections: every block of Canal Street. They need to eliminate parking and widen those sidewalks.

Regarding 96th and Broadway: poor design of the subway entrance. They could have redesigned that station more safely and easily by putting the elevators at the 94th Street entrance to that station instead of the 96th Street entrance. Those entrances are on wide Broadway sidewalks, not in the meridian.

Jan. 23 2014 10:34 AM
RJ from prospect hts

I was ticketed for jaywalking in San Francisco 30 years ago. Don't know if it's the same now, but I was a newcomer from NYC and that was quite a culture shock!

Jan. 23 2014 10:34 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

In defense of jaywalking--the other major offender are cars who usually do not yield to pedestrians, whether we are crossing correctly or not.

And btw, it is my understanding that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way against cars.

Jan. 23 2014 10:32 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

In defense of jaywalking--the other major offender are cars who usually do not yield to pedestrians, whether we are crossing correctly or not.

And btw, it is my understanding that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way against cars.

Jan. 23 2014 10:31 AM
Diana from 98TH

I HATE that intersection. It should be returned to SUBWAY ENTRANCES ON THE SIDEWALKS!

Jan. 23 2014 10:30 AM
oscar from ny

..a lot if Chinese act like they don't know anything like playing dum....now you see what happens

Jan. 23 2014 10:28 AM
Nick from UWS

Since when do "police" officers attack and brutalize 80-year-old men? Where is the psychological screening process in the police department to avoid hiring genetic garbage or testosterone addled morons to be cops?

Jan. 23 2014 10:26 AM
Mira Schor from New York city

I live near the 79th street and Broadway intersection, I'm a healthy 63 year old, and I feel in danger crossing, especially the South side, East/West, when there are cars coming from the West Side Highway and turning right on to Broadway going South while other cars are coming from the East and turning left on to Broadway going South, and they are always in a rush and anxious themselves to get across traffic lanes, while individuals have a few seconds to cross 4 lanes of traffic. There has to be a way of improving the design of the intersection and the timing of the lights . And from my understanding this is a zone which was supposed to be made elderly friendly.

Jan. 23 2014 10:23 AM
Nick from UWS

The 96th St subway entrance is complete crap, pompous garbage, designed with zero consideration of scale to the street, tightly squeezing traffic on either side endangering pedestrians and drivers alike, needlessly causing people in one of the busiest parts of the city to walk in front of moving traffic to get to the subway station. Personally I always use the 93rd St entrances and avoid that monstrous thing like the plague.

Jan. 23 2014 10:21 AM
carolita from nyc

I know that intersection very well. And I also know that the traffic lights are very confusing, and lead to impatient people crossing the street before they should. It's the traffic lights. They need traffic lights with less confusing rhythm. Sometimes you see no traffic at all, in any direction, because the lights have signalled everyone to stop. It means pedestrians feel like they're waiting twice as long as they should. So they start slipping across the street, even when the pedestrian light is red. If they're crossing northbound on 96 on the east side of the street, they can't see how many cars are down the street because of the idling bus and/or the taco truck that's often sitting near the corner. I personally hate that intersection. I prefer to cross at 95th, at the other end of the subway exit.
They either need better signalling, or a crossing guard.

Jan. 23 2014 10:15 AM
Annalyn from Park Slope

Pedestrian WALK signals, countdown clocks and signage are all visual means DOT use to communicate to pedestrians. Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) use audible and tactile information to alert blind and deaf-blind pedestrians that the WALK signal is on. Wide use of these devices can be used to reach sighted pedestrians who are more auditorily oriented, as well as people looking only at their smart phones.

Jan. 23 2014 10:09 AM
Ken from Upper West Side

We can make all the small adjustments at our disposal, but they’re never going to get us to Vision Zero because they don’t address the underlying problem. We have to rethink the assumption that we can squeeze large volumes of fast-moving traffic into streets that were never designed to accommodate it. To achieve Vision Zero, we are going to have to make safety changes that will inevitably restrict motor vehicles and slow them down dramatically.

Jan. 23 2014 10:05 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

I am sure that Kate's suggestion is accurate about the median subway entrance. That particular intersection is completely confusing to pedestrians--this is not your standard jaywalking. Perhaps left turns should be prohibited. We really cannot tell what is the safe way to cross that intersection at 96th Street.

Jan. 23 2014 09:58 AM
Pete from Queens NY

311online does not offer a gateway to report/suggest improvements to intersections or identify hazards. One such hazard is eastbound on 14Ave at Parsons Boulevard in Queens there should likely be a sign reporting the road will soon narrow, as well as possibly a mandated right turn in right lane. I have a photo and a suggestion and no means to put it in.

Also, there is a "no standing" sign that has been knocked over twice in the last two years at this intersection directly related to above hazard. Someone standing on sidewalk could have been injured during these accidents. There doesn't appear to be a city process to evaluate repaired damage in terms of any hazards that might be mitigated to prevent reccurrance in addition to 311.

Jan. 23 2014 09:41 AM
Kate on the Upper West Side

How much was the problem at 96th and Broadway exacerbated when they opened the new subway station in 2010, and moved the entrances from the sidewalks to the median?

Jan. 23 2014 09:38 AM

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