Transportation Nation

Crowded Midtown Manhattan Gets a New Avenue: 6 and 1/2 Ave (in Pictures)

Friday, July 13, 2012

When does a street that's not a street become official? Well, first it needs a name. Then it needs a street sign.  (Photo by Kate Hinds)

Addresses on the avenues of midtown Manhattan bestow a certain prestige for the law firms, TV networks, ad agencies and luxury hotels that populate the glass and steel canyons north of Times Square. So it's a bold move to wedge a new "avenue" in between 6th and 7th Avenues from 51st to 57th street. Or at least the naming is bold. The trail of pedestrian walkways between and under the skyscrapers has long existed as a public secret for midtown office workers looking to save a few minutes on the walk to grab lunch.

But, in giving this stretch of walkways a name, the New York City Department of Transportation is encouraging more walking. Even more than the cute name, they do so by painting crosswalks and stopping traffic mid-block where people already jaywalked with more than the usual amount of New York pavement entitlement (if that's possible).

And if DOT signage isn't official enough, Google Maps already recognizes the avenue. So, as Gawker points out, you can now legitimately tell someone to meet you at 55th Street and 6 1/2.

TN's Kate Hinds took a walk down New York's newest avenue. Here's what it looks like.

 Cars are still getting used to stopping at the mid-block crosswalks that connect the string of covered walkways. (Photo by Kate Hinds)


Even the "Ave" is shorted to "Av" because it's a little street. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

Restaurants within the walkways now have a swanky new second address to use if they like. No word if the Post Office will honor mail sent that way. (Photo by Kate Hinds)


New painted crosswalks also guide pedestrians to the next leg of 6 1/2 Avenue (Photo by Kate Hinds)


Passage north of 54th Street (Photo by Kate Hinds)


57th Street -- the northern end of the avenue (Photo by Kate Hinds)


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Transportation Nation

Topping the Nation in Pedestrian Deaths, Orlando Launches Safety Campaign

Monday, June 04, 2012

Metro Orlando tops the national list of dangerous cities for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America. On average one pedestrian is killed every week and two are injured every day.

Local civic leaders believe a new initiative can reduce the number of crashes and fatalities. They’ve set an ambitious goal of cutting the pedestrian crash rate by 10 per cent a year over the next five years, which they say can be done through a combination of education, enforcement and road improvements.

Launched last week, Best Foot Forward is a joint initiative of Bike Walk Central Florida, local governments, law enforcement and health groups including the Winter Park Health Foundation and Orlando Health.

Coalition chair, former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin, says pedestrian safety should be a priority in Central Florida.

“It’s about safety, of course, because people are dying. They’re dying every week,” says Chapin.

She says drivers and pedestrians both have to change their behavior to bring down the accident rate. She says residents have to make a choice about the kind of city they want to live in.

“Will it be the kind of friendly community we’ve all visited and recognized, where drivers acknowledge pedestrians with a smile and wave as they slow and then stop for a crosswalk?”

With about 730 pedestrian injuries and 45 deaths a year, Orlando has some way to go.

But Mighk Wilson, MetroPlan Orlando’s Smart Growth Planner, says bringing the rate down by 10 per cent a year can be done.

“It certainly is ambitious, but it is doable. Fatalities are really tough to deal with,” says Wilson Reducing crashes as a whole has to be more of the strategy.”

Wilson says one design fix will be to increase street lighting, although that can be expensive.

Another improvement is retrofitting roads with medians.

“Having a refuge in the middle of a roadway greatly improves safety for pedestrians,” says Wilson.

Ultimately, he says, a lot of the responsibility for preventing crashes falls on drivers.

“What we’ve forgotten as a culture is that there are crosswalks at every intersection, whether they’re marked or not,” he says.

“While it’s true that many crashes involve a pedestrian who’s crossing mid block and doesn’t yield to traffic in the roadway, they could walk fifty feet over to the nearest intersection and cross in an unmarked crosswalk, but no one’s going to recognize that crosswalk.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (third from left) wants to curb Metro Orlando's pedestrian death toll

So the coalition will also focus on educating pedestrians to use crosswalks, and letting drivers know Florida’s law requires them to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians can expect to get tickets.

“There will be individuals who initially when we begin will be given warnings, then they’ll be cited,” says Demings.

“The best way we probably can change the behavior of pedestrians and drivers is to ensure that we have appropriate enforcement.”

Bike Walk Central Florida says it will cost about 350 thousand dollars a year to roll out its program across Orange County; it’s applying for a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to help with funding. The money will be used for education programs for pedestrians, drivers and law enforcement officers, and low cost road improvements.

Meanwhile the city of Orlando is also trying to make the environment safer for pedestrians. Currently it’s halfway through a 4 million dollar, federally funded program to add 18 miles of sidewalks to city streets.



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Transportation Nation

Weekend Video: The Running Man Crosswalk Countdown Timer in Guadalajara

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For your weekend enjoyment here's a variation on the crosswalk countdown timer from Guadalajara, Mexico, a more festive, kinder, gentler prod to pick up the pace.

This is what a crosswalk signal would look like if MC Hammer were the DOT commissioner.

Streetfilms Shortie - Crosswalk Running Man (Guadalajara) from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Captured by Streetfilms. (h/t Greater City Providence)

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Transportation Nation

Pedestrian Countdown Clocks Placed At Dangerous NYC Intersections

Monday, April 11, 2011

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.

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