Thursday, September 20, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY -- WNYC) The one-word street markings started appearing around Manhattan in mid-summer. An eagle-eyed TN reporter snapped a photo of one and, with no help from the city's tight-lipped Department of Transportation, deduced it was the start of a new pedestrian safety campaign.
That $1 million campaign has now been officially launched with the help of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who joined NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at the corner of Second Avenue and 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan to show off an oversized stencil that read "LOOK!"
The emphatic order is meant to be spotted by a pedestrian with his head buried in a smartphone as he launches into traffic. The "O's" in LOOK! also double as eyeballs pointing toward a presumed onslaught of vehicles. Sadik-Khan said New Yorkers need the heads-up: more than half of those killed in city traffic accidents are pedestrians. She added that at that very corner, 75 people were hurt in crashes between 2006 and 2010.
The LOOK! markings are installed at 110 crash-prone intersections throughout the city, with 90 more to come.
LaHood said it's critical for pedestrians to remain alert while crossing the street because even when they're in the right, they can still be hurt--more than half of all New Yorkers killed last year by cars at a crosswalk had the green light. "Having the right-of-way does not guarantee your safety," he said. "Hold off on emailing or texting until you've crossed the street."
Sadik-Khan said she got the idea for the markings when she visited London and came across its well-known suggestions to "Look Left" or "Look Right" before crossing.
The NYC DOT isn't putting the burden of safety solely on walkers. The LOOK! campaign includes ads on the backs of buses that admonish motorists to "Drive Smart / LOOK!" Other ads tell drivers to yield to pedestrians when turning at an intersection.
A NYC DOT spokesman said the campaign is largely funded by the Federal Highway Administration.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Kate Hinds
(UPDATED with new photo) That's message of a new street treatment being tested by the New York City Department of Transportation. We photographed this one at the corner of Second Avenue and 79th Street, on Manhattan's East Side.
The sign faces people about to step into the intersection and cross the street -- meaning it's oriented to pedestrians, not drivers or bicyclists.
The message comes at a time when nationally, streets are getting less safe for pedestrians. The federal government recently released a report that found pedestrian deaths were up 4% in 2010. Another report says older pedestrians in the New York City metropolitan area are more than twice as likely to be killed by cars or trucks than those under age 60.
We asked the NYC Department of Transportation all kinds of questions about the LOOK! street marking: Is it part of a campaign to combat distracted walking? Will there be more markings? If so, where and when?
Department spokesman Seth Solomonow declined to elaborate. "We'll be get back to you when we have more info," he said.
But a colleague recently snapped a photo at a bus shelter -- also, as it turns out, on the Upper East Side -- that makes it clear the LOOK signs are a larger campaign. "Traffic injuries are avoidable," reads a poster. "Look before you cross the street."
And, as the blog Bowery Boogie notes, the signs are also making an appearance downtown.