Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday that starting later this month, pedestrian countdown signals will be installed at 1,500 initial intersections across the city. The action follows the release of the Pedestrian Safety and Action Plan, a review of 7,000 crash records that has been called the largest pedestrian safety study done in the nation's history.
Bloomberg pointed out that despite a decline in pedestrian fatalities, many families continue to be devastated by traffic accidents.
“The report and actions detailed today, including the installation of pedestrian countdown signals across the city, will make our streets even safer, especially for the pedestrians who, year in and year out, account for the majority of New York's traffic fatalities,” he said on a street corner in Corona Monday morning.
Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan added, “Crossing a street shouldn't just be a judgment call. These signals can help cut out any guesswork in crossing busy intersections to keep pedestrians from being caught in the middle of a dangerous situation.” She also announced an upcoming pilot program that would implement neighborhood 20 m.p.h. zones intended to slow traffic on an area-wide basis rather than on an individual street basis. A pilot neighborhood has not yet been selected.
Sadik-Khan highlighted key findings from the Pedestrian Safety and Action Plan: most New Yorkers do not realize the city's standard speed limit is 30 m.p.h.; pedestrian fatalities were down nearly 20 percent from 2001; pedestrian accidents on major street corridors are about two-thirds deadlier than on smaller streets; and 79 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private cars, not taxis, trucks or buses.
In Queens, pedestrian countdown signals will be installed on Queens Boulevard from Van Dam Street to Hillside Avenue. In Brooklyn, they will be installed on 4th Avenue from Pacific to 65th streets.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, whose district recently received several countdown signals on Northern Boulevard, said that her office constantly gets complaints about the dangerous situation on the busy boulevard, which seniors have to cross to get to their senior center and families have to cross to get to the community swimming pool. She hailed the move as a victory for pedestrians.
“Crossing Northern Boulevard is a part of their everyday lives,” said Ferreras. “We are now empowering pedestrians with the time because they know how long they have to cross the street.”