Signs of Crooked Pedestrian Priorities


A pedestrian crossing sign slants over the middle of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, meant to remind drivers that human beings may try to cross the seven lanes of moving traffic on foot.  It is little comfort to the pedestrians standing exposed on the 2 foot wide median noticing that the sign was recently run into.

For the pedestrians that are not forced to walk in the street on Canal Street, many are forced to duck out of the way of the pedestrian warning sign that for years has been leaning away from the view of the drivers it is meant to inform. 

Of course, on Queens Boulevard (and in many locations where DOT faces a pattern of pedestrian safety problems), there are no signs asking drivers to watch for people walking and the prominent signage is more direct in putting all of the responsibility and the fear into the hearts of pedestrians.  "A pedestrian was killed crossing here.  Be alert, cross with care."

Perhaps the NYC DOT Signs and Markings division could take some inspiration from Metuchen, NJ, and the Automobile Association of America (the core of the automobile lobby) where they have together taken the initiaitve to sponsor a full banner to enforce priority for pedestrians.

  • AD

    Great post Ethan. Help for pedestrians is all the more important on Fourth Avenue since four subway lines run underneath it.

  • Man, New Jersey is kicking our butt…

  • jeremy
  • Ananda

    Regarding the first three pictures: Is this what a city that loves its inhabitants looks like? No. What message do the subtle elements of our NYC street environment reinforce to us on a daily basis? “This city cares about you, values you, prioritizes your safety and quality of life”? Nope. That’s pretty sad when you think about it.

  • Jeremy

    Thanks for pointing those out. Imagine ads targeting young females urging them to dress down and cover up to avoid the chance of getting raped.

    Look at this cartoon that the DOT has on their website done by a kid

    Look at the frowns on the faces of the pedestrians…it makes walking look like such a pain in the butt.

  • Yes! I know that stretch of 4th Avenue in Brooklyn and, yes, it’s pretty damned bad, right up there with various intersections a bit further north, around BAM.

  • Nicolo Macchiavelli

    Yeah, Fourth Ave. is really an exit ramp for the BQE-Belt Pkwy-Gowanus-Prospect-Expressway. The roads that attach to the exits and entrances of the limited access highways deserve special attention for traffic calming. The southern reaches of Flatbush Ave. around Kings Plaza are notoriously precarious for pedestrians and regularly score high on the killed by auto statistics. There it is the access to the Belt Parkway coupled with the giant parking lots at Kings Plaza and recently the Home Depot (Agent Orange). Lots of auto magnets plus lots of pedestrians equals lots of accidents. They recently “improved” the intersection at Ave. U and Flatbush to add another turning lane, that will really help out!

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