Eyes on the Street: Safer Intersections for Young and Old on the UWS

66th_refuge_2.jpg

Reader Lisa Sladkus sent in these photos of new pedestrian refuges on West End Avenue in the 60s. Above is the refuge that just went in at 66th Street, and after the jump you can see one on 61st Street. Both are awaiting plantings in their tree pits.

These refuges are the most visible improvements in DOT’s Safe Streets for Seniors project on the Upper West Side [PDF], one of 25 areas where street safety measures are slated to help reduce the risk of traffic injuries for older New Yorkers. The UWS project will also lengthen walk signals, install leading pedestrian intervals to give pedestrians a head start before traffic can turn into the crosswalk, and add curb extensions at more than a dozen street corners on Amsterdam, Broadway, and Central Park West. Some of those neckdowns have started to pop up already, and more are coming in the next two years, once the Department of Design and Construction gets down to it.

Other neighborhoods receiving Safe Streets for Seniors improvements this summer are Chinatown, Jamaica Hills, Borough Park, Midwood, and Sheepshead Bay (where safer streets go unappreciated by Brooklyn Community Board 15).

66th_refuge.jpg

61st_Street.jpg

  • momos

    This is fantastic! West End Ave is a street crying out for a safety overhaul. There are several homes for the elderly and many active seniors along its edges. Yet the huge existing expanse of asphalt makes crossing difficult and dangerous, and West End’s vast width encourages high-speed vehicle traffic in what is a dense residential neighborhood.

  • StreetsEducation worked with this year with Border Crossers on a project with students from PS 191 and the Gateway School to study the street. I can’t wait to see the students’ faces when they see this transformation to WEA right near their school. This is great work.

  • Bring it to the 90s!

  • BicyclesOnly

    Definitely would love to see this in on WEA the 80s where my son goes to school!

  • Blair Mastbaum

    Why New York fails to include stormwater swales in their new streetscapes is a mystery to me.

  • ChrisCo

    If they really cared about the seniors they’d reduce the number of moving lanes on ALL the wide Avenues in Manhattan. But I guess these measures are better than nothing….sigh.

  • J

    ChrisCo,

    It’s a gradual process. You can’t knock out lots of lanes all at once – it takes time for traffic to adjust. The gradual approach, while not ideal in terms of safety, is effective at making the changes permanent and not inspiring a backlash. Add a refuge here, take a lane there, retime signals here. After 20 years, it’s a completely different city.

    Also, DOT has removed lanes on many Manhattan Aves. 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, & 9th aves all lost travel lanes for the cycle tracks and/or buffered bike lanes. Granted the buffered bike lanes don’t really make crossing much easier for peds. The change is happening, it just takes time.

  • Shemp

    You’re wrong about the protected bike lanes not making crossing easier for peds – ped crashes on streets like 9th, 8th and Bway are all down.

  • JK

    Great to see DOT moving ahead with Safe Streets for Seniors, and I hope they use it as a vehicle to push even more pedestrian improvements across the city. It was also encouraging to see Dep Mayor Gibbs including Safe Seniors on her list of core initiatives for Seniors. Everyone should walk more, especially seniors, and knocking down barriers like West End Avenue is an important step in that direction. Given how vulnerable seniors are to fast turning cars, maybe seniors can also be enlisted to support speed and red light cams.

  • ChrisCo

    >>ChrisCo,

    It’s a gradual process. You can’t knock out lots of lanes all at once – it takes time for traffic to adjust.<<

    I'm not talking about that. Even knocking out one lane from each Manhattan Avenue would slow traffic, and reduce crossing widths. It may create chaos for motorists, but that would only help convince them to take the subway faster than otherwise. Only a small fraction of those cars NEED to be on the road (deliverymen, etc.). Most don't.

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