NYCDOT Releases Landmark Ped Safety Study, Will Pilot 20 MPH Zones

To make walking safer, New York City will re-engineer 60 miles of streets per year and pilot the use of neighborhood-scale 20 mph zones, the city’s top electeds and transportation officials announced this morning. The commitments are among several street safety measures unveiled today, accompanying NYCDOT’s release of a landmark report analyzing the causes of serious pedestrian injuries and deaths, which affect thousands of New Yorkers every year.

arterials.jpgNYCDOT will build out at least 20 miles of "intensive" safety improvements each year to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities on the city’s most dangerous streets. Graphic courtesy of NYCDOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and NYPD transportation chief James Tuller were all on hand for the press event in Queens where the initiative was announced.

“We’ve made historic gains in reducing traffic fatalities, and this
year we are seeing pedestrians fatalities decline again,” Bloomberg
said in a statement. “But we still see too many families 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.”

The report, which you can download here, analyzes crashes that caused 7,000 serious pedestrian injuries and deaths in New York City. Among the findings: Driver inattention is the most common cause of crashes that seriously injure or kill pedestrians; failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk is responsible for 27 percent of such crashes; speeding is a factor in more than 20 percent of such crashes, but most New Yorkers don’t know the citywide speed limit is 30 mph.

DOT has outlined a range of actions to meet the agency’s goal of cutting pedestrian fatalities to half the 2007 level by 2030, a target set in its strategic plan, known as Sustainable Streets, in 2008. Each year, the agency will re-engineer 60 miles of streets to improve safety. Along these corridors, at least 20 miles of streets will receive "intensive" safety improvements, such as sidewalk widenings or pedestrian refuges, that alter the geometry of the street. DOT will also launch the city’s first 20 mph zone in a yet-to-be-selected neighborhood in 2011, part of a pilot program intended to "slow traffic on an area-wide, rather than individual street, basis." The citywide roll-out of 1,500 pedestrian countdown signals, which Bloomberg referred to, comes after a DOT pilot showed that they reduce injuries and that pedestrians prefer them to regular signals.

The investment in designing safer streets will be paired with several traffic enforcement and education measures. We’ll have a more detailed re-cap, with highlights from the press conference, later today.

  • I hope some of these fixes occur on the UWS. Intersections at Broadway and major side streets are especially dangerous and in need of traffic calming.

  • I hope this includes changes to Greenpoint’s McGuinness Blvd.

    It’s like a highway running through a densely-populated neighborhood. Traffic speeds are often (and greatly) in excess of the posted 30mph, accidents are frequent, and pedestrians are frequently stranded on very narrow median strips, inches from speeding traffic.

  • The report also found (by omission) that the danger posed by cyclists to pedestrians is not even worthy of mention in a 55-page report. I wonder if CBS2 will get that message.

  • Chris

    This is great news. Slowing down to 20MPH will really get things in line with the speed at which people can see what is going on around them.

  • Stan

    New rules won’t help if they aren’t enforced. We need a city-wide network of automated speed/cameras that guarantee that speeders will get a ticket.

    The current system allows people to get away with reckless behavior, why would we expect a lower speed limit to change anything?

  • JamesR

    The stuff in there about cooperation between NYPD and DOT gives me hope, as NYPD’s unwillingness to enforce motorists’ infractions has been the elephant in the room forever. This is a good document – props to NYCDOT for putting this together.

  • ddartley

    Long overdue.

    Trying to do 30 or more doesn’t even get you anywhere faster in this city than sticking to 20. There’s never been any justification in the world for 30 being the default in an environment like this. This is one small step in a very right direction; still far far to go.

    Although there may be crashes in the report where “driver inattention” was a named factor and speeding was not, there’s still this: reduce speeds and driver inattention becomes profoundly less deadly–particularly if the speeds in question are around 30.

    Good job, and keep it up.

  • MRN

    @BicyclesOnly – ommission doesn’t mean it’s “not worthy” of mention. Pedestrian deaths via bicycle collision is almost certainly rare, but it does happen.

    Overall I think the 20mph limit is good. Bike riders will now be capable of exceeding the limit, however. I’m kind of curious why this is only being deployed in one neighborhood?

    Also, Stan is correct, this needs to come with better enforcement. If people are already exceeding the posted speed limit, changing the speed limit won’t change any behavior without enforcement. Or speed bumps/bump outs/etc.

  • MRN, the latest authoritative research on pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists (see page 30) indicates that such events occur, on average, once a year (11 in a ten year period).

    Like I said, not worthy of mention, as against 246 traffic deaths caused by all causes. Falling branches have contributed in the same number of pedestrians deaths annually as cyclists have.

  • I love that the Action Plan includes an overhaul of the DMV driver’s ed materials to highlight vulernable road users:

    Update Driver’s Education Curriculum
    DOT will work with New York State DMV to incorporate more information regarding urban driving, pedestrian and bicycle safety in the Driver’s
    Education curriculum and in the training materials for Driver’s Education instructors.

    I wonder if DMV has actually signed onto this program …?

  • I nominate Astoria for the neighborhood level speed reduction. Drivers accelerate so quickly on some of the side streets that they mucy get up to 40-50 mph regularly.

  • Read the comments on the NYT article on this:
    http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/nyregion/17walk.html?sort=oldest

    Only two comments before some claims that one way to reduce the number of pedestrians being killed by motor vehicles would be to crack down on (drum roll) bikes.

    That’s psychosis. Truly: a deep-seated psychosis.

  • ddartley

    Stan and MRN, if NYC follows the example of 20 mph zones elsewhere around the world, then don’t worry, the zones will incorporate a lot more than just the posting of a lower speed limit.

  • poncho

    I absolutely love this. New York is really making huge progress now.

    But, if you dont do anything about the current street design, the lower speed limit will be ineffective and completely disregarded (not that it isnt now). Motorists drive at the speed they feel comfortable going and unfortuntely for the last 80 years we’ve been constructing and modifying highly urban city streets where cars and trucks feel very comfortable going 50+ mph. If you have streets designed for fast speeds with wide lanes and no on-street parking traffic will continue to speed. As far as I’m concerned, you definitely have to reduce the lane widths, change signal timing (which I assume will happen) and maybe return to two-way traffic among other traffic calming measures.

  • capt subway

    To slow the traffic down they should return all the north/south avenues in Manhattan back to being two way, as they once were. One way traffic on this broad avenues just promotes weaving and speeding.

    In addition, on these same avenues they should given back to pedestrians the sidewalk space that was stolen from them in the 1950s, when the city CUT BACK the sidewalks in order to squeeze in another lane of traffic.

  • @poncho,

    All well and good, but then how do you expect anyone to cross the street, parallel park, get safely out of his car, or walk her dog? 😉

    On a more serious note, great job, NYCDOT!

  • The real problem is that the roads of today are DESIGNED for a speed 20% OVER the posted speed limit. What happens is just about everyone goes over the posted speed limit because the road FEELS like it can take it.

    If one wants to reduce the speed limit, we have to narrow the lanes.

  • J. Mork

    So which Mayoral Candidate has pledged to keep on JSK? That’s who will get my vote.

  • MRN

    @J Mork,
    unfortunately, at the last go round, the (democratic) candidates couldn’t promise to fire her fast enough!

    Then again, their voter bases are the blue and lower-class voters in the outerboroughs, not the Manhattanites and brownstone-Brooklynites (like myself) who benefit the most from her areas of focus, so it’s hard to blame them. But their criticisms of her were basically completely made-up or invalid.

  • Moser

    The report shows that two-way streets account for a substantially disproportionate number of ped fatalities in the city. It also shows that roadway and lane narrowing (see bike lanes), which some people here seem for some reason to think is not happening all over the city, has a strong overall safety effect.

  • poncho

    The report shows that two-way streets account for a substantially disproportionate number of ped fatalities in the city.

    Yeah because all the two way roads are the absolute widest roads in the city. So wide that Moses and friends didnt see it necessary to convert them decades ago to one ways. Queens Blvd anyone???

    Its the least wide and moderately wide streets that were converted to one ways that need to go back to two-way and in doing so will improve the safety for pedestrians. Return 40 ft wide street RoWs (street wall to street wall) back to slow local neighborhood streets instead of their current highway-like thru-streets shoehorned into these old 18th-19th century narrow streets.

  • Jay

    The supposed benefits of two-way streets are a myth.

    Look at any historic photo of Madison Square and compare it to all the surplus space pedestrians have been able to reclaim with the simpler traffic patterns of one-way streets.

    Or just consider the safety report that started this discussion. Left turns are dangerous on two-way streets. Why? When a driver has to make the implicit choice between watching for other cars when making a left turn across oncoming traffic, and watching for pedestrians in the crosswalk, the people on foot are going to lose every time.

    Any day I would rather have one-way streets that move traffic more efficiently, so that the excess signal time and/or roadway space can be repurposed for urbane, pedestrian use. I really don’t want to multiply the opportunities for careless drivers to hit me as I cross the street!

  • Peter Smith

    No more pedestrian refugees, please! If you can’t design a street that treats pedestrians with respect, then quit your job and go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

    Pedestrians refuges are just an excuse, or justification, for creating or keeping speed-inducing raised medians — that garbage has to stop. Install separated bike cycletracks so we can provide safety and dignity to both pedestrians and cyclists, while at the same time making everyone safer on the road.

    It’s just common sense.

  • ChrisCo

    >>The report also found (by omission) that the danger posed by cyclists to pedestrians is not even worthy of mention in a 55-page report. I wonder if CBS2 will get that message.<<

    Don't tell that to Brooklyn's Moron McMarkowitz, lol.

  • Sean

    As someone else noticed, the New York Times covered this story and the attached comments section did contain a number of posts about bicyclists disregarding traffic rules and being a menace. Sadly, on my commute home this evening (by bicycle), I didn’t see a single cyclists to prove them wrong. Everyone I encountered ran the red light at intersections; there was “salmoning” per usual; and the highlight: a pair of idiots on fixed gears blowing through an intersection and a red light so quickly that I had to lunge for my brakes and swerve to avoid them.

    Sure, studies like this show that motorists’ bad behavior is more dangerous than cyclists’ bad behavior. But cyclists could have so much more credibility and muscle to criticize if they could just set a good example themselves. I would be very happy to see this happen.

  • capt subway

    In response to Jay et al: the north/south avenues have been turned into dangerous speedways which promote reckless driving. Making them two way would slow things down considerably. As to left turns: you prohibit them except at certain intersections where you’d install left turn signals.

  • Boris

    I don’t have to read a report to know that converting two-way streets to one-way makes them more dangerous. My neighborhood was converted around 4 years ago. My street is so narrow that two SUVs going in opposite directions couldn’t pass each other; one had to half-pull into the parking lane. I think this was fine, because it forced every driver to go very slowly and deliberately, and the neighborhood (a former bungalow colony on Staten Island) sees little traffic.

    Now, after one-waying, cars rev their engines to fly down the block, because the drivers know nobody should be coming at them. There is much more speeding and noise pollution than before.

  • Sean, how exactly do “cyclists”, a word meaning all humans who step onto a bicycle, have or not have credibility? Do rollerbladers have this vaunted credibility? Speedwalkers? What about those eccentric souls on pogo sticks?

    I do not understand why people are supposed to behave like a bunch of monks, or like a bunch of anything, just because they have decided to pedal efficiently around the city. And more to the point, I do not understand how person-upon-bicycle “credibility” is necessary or relevant to research that shows the rate of automobiles killing pedestrians can be reduced at minimal cost and inconvenience. In fact I think that anyone who would choose to let old people, children, and everyone crossing the street continue to be killed by automobiles for no advantage loses their individual credibility in public policy from their own individual positions. Regardless of however the hell they transport their bodies around the city.

  • Jay

    Sorry capt subway, but converting the one-way avenues in Manhattan to two-way streets is a solution looking for a problem. It would do nothing beneficial, and would create plenty of problems of its own.

    There are other, much safer, efficient, and urbane ways to address any speed problems on these streets (for starters, you could simply change the signal progression…)

    Adding a left-turn signal requires both signal time and storage space. That is time and space that should belong to pedestrians. And… if you’ve ever watched any intersection in NYC with a left-turn phase, you would know that they become both dangerous and ineffective because the pedestrians don’t respect them.

    To Boris’s point, different treatments work differently depending on the context. I’m sure he would agree that the same solution is not going to work for every different problem. Some streets are more appropriate as two-way streets, but that simply is not the case when it comes to the avenues in Manhattan.

  • Jay

    …and I cannot stress enough just how much, as a cyclist, I prefer bike lanes on one-way streets because there is so much less risk of getting hit with a door on the passenger-side!

  • Jay, if you’re interested I could dig up some bus improvement standards that say that two-way operation is better for buses than one-way pairs. With signal priority, north-south buses would not be stuck in red lights despite the loss of the green wave.

    The only benefit of one-way pairs for livable cities is that if the green light is set to a low travel speed, then it can cue cars to slow down. This is not possible on a two-way street. But during the daytime, travel speed is not high enough for this to be a major factor; on the contrary, two-way operation would introduce more stop-and-go traffic to the avenues, slowing cars down.

    But I agree that left-turn signals are counterproductive. I’ll add an anecdote that in the city I grew up in, the overreliance on turn signals has made it difficult to cross major streets: pedestrians don’t get green lights for long, and when the street has a median, the pedestrian crossing lights on the two halves of the streets are not synchronized.

  • ChrisCo

    Of course two way streets are better for buses than one way pairs. Were Manhattan’s Avenues two-way, there could be north-south service on every Avenue. Who wants to walk 700 feet East, wait for a slow-moving bus, then got off the bus and walk back West for 700 feet just to reach their destination?

    Two-way streets also slow traffic simply because they are less efficient in moving traffic. One-way streets are too efficient, ie., they work too well. This is bad for pedestrians and cyclists. And the extra distance you often have to travel as a motorist means that it is bad for them as well (see my bus passenger example above).

    The only thing one-way streets are good for is efficiently moving lots of cars at high speeds. Is this what we want, or do we want streets with calmer traffic where pedestrians feel welcome?

  • Great news! This will transform this city.

  • Jay

    Alon, yes I would be interested in the bus improvement standards. I’m always interested in more quality information!

    It’s never been clear to me how well the signal progression works for buses, as they fall out of the progression when they make stops. But what is more clear is that the efficiency that signal progression offers general traffic, along with the greater number of lanes when an avenue operates one-way, has always made it easier to make a traffic engineering case, as well as the political one, to create dedicated lanes for transit and bikes.

    ChrisCo’s argument that people can’t walk one block to catch a bus symptomatic of the attitudes that are making America so obese. It also overstates the actual effect, as many people will not be originating and terminating their trip on both ends on the same avenue anyway.

    Worse is the concept of using inefficient streets as a sort of capacity constraint to discourage general purpose traffic. The very notion is a horrific assault on urban design! If the goal is to further constrain capacity for general purpose traffic, we can eliminate lanes (particularly at entrance points) and reduce lane width. Then we can use more of our limited urban real estate for something much more positive – bike lanes, cafes, you name it! Dedicating our limited public space to inefficient transportation would be a waste of space, and the frustrated drivers stuck in complex, congested intersections in the midst of dense pedestrian areas would surely increase the risks to people on foot.

  • Jay

    Can somebody please explain to me how one-way streets are supposed to be worse for bicycles?

    They put the cyclist on the passenger-side door instead of the driver-side.

    One-way streets offer more flexibility to create dedicated lanes for bikes.

    They require fewer left turns across oncoming traffic.

    Yes… the need to go around the block is a minor inconvenience. Even that can be mitigated by grouping bike parking toward the ends of the blocks so you can lock up at the avenue and then just walk the rest of that block to your destination…

  • Sean

    @Nathan H – I’ve answered your question below.

    Cheers!

    Sean

    “Sean, how exactly do “cyclists”, a word meaning all humans who step onto a bicycle, have or not have credibility?”
    (By behaving lawfully cyclists and everyone else gains credibility. Sure individuals make their own decisions, but collectively their actions identify a group.)

    “Do rollerbladers have this vaunted credibility? Speedwalkers? What about those eccentric souls on pogo sticks?”
    (It depends on their behavior.)

    “I do not understand why people are supposed to behave like a bunch of monks, or like a bunch of anything, just because they have decided to pedal efficiently around the city.”
    (Because doing so ensures the safety and a good quality of life for all. The same applies for all road users.)

    “And more to the point, I do not understand how person-upon-bicycle “credibility” is necessary or relevant to research that shows the rate of automobiles killing pedestrians can be reduced at minimal cost and inconvenience.”
    (It’s not. Like I mentioned in my post it’s just a topic that came up in the NYT’s comment section.)

    “In fact I think that anyone who would choose to let old people, children, and everyone crossing the street continue to be killed by automobiles for no advantage loses their individual credibility in public policy from their own individual positions. Regardless of however the hell they transport their bodies around the city.” (I agree.)

    Now I think we should cease this discussion. These grad school word games don’t really go anywhere. Also, I don’t want to dilute the discussions happening here about street design. These are more important. Take care.

  • Peter Smith

    The two-waying of all of NYC’s streets is as inevitable as the march of time, and it will be a tremendous boon for the city, so go ahead and hop on the bandwagon, now — get on the right side of history. There will be some catastrophes on the way, like 34th (aka ‘No Biking’) Street, but even that will eventually be corrected.

  • Peter Smith

    Dude! I just found another great streetfilm — this one on the junkiness of one-way streets and the awesomeness of two-way streets!

    StreetFilms is like a bottomless gold mine that keeps on giving!

  • MK

    “One crash is one crash too many” is the kind of ambitious and heroic safety target we’ve long needed to humanize NYC streets. This should be the slogan for a new DOT campaign. And then JSK can be appointed Transport Secretary and make Vision Zero a national policy like they have in Sweden.

  • wanderer

    I certainly hope New York’s streets are humanized. The two way to one way conversions of Manhattan’s north-south avenues certainly were part of the urban renewal re-engineering of the city. One way streets can be humane, but rarely when they’re that wide, unless you used signal timing that deliberately stopped traffic when it didn’t have to. (I wouldn’t expect a bus on every avenue, that’s needlessly close together, even for Manhattan. But your bus stop in one direction could be across the street from your bus stop in the other direction).

    I do think the question of bicycle/pedestrian crashes was dropped a little too quickly. It’s good to know that bicyclists aren’t actually killing pedestrians, but how often are they hitting them and injuring them. Every day I see near misses at a stop sign that bicyclists routinely ignore–even when there are pedestrians present. The other thing is that bicycles whizzing past pedestrians a couple of inches away from them helps create a negative environment for pedestrians. This goes to the credibility of bicycle advocates.

  • Jay

    A wide one-way street is only half as unfriendly as a wide two-way street.

    So let’s get real.

    You can go watch pedestrians cross the avenues in Manhattan all day, every day, well before the light changes. (Most of you probably do this yourselves on a regular basis.) This is relatively safe and comfortable because the signal progression organizes the traffic, which clears the intersection before the light changes under most circumstances. Pedestrians can watch a single direction of traffic to safely judge if they can make it all the way across without getting run over.

    That would never, ever, be possible on a two-way street of that width. 1) The traffic would not clear before the light changed. 2) Peds wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on all the potential directions they could get hit at once.

    Of course, this is Manhattan, and pedestrians would walk out anyway… and they would get hit.

    It is beyond absurd to claim that the avenues would be safer or more convenient for pedestrians if they became two-way streets. Let’s set aside the silly rhetoric, open our eyes, and deal with the real issues in the places we live.

  • Joe R.

    I’m not sure much good is going to be accomplished here, and this is speaking as both a cyclist and a pedestrian. The real reason for the problems in the report are the conflicting requirements of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. Motorists often have blind spots, and often their attention is fully occupied by other motorists when making turns. Therefore, they might miss seeing a pedestrian despite their best efforts. Pedestrians move slowly. More often than not they simply can’t get across the street in time to avoid being stuck in front of turning cars. Cyclists have a differing set of problems. While they move fast enough to get out of the way of cars, and have much better visability, they simply lack the power to stop and start very often. As such, it is simply physically impossible for them to stop at red lights in an environment where lights are at every corner, and poorly timed for a cyclist’s speed of travel.

    What is the end result of all this? Pedestrians try to squeeze through crosswalks whenever there is a pause in traffic. Drivers try to squeeze in turns during windows often lasting for only a few seconds. Cyclists try to keep in motion as much as possible, only slowing or stopping if their path is physically blocked. It’s a perfect storm for accidents to occur.

    Bottom line-if the city really wants to take these studies to heart, then either ban most motor vehicles, or build a completely grade-separated network for pedestrians and cyclists. What might work is an elevated walkway/bikeway built about 15 feet above existing sidewalks, with stairs every block for pedestrians, and a ramp every few blocks for cyclists. Have the bike guideway about 6 or 7 feet higher than the pedestrian guideway so it never intersects the pedestrian guideway. No idea what this will cost, but if we insist on keeping private cars and taxis in the city, then in my opinion we really have no other options. The current situation of mixing everything just creates conflicts, and slows everyone down ( motorists most of all ).

    And as for 20 mph speed zones, that’s a big thumbs down from me. Granted I normally can’t exceed this limit by much on my bike, except on downhills, and even then I rarely get over 35 mph. And as a cyclist I would certainly appreciate cars slowed enough so I can keep up with them. However, the big problem I see is that 20 mph limits will either be largely ignored, or will greatly increase travel times if they aren’t. I’m not referring here to motorist’s travel times. I couldn’t care less if the mostly from the suburbs motorists who clog our streets took two more hours to get where they’re going. No, I’m referring to the slowdowns it will cause to public transit, namely buses. In the outer boroughs subways are sparse. Buses are the way many without cars who can’t or won’t bike get around. I’m hoping city policy eventually discourage a lot of driving. This will be great in that it will allow buses to run faster. However, a 20 mph limit will fly in the face of that. So maybe a compromise-20 mph for cars/trucks, keep the limit at 30 mph for buses, and perhaps even allow higher speeds than that in designated bus lanes. Not sure what to do about bikes. Most cyclists can’t exceed even a 20 mph limit by much anyway, but if the day comes when velomobiles become popular then a 20 mph speed limit, even a 30 mph limit, might actually be an issue. But cross that bridge when we come to it. Anyway, the general idea here is to make public transit and even cycling faster than driving. That one thing alone will get a lot of people out of their cars.

    One more thing-once auto traffic is down enough that traffic can operate on a see and be seen basis, let’s please remove 95% of these traffic lights. Cyclists often don’t stop for lights because first they’re poorly timed, and second there are simply far too many of them. Needing to stop every block or two for a light is not only ridiculous, but exhausting. It also totally kills any speed advantage a cyclist has over walking. A competent, fit cyclist in the city can average 15 mph or greater while still slowing or stopping as needed to give pedestrians/cars the right of way at red lights. However, following the letter of the law, stopping for the full cycle ( and then getting caught at another red within a block or two ) drops average speeds well into the single digits, sometimes under 5 mph, depending upon how long the light is. You might as well walk instead of bike at that point. Studies have even been done showing unmarked, unsignaled streets are actually the safest. Maybe NYC should move in this direction once it succeeds in reducing auto traffic to much lower levels.

  • ChrisCo

    >>ChrisCo’s argument that people can’t walk one block to catch a bus symptomatic of the attitudes that are making America so obese. It also overstates the actual effect, as many people will not be originating and terminating their trip on both ends on the same avenue anyway.<<

    Nonsense son.

    Don't talk about my comments. You don't know me or anything about me. But my comments still hold true. It isn't just about being obese/lazy. It's about day-to-day commuting times. Now begone.

  • ChrisCo

    >>Worse is the concept of using inefficient streets as a sort of capacity constraint to discourage general purpose traffic. The very notion is a horrific assault on urban design! If the goal is to further constrain capacity for general purpose traffic, we can eliminate lanes (particularly at entrance points) and reduce lane width.<<

    Strawman. No one, including myself, is suggesting intentionally creating "inefficient streets". I am only suggesting that two-way street discourage high-speed traffic, which is good for everyone. Don't believe me? Go watch traffic on a two-way street and a one-way street, and get back to me.

    Measures such as road diets (reducing lanes) and narrowing lanes should be done IN ADDITION to making all streets two-way, not instead of. Even a street with only two lanes of moving traffic can be high-speed of both those lanes are in the same direction.

  • ChrisCo

    >>

    Dude! I just found another great streetfilm — this one on the junkiness of one-way streets and the awesomeness of two-way streets!

    StreetFilms is like a bottomless gold mine that keeps on giving!
    <<

    I don't believe those plans (in Park Slope to turn two-way streets to one-way) were ever implemented were they? I can't recall from my visits there.

  • Jay: the original citation for one-way being worse than two-way for buses is The Death and Life, which explains the drop in bus ridership as coming from requiring people to walk more to each bus.

    There are more modern citations, coming from BRT standards. The ITDP’s seminal guide takes it for granted that buses should run in medians, and only proposes one-way pairs as an extreme solution in constrained right-of-way, in chapter 5.3, and considers it inferior to a transit mall. Even the TRB’s standards, which claim that one-way operation can make buses faster (which is false in a system with robust signal preemption), say that two-way operation is better for reasons of route simplicity, and posit wide right-of-way requirements as the only drawback of two-way median operation. In Manhattan, there’s no reason to run buses one-way on the avenues in the main grid, which are 100′ wide.

    While the avenues in Manhattan are safe for pedestrians, the major east-west streets and Upper Broadway are safe as well. On Broadway, pedestrians have refuge in the median, and long, synchronized walk cycles allowing them to cross the entire street with little difficulty. On the major east-west streets, traffic speeds are low, and there are only about 4 traffic lanes in each direction, versus 5 on some avenues.

  • Jay

    You know, sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words… Since people here seem to be having difficulty dealing with coherent arguments, perhaps they can understand a couple simple photographs:

    For a view of Fifth Avenue at Madison Square with two-way avenues, refer here:
    http://www.geh.org/fm/feininger/m197806060006.jpg

    For views of Madison Square today, refer here:
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/madisonsq_gallery.pdf

    Now, can you still honestly tell me you believe those two-way avenues were really so magically better for pedestrians? The facts speak for themselves!

  • Jay

    ChisCo, do please try to get your story straight…

    First, you said, “Two-way streets also slow traffic simply because they are less efficient in moving traffic.” Then you say “No one, including myself, is suggesting intentionally creating ‘inefficient streets’.”

    Instead of denying your own statements, perhaps you could try thinking about any of the substantive points raised about bike lane configuration, dedicated lanes for transit, simplification in the number of conflicting movements and the basic facts of the incidence of left-turn pedestrian accidents, etc…

  • Jay, did you just post pictures of Madison Square before and after pedestrianization? Sigh. Sure, Madison Square is pedestrian-friendlier today than it was in the 1950s. It’s also pedestrian-friendlier than it was in the 1990s; do I get to post picture claim it shows one-way arterials are bad?

    If you want to stop making things up and start comparing apples to apples, compare First, Second, Columbus, and Amsterdam with 14th, 42nd, 86th, 125th, and Broadway; I assure you that you won’t find the two-way streets deficient.

  • Mike Epstein

    Let’s get real here. It’s all about the context. Some two-way streets are safer; some are not. Canal Street is not. Houston Street probably is not. It’s all a matter of how wide it is, how wide the lanes are, whether it appears forgiving or not, how many pedestrians there are, how the signals are engineered, etc, etc.

    One-way streets are easier to jaywalk across. There tend to be more gaps in traffic on one-way streets. They have fewer turning conflicts. But they are often engineered as through-traffic raceways, leading to fast-moving, aggressive traffic (see old PPW, many Manhattan avenues, etc). But some one-way streets are just fine: many one-lane residential streets. There are also a lot of “one-and-a-half-lane” one-way streets that lend themselves to easy addition of bike lanes (Grand St, Smith St, Bleecker St) and end up being reasonably calm.

    Let’s not overlook the many subtleties.

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Action Plan Ups NYC’s Commitment to Ped Safety, But Is NYPD on Board?

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Mayor Bloomberg discusses DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan at yesterday’s press conference with several elected officials, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and NYPD Chief of Transportation James Tuller. Photo: Noah Kazis "Safety isn’t just about statistics," NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said yesterday while announcing her agency’s new Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan. "It’s […]

269 People Killed in NYC Traffic Crashes Last Year

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According to DOT data, 269 people died in traffic crashes on the streets of New York City last year, 11 more than in 2009. While that total shows New York City’s streets to be the safest of any major American city and less deadly than a generation ago, as Mayor Bloomberg said when announcing the […]

City Announces Major Bike Safety Improvement Initiative

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Two Hundred Miles Of New Bike Facilities Will Built In The Next Three Years. Releases Detailed Report On Bicycle Injuries And Fatalities. Changes Are Result Of Unprecedented Inter-Agency Collaboration Between Departments Of Transportation, Health, Parks And Police. The press conference is underway right now in at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Here are […]

How London Is Saving Lives With 20 MPH Zones

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One of London’s 20 mph zones, with physical traffic calming measures and the speed limit prominently displayed. Image: ITDP-Europe via Flickr. When Mayor Bloomberg announced that the new pedestrian spaces in Midtown are here to stay, he made special note of the safety improvements on Broadway, which he called "reason enough to make this permanent." […]