Eyes on the Street: “Bowtie of Death” Needs a New Nickname

Pedestrians at the complex intersection of 71st, Broadway and Amsterdam enjoy shorter crossing distances and more space at the northern end of the intersection, next to a subway entrance. Photos: Noah Kazis

DOT has largely completed an overhaul of the complicated intersection of Broadway, Amsterdam and 71st Street, a year after presenting the plan to Community Board 7 (hat tip to the West Side Rag, which noted the new infrastructure last Thursday).

Dubbed the “bowtie of death” by Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who pressed DOT to take action last August and again this July, the intersection has long been one of the most dangerous places in Manhattan for pedestrians. According to Stringer’s office, there have been 34 traffic crashes here in the last two years.

Installation of the safety improvements began this August. Now pedestrians should have a far easier time making it across the tangle of streets. Using planters, granite blocks, and new surfacing flush with the roadbed, DOT has expanded sidewalks and medians, cutting crossing distances significantly. Abundant new crosswalks allow people to walk safely and legally where they’d previously been taking shortcuts without walk signals or a designated right-of-way. Along two blocks of Broadway, one southbound travel lane was removed to help calm traffic.

More pictures of the new safety features below the fold:

A number of new crosswalks make it easy, safe, and legal to cross the complex intersection in any direction. Before, pedestrians frequently cut from island to island without any official routes or signals for walking.
Looking south from the former "bowtie of death," new pedestrian space juts into Broadway on both sides of the intersection. On the left side of Broadway, the traffic lane was removed along this block.
  • Mark

    This is a great start.   Thanks DOT and everyone who made this happen.   However, when you look at the intersection, it is easy to see how complicated and screwed up it is because Broadway intersects the grid here.   I think the ultimate best solution would involve closing Broadway like at Times Square.   Pedestrians and auto traffic would both benefit from Broadway being closed.

  • J

    @8f996ad67f04aec5edcfbc5070d76441:disqus It’s interesting that you mention that, since northbound Broadway has been closed between 71st & 73rd for years. Granted, northbound vehicles are only mildly inconvenienced since they can still take Amsterdam for those blocks. However, traffic on Broadway heading north is way lower after the detour. I imagine that a southbound closure would make Broadway south of the bowtie way calmer as well.

    Also, now that the road is down to two southbound lanes in that section, it makes sense to reduce the southbound road to two lane lanes elsewhere as well, since cars will simply speed where there is excess capacity. We could expand the center medians, or add bike lanes, or widen the sidewalks. Sky’s the limit. This could easily be done on northbound Broadway, north of 73rd Street as well, since the road there seems to have a lot of excess capacity as well, since most northbound vehicles simply opt to stay on Amsterdam.

  • Hillary

    Great job DOT! What a wonderful new design for such a complicated intersection. This one couldn’t have been easy. Congrats on another successful project and making the city safer for pedestrians – one intersection at a time. Love those granite blocks. Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    They need to make these pedestrian plaza improvements less ugly.  Overall, I support them, though.

  • Andrew

    @8f996ad67f04aec5edcfbc5070d76441:disqus The west sidewalk between 74th and 75th (by Fairway) is perpetually jammed.  At the very least a wider sidewalk is sorely needed there.

  • Eric McClure

    “The Farfalle of (Pedestrian) Friendliness?”

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