The transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 2 this week unanimously recommended that DOT implement two projects that would bring a menu of pedestrian safety improvements to SoHo, including a number of intersections near the Holland Tunnel.
At the intersection of Canal Street and Hudson Street, DOT plans to add median islands and bump-outs to reduce driver-pedestrian conflicts and shorten crossing distances. An unused triangle of asphalt on the north side of the intersection would be converted into a new pedestrian space, demarcated by a gravel surface and planters, for safer passage. A new crosswalk would be added across the eastbound tunnel entrance, reflecting a current pedestrian desire line.
One block east, under-used roadway on Varick Street between Broome and Watts Streets would be repurposed for pedestrians. The new space would be accompanied by a new crosswalk across the south side of Varick and Broome, offering an alternative to crossing at the tunnel entrance. A crossing on the west side of Varick and Broome would be divided into two shorter crosswalk spans, separated by a new neckdown, to decrease the amount of time pedestrians are in the path of tunnel-bound drivers. To the south, crossing distances would also be shortened at Varick and Watts.
A new pedestrian island on Canal would slow drivers turning left from Sixth Avenue. Along with new traffic lane markings, a new crosswalk would be added on the west side of the intersection of Canal and Greenwich Streets. Check out complete plans in this PDF.
With proximity to subways and a variety of restaurants and retail, the intersection of Seventh Avenue, Bleecker Street and Barrow Street sees heavy volumes of pedestrian traffic. Long crosswalks and drivers impatient to turn contributed to 48 injuries between 2006 and 2010, with 21 pedestrians hurt, according to DOT. Of the pedestrian-involved collisions, 53 percent — twice the borough-wide average — occurred when the pedestrian had the walk signal.
To make conditions more hospitable [PDF], epoxy-and-gravel neckdowns on Seventh would shorten the crossing distance by 27 feet at the intersection’s south side. New markings and delineators would reduce turning speeds and make it more difficult for drivers to double up on turns from Seventh to Bleecker and Barrow.
“Both [projects] were passed unanimously and the committee was very receptive to DOT’s plans,” says former CB 2 member Ian Dutton. “If anything, the committee was interested if more could be done to make pedestrians even safer and more comfortable, particularly in the Bleecker-7th Avenue plan, but there really weren’t too many specific suggestions that we could come up with to make the plans more ped-friendly.”
The projects now go to the full board, which will meet next Thursday, June 21.