Film Maker Captures Everyday Motorist Law-Breaking at Deadly Crossings

Here are two excellent shorts from film maker Anna Zivarts that document conditions at intersections where pedestrians lost their lives.

On the morning of January 2, 75-year-old Xiaoci Hu was struck by two motorists at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street in Sunset Park. Zivarts took a camera there and filmed several drivers, including one in a semi truck, blowing through a crosswalk heedless of a group of pedestrians who have the right of way. People in the group yell at drivers to stop as they continue to pass, inches from a man with a small child on his shoulders. The film shows motorists honking at pedestrians who have the walk signal.

At East Fordham Road and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, where an unidentified man was hit by a driver less than 12 hours after Hu was killed, Zivarts filmed motorists en route to Pelham Parkway failing to yield. At one point, a man on foot waits through an entire light cycle as driver after driver refuses to concede the right of way, forcing him to wait for the next light.

This is a genius idea that, unfortunately, could be replicated at most any intersection in NYC. Motorists are constantly making the case that improved enforcement and engineering are needed to make streets safer, and anyone with a video camera or a smartphone and some editing software can give them an audience.

“This won’t get us to Vision Zero,” reads Zivarts’s caption at the end of each video. But this is the kind of grassroots activism that will.

  • JamesR

    It’s always tricky to discuss this, but there is a cultural component to this as well. Boston is a lot less diverse than New York and has a lot fewer folks who are recent immigrants from the developing world – which tends to have a notoriously aggressive driving culture(s) and are absolutely not places where you want to be a pedestrian.

    I’d contend that places like NYC, where there is such a polyglot mashup of people, lots of transients, and unclear expectations for behavior on crowded roads, you’re going to get this kind of hyperaggression as a result. I’m not even factoring the often appalling behavior of all the entitled rich folks in expensive cars into the equation here.

  • Joshua Putnam

    Seems like enforcement is the most obvious solution. There’s no question from the honking that motorists were aware of the pedestrians, they just chose to flout the law. Red light cameras work where they’ve been used. Assuming adequate yellow phase timing, it’s easy to avoid getting a ticket, just stop on red.

  • Considering most streets are one way, you simply remove the against the flow bike path and set up a stop in place of the right only lane on alternating streets.

  • Aron

    At the bus stop.

  • HamTech87

    Under/overpasses are very expensive, and since drivers are taxpayers, they react badly to the cost. They’re also not well-used in my experience, with long zigzag ramps that take far longer than crossing a street. I personally don’t like them. The overpasses with their fences that cover them or the tunnels with their pools of dank water and odors. And unlike a NYC subway station, you’re often alone on these.

    My town uses a Barnes stop after the ped button is pushed. Sure, many peds go with the light, but at least the elderly and children have a path clear from cars. And people also walk diagonally to save time.

    At the Barnes crossing and non-signalized crosswalks, we have lots of school crossing guards during school open and closings. This creates a lot of awareness, and the traffic jams are during this time. But nobody argues b/c some of the guards are real cops or supplemented by flashing police car lights. And all the crossing guards are well-known locals who garner some respect.

  • HamTech87

    In Yonkers, the overpasses are barely used. Nobody wants to take the long zigzag up and down.

  • Jason

    They’re making a left turn and honking. It seems to me that they aren’t flouting the law, but rather that they believe they are in the right. They think “I have a green light, I am yielding to oncoming traffic, and it is safe for me to turn left. I am good to go.” while being unaware that pedestrians have the walk sign. It seems like better signage might help, or a red arrow along with the green light to indicate that turning is not allowed at all.

  • Jason

    I think the mistake is that the green arrow should turn to a red arrow before the walk sign comes on. So, the green light indicates forward moving traffic can proceed while stopping left turns and keeping the pedestrians safe.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Great link. Thanks so much for the help.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Yes, windows.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Thanks, appreciate it. Yeah, mac’s are way too expensive for what I’m looking for.

  • Andrew

    Perhaps. Or, alternatively, perhaps they are simply threatening to kill any pedestrian who doesn’t let them go first. (Kind of like threatening the person ahead of you in line at the supermarket with a gun because you don’t want to wait in line, except that the police don’t care in the slightest.)
    Do we want this behavior to stop? Then we should start arresting drivers who threaten pedestrians’ lives. Treat this as the serious crime it is.
    Until then, it will continue, since everybody knows there are no consequences.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    Or simply putting in a traffic enforcement camera that detects cars who don’t yield. I don’t believe many drivers will need another reminder after the first fine.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    My response would be to have the cars go under/over the crosswalk. Why should any pedestrian (let alone an elderly one) have to climb a flight of stairs to avoid cars? Do drivers make those kind of physical efforts in order not to inconvenience others?

  • infinitebuffalo

    There are rechargeable versions that you can refill with a bicycle pump, which are highly tempting to this cyclist…

  • infinitebuffalo

    The university where I work added a couple sets of retractable bollards (not this particular brand, I don’t think) around a landmark building a year or two ago. There seem to be repair folks working on them about every other week…

  • Kevin Love

    I suspect this was due to poor design or manufacturing. I have never seen a Dutch retractable bollard with a reliability issue. For example, the retractable bollard shown at 2:30 in Clarence’s excellent Streetsfilm about Groningen.

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