NYC DOT Tests Out a New, Faster Way to Build Raised Crosswalks

This raised crosswalk at Tinton Avenue and East 150th Street in the Bronx is one of five the city plans to install as part of a federally-funded pilot.
This raised crosswalk at Tinton Avenue and East 150th Street in the Bronx is one of five the city plans to install as part of a federally-funded pilot. Photo: NYC DOT

NYC DOT has installed raised crosswalks — marked crossings that double as speed humps — at Tinton Avenue and East 150th Street in the Bronx and at Driggs Avenue and Newel Street in Brooklyn. While the city has built raised crosswalks elsewhere as part of large capital projects, this is the first time they’ve been installed as a standalone safety improvement.

The crosswalks serve not only to slow drivers at intersections, but also to improve accessibility for seniors and the disabled.

The city received a federal grant to install raised crosswalks at those two locations plus three more in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, according to a DOT spokesperson. DOT is currently identifying locations with high densities of seniors, low-income residents, and people with ambulatory disabilities who would especially benefit from easier curb access.

The grant also covers a post-installation study of the crosswalks’ impact on safety and access.

The treatment does not involve expanding concrete sidewalks across the street. Instead, DOT has raised the asphalt up to sidewalk grade, which is likely much less expensive and much easier to scale up, though the spokesperson did not specify the exact cost of this type of raised crosswalk.

Driggs Avenue and Newel Street in Brooklyn. Image: NYC DOT
Driggs Avenue and Newel Street in Brooklyn. Photo: NYC DOT
  • When I am riding in Newark, I notice that they have red brick crosswalks there.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7330314,-74.1736147,3a,75y,18.56h,86.3t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sCS7AsfpNiVwRQqGypHLN3w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

    While that might not be the nicest option for someone in a wheelchair, such as the person shown in one of the photos accompanying this post, this kind of crosswalk sure does tend to stand out. I think that the distinct differences in colour and texture from the rest of the street might have a psychological effect that discourages drivers from violating the crosswalk.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4795f773767a9124156bb112306e9ff02fc59ff76b5fa98689c63b30094d1379.png

  • Reader

    This is great. I’d suggest that DOT add some sort of visual marker – shark teeth or something like that – to the edge of the raised crosswalk so it looks different, like something to slow down for. It’s actually hard to tell from a distance that this is different from the rest of the street. (Grey doesn’t show up well on grey.)

    Drivers need a clue to slow down BEFORE they get to the crosswalk, which is the whole point of these things.

    But glad to see DOT doing this.

  • J

    This. If it looks exactly like a regular crosswalk, it will only change driver behavior after drivers have hit it a few times at speed and they learn to slow down at this location.

  • Jeff

    The one on Driggs actually does have a speed hump maybe 30 feet before the raised crosswalk that serves this purpose.

  • com63

    How does drainage work? Can they only put these at the crown of a street where they are not counting on the gutters to work? If they put these on most streets, it will just send a bunch of water onto the sidewalks when it rains.

  • Carl S

    This sounds intriguing to me. I think they could be a useful tool in getting traffic to stick to the speed limit if they were widespread.

  • localmile

    These can be especially beneficial during winter or rain. They shed rain and snow much better and avoid having the reverse slope in the gutter that collects slush and ice that prevents folks with disabilities from being able to cross.

  • Benjamin Davidson MacKrell
  • Bahij

    I’m so happy to see the DOT implementing these. They should be standard practice in residential areas, especially in slow zones.

  • kevin

    Maybe they can do that stamped asphalt thing you see sometimes.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed. This should be standard on minor streets.

  • AnoNYC

    It’s hard to tell in the photo but the edges near the sidewalk ramps look like they slope down. I don’t think the DOT raised the rampsnor the crosswalk adjacent.

  • AnoNYC

    You could leave a cut along the curb and cap it with a metal grate.

  • AnoNYC

    Are these speed humps aggressive enough to even be noticable to the standard crossover SUV driver? It looks compromised compared to the typical speed hump.

  • AnoNYC

    Well it’s not a national standard so you’ll still have drivers from out of town slamming into them. Might as well put the warnings down.

  • Joe R.

    Don’t like it. They should have pass-throughs for bikes. I understand the merit here but unfortunately this is yet another example of things to slow down motorists which adversely affect cyclists. Hopefully we’ll get autonomous vehicles soon so we can remove all these silly bandaids. It’s a shame we refuse to hold drivers to high enough licensing standards such that they might actually choose to drive at reasonable speeds without constant reminders to slow down.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Yes, it works better if it is marked. There’s an unmarked raised crosswalk just a few yards from my house (in the middle of the block) and people hit it pretty hard. I often hear them scratching against the street.

  • Bernard Finucane

    This is nice, but they should extend the curb as well to reduce crossing distance.

  • Bernard Finucane

    This is a solution for much wider streets with heavier traffic.

  • Bernard Finucane

    I thought that was a mud-free crosswalk.

  • Flip Solo

    I respectfully disagree with you on the first part. At least its progress and any attempt to slow down vehicles is very good for everyone. It would affect cyclists, I guess, but no so much. I do agree with that we should hold drivers more accountable in reducing speed.

  • Jeff

    If this slows you down too much while you’re cycling, then you’re cycling way too fast through an area that is evidently sensitive enough to pedestrians that the city has decided it warrants a raised crosswalk.

  • Well, here is the same strategy utilsed at a much smaller intersection, Post Avenue and Maple Avenue in Westbury.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b0cae0df9d64ef08132ddd9f924669a37f415ae1bedbe5a6adca1095c1ea81f7.png

    An aerial view shows that this method is used at every intersection for a half-mile stretch along Post Avenue.

    To me it’s striking. I’d love to see something like this become the norm in New York City.

  • Ah. I had to look that up.

    So maybe that’s what we see there, stamped asphalt. Maybe it’s not actually bricks.

  • This is great but sidewalk does not look restored to normal height and there are no markings to notify cars… I wonder what is the height of the raise?
    good first step toward a solution that should be standard at all narrow streets crossings.

  • Check here the raised pedestrian crossings CHEKPEDSasked for in 2015
    http://chekpeds.com/you-won-the-city-will-build-raised-pedestrian-crossings

  • Joe R.

    Speed has nothing to do with it. What will happen here is exactly what happens with speed bumps. NYC doesn’t maintain them, the slopes wear off, and eventually the bump presents a sudden jump in pavement height of a few inches which is dangerous at any speed. I have no objection to speed bumps or raised crosswalks if the city puts pass-throughs for bikes like they do in civilized cycling countries. At least when the speed bump falls apart the pass-throughs will still be safe.

    Also, these are in 20 or 25 mph zones, no? Unless you’re biking over the speed limit you’re not riding too fast. There isn’t a second, lower speed limit which applies to bikes.

  • Joe R.

    Better solution than raised crosswalks, IMO. If the visually contrasting crosswalk isn’t sufficient. it can be preceded by a rumble strip to reinforce the message to slow down.

  • Bernard Finucane

    I’m not criticizing it. I think it is nice, actually. The real problem with this area is the vast sea of empty parking lots. At this particular intersection they should remove the left turn lanes and use the space for curb bump outs, shortening the crossing distance. But it won’t generate much traffic anyway, because there is so little to get to within walking distance — it’s all parking lots. The city needs to scrap it parking minimums and start building multistory buildings with retail on the ground floor if the want to revitalize the area.

  • Michel S

    And shit. Don’t forget the shit.

  • Wilfried84

    I think this is making a mountain out of a molehill, as it were. My neighborhood is full of slow zones with speed bumps which I go over all the time, and if this anything like those, I can’t see a problem. They’re wide and the slopes are shallow, so they don’t really get in my way. I don’t see how the slopes can wear off, and I haven’t seen it happen yet. I’ll agree that I wish we could count on better driver behavior, and there was better enforcement, so these wouldn’t be necessary, but absent any realistic prospects of that changing, this is a reasonable attempt to tame the streets. This is also meant to help people in wheelchairs, and I imagine it’s harder for them to manage a dip for a passthrough than it is for a bicycle to navigate a hump, so I could live with this.

    I also agree that the hump needs to be marked, for the sake of bicycles as well as cars.

  • chandru

    My god, are you seriously suggesting that the average biker go 20-25MPH?!! That’s insane. And unsafe. If there isn’t a lower speed limit for cyclists, there should be one. And this is spoken as a regular cyclist, who rarely exceeds 12-15mph in the street.

  • Joe R.

    If that speed is unsafe for bikes then why is it considered a safe speed (or at least a safer speed) for motor vehicles which are much heavier, have less visibility, and have less ability to stop. If anything, given the fact bikes are lighter (hence less kinetic energy), and better able top see and maneuver, they should have a higher legal speed limit than motor vehicles. But I’ll settle for the same legal speed limit as motor vehicles.

    My god, are you seriously suggesting that the average biker go 20-25MPH?!! That’s insane. And unsafe.

    I’m not suggesting any particular speed for cycling. I’m just saying so long as a cyclist isn’t breaking the speed limit, they’re legally not considered to be going “too fast” as much as some people here might wish otherwise.

    And where do you get that 20 or 25 mph on a bike is unsafe? Point of fact the Dutch design for at least 30 kph (18.6 mph) speeds in cities and 40 kph (24.9 mph) outside of cities. Their cycleways typically exceed those standards.

  • Joe R.

    I have seen these wear down, I’ve seen chunks of asphalt fall out inside the hump itself. At night especially a defective speed hump isn’t apparent until you’re actually on top of it. It doesn’t matter what speed you’re going, either. Point of fact some types of holes or gaps are worse at slow speeds because your wheel has a chance to fall further into the hole. Defective leading edges are bad at any speed (almost the same as running into a curb).

    I’ll agree that I wish we could count on better driver behavior, and there was better enforcement, so these wouldn’t be necessary, but absent any realistic prospects of that changing, this is a reasonable attempt to tame the streets.

    The problem here that this isn’t the first attempt to tame drivers via infrastructure which at best is annoying to cyclists, at worst dangerous to them. Rather, it’s yet another thing added to a long list of such attempts like regular speed bumps, stop signs, traffic signals, and so forth. All those things negatively affect cycling. Some of those things, particularly traffic signals, are a major annoyance for pedestrians as well. At some point if drivers can’t learn to behave on urban streets maybe we should just ban them, rather than repeatedly trying to change their behavior with things which don’t work. My experience here is speed humps, stop signs, traffic signals at best slow drivers down in their immediate vicinity. Drivers will then try to make up the time they lost by speeding in between these devices (making things more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians crossing midblock). Or put in layman’s terms, what they do is similar to kicking a noisy person off your block just so they can make noise elsewhere, as opposed to stopping them from making noise altogether.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed.

  • AnoNYC

    I just stand a bit. Doesn’t really impact my speed personally.

    What kind of bike do you ride? Tire width? Average speed?

  • AnoNYC

    It looks good but I don’t see the benefit versus high visibility white on black crosswalks. Especially considering the costs.

  • Joe R.

    If they’re maintained. I’ve safely gone over good speed humps at up to 25 mph by standing on the pedals to let the bike pivot on that axis. The bad ones give you a nasty jolt at any speed. I haven’t fallen on account of a bad speed hump yet, but I’m sure others have. If NYC could be counted on to maintain things my objections would be a lot less vocal but they can’t be.

    Have we considered speed humps made of some sort of industrial plastic? Those would be very quick to install, probably cheaper. I tend to think freezing/thawing wouldn’t affect them. If/when they degrade to the point of becoming dangerous to cyclists, you can replace them with a brand new speed hump in a matter of minutes.

  • Joe R.

    If done in a different paving material which is colored throughout, it remains visible. Zebra stripes on crosswalks eventually wear off. NYC can’t be counted on to maintain them.

  • Joe R.

    What kind of bike do you ride? Tire width? Average speed?

    I ride this:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/608758329cf56213b81744b368ad6e23f14e2e2002fc5ef3c47693e2741f6282.jpg

    Airless 700cx20 tires (i.e. 20mm wide), 11-25 10-speed cluster in back, 42-53 chainring. Typical cruising speeds for me fall into the 17 to 23 mph band. I obviously go slower on upgrades, faster on downgrades. The bike feels fine on smooth or mostly smooth pavement at those speeds, even at twice those speeds. Bad pavement feels, well, bad but that’s been true of every type of bike I’ve ridden. Note that I have the high rebound elastomer airless tires ( http://www.marvelcompoundtires.com/700-x-20C-Daytona-HR-Race-622_p_24.html ). Those eliminate any ride quality or speed loss issues associated with regular airless tires. To me they’re just about comparable to pneumatic tires but with the benefit of being flat-proof.

  • AnoNYC

    Nice bike. I see why you get jolted so much considering the tire width. That may have the biggest impact when it comes to shock. I run 700x30mm on a gravel grinder style road bike and it’s pretty smooth. High quality alum frame and carbon fork. A recent upgrade from a entry level alum hybrid, and a huge difference.

  • Joe R.

    I could always upgrade to wider rims and tires. It looks like the frame could accommodate 30mm tires without too much trouble. My only issue here would be the availability of airless tires in the wider size. They do exist ( http://www.marvelcompoundtires.com/700-x-28C-Monaco-622_p_26.html and http://www.marvelcompoundtires.com/700-x-35C-Laguna-622_p_27.html ). Unfortunately, neither is the HR elastomer. The ride might actually be worse on those tires than on what I’m using. There’s no way I’d ever go back to air tires after using airless for the last 8 years. After having issues with flats for decades I finally found something that works great for me. Anyway, by the time my rims and tires wear out they might have good, wider, airless tires.

    Note I’m particularly sensitive to poor pavement conditions due to advanced carpal tunnel syndrome. My hands get numb to start with about 30 minutes into a ride. A few good jolts sends what feels like electric shock right up my arms.

  • Rex Rocket

    Why the disc wheel?

  • I think one benefit is that it doesn’t fade, so the maintenance costs presumably decrease over time.

    Also, I would consider this to be more noticeable and more visible than the standard white-on-black treatment.

  • Joe R.

    I’m glad you asked. It serves two purposes. One, it gives a slight aerodynamic advantage, perhaps allowing me to go ~1 mph faster for any given effort. Two, it keeps junk like twigs or small branches from getting caught in the wheel, possible breaking the spokes. The second reason is more important than the first for me. I tried a disk wheel in front many years ago for the same purposes. In front a disk actually gives much more aerodynamic advantage than in back. I recall hitting 25+ mph pretty easily. Unfortunately, it made the bike dangerously unstable in cross winds. Sometimes the handlebar was literally yanked from my hands. Needless to say, I took it off the same day.

    I made the disk myself from sheets of black ABS. Someone wrote a set of DIY instructions for anyone interested ( http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/The_ultimate_DIY_disc_wheel_cover_how-to_thread._P3552095/ ). Even if you have no interest in going faster, the wheel cover is useful to keep your wheel free of debris and dirt.

  • Ari_F_S

    I understand prioritizing areas with more seniors and people with disabilities, but why low-income folks?

  • Joe R.

    Low income people walk more out of necessity. I can relate to this personally. For much of my adult life taking public transit wasn’t always an option, even for trips of a few miles. It was either walk, or don’t make the trip.

  • AnoNYC

    Might want to try the Continental 4 Seasons tires. Really good flat protection and would provide a softer ride at 28 or 30 mm. Also, a elastomer seatpost from Specialized if you want to spend some cash. Makes a difference.

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