Does the Box Blocking Crackdown Ignore Crosswalk Violations?

boxblock.jpg

Manhattan Community Board 2’s Ian Dutton sends along this shot of a motorist about to be ticketed for blocking the box on Broome Street at W. Broadway in SoHo. Yesterday, police and traffic agents stepped up enforcement of what is a normally ignored traffic regulation. However, writes Ian:

Note that blocking the box only applies to getting in the way of other cars, not blocking the crosswalk making it dangerous for pedestrians.

Commenter ddartley elaborates:

The bigger problem is blocking pedestrian crosswalks. It’s a bigger
problem because it happens more often, it affects more people
(pedestrians outnumber motorists), and the risks of harm are far
greater than mere car-obstructing (peds are forced to walk out into
moving traffic every minute of ever day all around town). Nevertheless, the new law, while great, only deals specifically with
cars in the middle of the intersection. It does not define ped
crosswalks as part of "the box," so I wonder if TEAs are now ticketing
cars blocking crosswalks.

Anyone else who witnessed yesterday’s action notice whether agents were also ticketing for crosswalk violations?

  • If the crosswalk isn’t being protected by law, we’re going to see aggressive motorists pushing into the crosswalk to be clear of the “box”. Which is when I’m going to start walking over hoods.

  • dchadwick, motorists already do that all the time! Seriously, I hope you have good no-slip soles. Or golf shoes. I’d get your back.

    Sblog, thanks for posting this.
    I was about to make the rather severe suggestion to my reps that they draft a whole new bill to be introduced to specifically deal with crosswalks.

    But of course that might not be necessary, if TEAs actually are ticketing cars sitting in crosswalks.

    If there IS enough material out there for a “mycrosswalk.com,” THEN I will start bugging Assembly and Senate to fix the law so it covers crosswalks too.

    And of course there might even be more efficient ways, rather than whole new legislation–maybe we could bug the TEAs bosses, rather than the Assembly and Senate… rambling today…

  • This morning I saw a school crossing guard near Marcy Avenue barking out commands at kids crossing the street. The kids were IN the crosswalk WITH the light. Here is what she yelled as she held her hand out to hold back cars, “Hurry up kids, I am holding up traffic for you. Hasten your pace or you might get run over next time.”

    Think about if you hear that over and over as a kid, of course you will probably grow up not knowing you have the right to cross safely with your light. Even crossing guards I guess don’t universally recognize a pedestrian’s right to cross with the crosswalk signal. Ridiculous. So how do we expect traffic agents to recognize it?

  • Dave

    How many people realize that the pedestrian has the right-of-way while the walk signal is green (or the white man) and that cars have the right-of-way when the light is flashing. This means pedestrians should let the cars through and let the cars make their turns. How often does that happen?

    So before you start ticketing cars for blocking the box, make sure you ticket pedestrians for running in front of cars, jaywalking and such.

    Sure the city should be pedestrian-friendly, but a car stuck in an intersection because of pedestrians crossing against the light should not be ticketed.

  • Rob

    Dave do you have a cite to back you up on that statement? The closest thing I could find in the NYS code was

    § 1112. Pedestrian-control signal indications. Whenever pedestrians
    are controlled by pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words “WALK”
    or “DON’T WALK”, or exhibiting symbols of a walking person or upraised
    hand, such signals shall indicate and apply to pedestrians as follows:
    (a) Steady WALK or walking person. Pedestrians facing such signal may
    proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be
    given the right of way by other traffic.
    (b) Flashing DON’T WALK or upraised hand. No pedestrian shall start to
    cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrians
    who have partially completed their crossing on the WALK or walking
    person signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the
    flashing DON’T WALK or upraised hand signal is showing.
    (c) Steady DON’T WALK or upraised hand. No pedestrians shall start to
    cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrians
    who have partially completed their crossing on the WALK or flashing
    DON’T WALK signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the
    steady DON’T WALK signal is showing.

  • Rob

    The law says nothing about pedestrians ‘letting cars through’ when the signal is flashing. Just that they have the right to continue crossing.

  • Dave

    So we agree that that pedestrians are in violation of the law when they start to cross the street when the walk signal is flashing. But pedestrians routinely cross when it is flashing (and when it is a solid DON’T WALK) so does it make sense for the city to ticket the motorist who doesn’t run them over but is forced into the “box” by the illegal action of the pedestrian?

    The city NEVER tickets pedestrian for jay-walking or crossing against the light so I would love to see these tickets challenged on the basis that the illegal behavior of the pedestrian is overlooked while the accident-avoiding behavior of the driver is fined.

    Of course the situation changes when drivers pull into an intersection when the street space on the other side of the crosswalk is saturated (like at the entrance to the tunnels and such)

    Until the city tickets jay-walkers (and bikers who refuse to use bikelanes when present) I think anyone ticketed for blocking the box based on the illegal crossings of pedestrians should challenge the ticket. Because of course we can’t rely on the cops to ticket appropriately.

  • But pedestrians routinely cross when it is flashing (and when it is a solid DON’T WALK) so does it make sense for the city to ticket the motorist who doesn’t run them over but is forced into the “box” by the illegal action of the pedestrian?

    I’ve never seen a motorist who is stuck in the box by the actions of jaywalking pedestrians. I have, in fact, seen motorists whose plan to exit the box is predicated on blocking the crosswalk, and I’ve sometimes succeeded in forcing them to stay in the box rather than the crosswalk – by crossing with the light. If you think about it, Dave, under most circumstances if a car is in the box when the light changes, the pedestrians crossing the car’s path will have the light.

    The only way I can think of for a car to be stuck in the box by pedestrians crossing against the flashing hand is if they’re turning – and I find it hard to imagine a TEA ticketing a motorist who’s stuck that way.

    I don’t know why you’re constructing this elaborate scenario, Dave, but it seems pretty unlikely to me.

  • Dave

    I don’t think you drive in Manhattan much, Cap’n or you’d know better. If there’s a gap in traffic going straight through an intersection the pedestrians cross against the light and block traffic going with the light. Happens all the time in my neighborhood.

    For turning traffic it is as you note much worse. And you find it hard to imagine a TEA agent ticketing someone like that? I don’t. These agents will be there not to stop pedestrians and let traffic turn but to wait to ticket those who couldn’t turn because of pedestrians. Trust me.

  • I don’t think you drive in Manhattan much, Cap’n

    Uh, no, I don’t. I’m no fool.

    I’ve seen pedestrians going against the light block a car for a few seconds at most. I’ve never seen pedestrians keep a car in the box through a signal change, except when traffic on the other side of the crosswalk was so backed up the car would wind up blocking the crosswalk.

    These agents will be there not to stop pedestrians and let traffic turn but to wait to ticket those who couldn’t turn because of pedestrians.

    Many commenters on this blog have observed that traffic cops routinely overrule leading pedestrian intervals, stop pedestrians and wave cars through. I seriously doubt that the possibility of a few tickets is going to suddenly overturn this pro-driver, anti-pedestrian bias.

  • christine

    today I encountered two traffic agents:
    One at 42nd and 9th who was urging cars across the intersection while the pedestrians had the walk sign on. She said the highway was backed up in New Jersey. I had to remind her that New Jersey highway back up was not taking precedence over pedestrian safety. ..

    The second one was hiding at an intersection to give tickets . He was smiling and siad “I have three pens on me and not enough time to give all the tickets I could give ” THAT was good…
    He then continued saying that there were not enough cops to do that ?? Is the NYPD really asking all the traffic agents to give tickets as the law envisions? or are they going to continue to use these poor people as live traffic lights?

    Including the ped crossing in the box is an obvious amendment we need to ask for .. but first let us make sure the NYPD is enforcing this law.. we need statistics published ..

  • christine

    Rob
    Here is the answer to your question
    NYS 1111

    1. Traffic, except pedestrians, facing a steady circular green signal
    may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such
    place prohibits either such turn. Such traffic, including when turning
    right or left, shall yield the right of way to other traffic lawfully
    within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal
    is exhibited.

    Since the pedestrians have the right to complete the crossing even after the do not walk signal has truned steady, there are lawfully in the intersection …

  • “One at 42nd and 9th who was urging cars across the intersection while the pedestrians had the walk sign on. She said the highway was backed up in New Jersey.”

    I have no problem with that as long as cars are forbidden from entering the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel when pedestrian traffic is thick in west midtown.

  • Something interesting about Agents waving cars through peds who have the walk sign:

    The law is that traffic agents’ instructions supercede traffic signals and lights.

    But agents only instruct cars. They generally don’t signal anything at all to pedestrians.

    Pretty stupid for them to only deal with cars and not peds in a city where peds outnumber cars–vastly, at some intersections, since their instructions to cars will often necessarily create conflict with pedestrians. If they’re going to do that, they should also be in charge of directing peds.

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