Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Monday: Support Safer Chinatown Streets

6:05 PM EST on February 20, 2009

chatham_square_crash_stat.jpgSince 1997, three pedestrians have been killed and dozens injured in collisions near Chatham Square, according to CrashStat.

In November 2006, Manhattan Community Board 3 voiced support for "a comprehensive, community-inclusive initiative to study, identify and build consensus around strategies to improve the safety and connectivity of walking, bicycling and public transportation."

Now there's a plan on the table that would put safety strategies into practice at Chatham Square, where the convergence of several streets forces pedestrians to contend with dangerous and chaotic traffic patterns. The re-design would double the amount of pedestrian space and significantly reduce crossing distances, exactly the type of project that Chinatown's hazardous streets are begging for. Despite these safety benefits, consensus has been hard to come by.

Monday night, CB3's Chatham Square Task Force will hold its final
meeting to present comments to DOT about the proposal, and opposition is expected to be intense. (If you can't make the meeting -- 6:30 p.m. at PS
124, 40 Division Street --
Transportation Alternatives has an e-petition to show your support.)

Since the last major public meeting about the project, City Council members Alan Gerson and John Liu have condemned the re-design and accused DOT of pushing a plan that does not enjoy public support. Because the Chatham Square project is closely associated with the closing of Park Row
to private cars -- a policy adopted by NYPD post-9/11 -- businesses convinced that their livelihood depends on auto traffic are up in arms about the proposal.

The loud opposition may be drowning out other voices, but the need for safer streets hasn't diminished. "The paramount importance is making it safe for people to walk, especially for the kids who are walking from schools and libraries," said Jane Ryan Beck, a long-time Chinatown resident who takes her four-year-old son through Chatham Square on the way to school. "I think the plan goes a long way toward addressing those issues."

After her son witnessed the horrific collision on East Broadway that claimed the lives of two classmates, Beck and her husband started a website,, to raise awareness about child pedestrian safety in Lower Manhattan. "We're hoping to give a voice to a whole group of people who are shocked and
horrified, but not taking any action, because they don't even know
these projects are on the board," she said, noting that it can be tough for parents to participate in public workshops. "There are lots of obstacles to even just getting there, like getting
someone to watch your kid while you go to a Community Board meeting."

Check after the jump for plans depicting the Chatham Square proposal and the current condition.


Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Tuesday’s Headlines: Gridlock Alert — And Gridlock Abort — Day Edition

A "Gridlock Alert" day is a perfect day for supporters of congestion pricing to rally in Union Square! Plus other news.

December 5, 2023

‘Crazy Nonsense’: City Now Allows (Cough) Plateless Vehicles to (Cough) Break Idling Law

City environmental protection officials are now refusing to punish owners of commercial vehicles for idling if the trucks don't have license plates — a move that has enraged citizen enforcers.

December 5, 2023

The Explainer: What’s Next for Congestion Pricing?

Let's run through the major issues still looming over New York City's first-in-the-nation congestion toll.

December 4, 2023

Monday’s Headlines: Congestion Ahead Edition

Good news: We're not going to start our week with our typical ascent on our long-legged steed to criticize the Times for its flawed, car-centric coverage. Plus other news.

December 4, 2023
See all posts