Two 125th Street Intersections Slated for Ped Safety Fixes

Picture_3.pngThe proposed redesign for the intersection of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. The project would convert left-turn bays on Lenox into wider pedestrian refuges. Image: NYCDOT

Harlem’s Main Street is slated to receive some pedestrian safety improvements at two dangerous intersections. Where 125th Street meets Lenox and St. Nicholas Avenues, NYCDOT safety plans call for a package of enhancements to make walking less harrowing.

The high volume of traffic on 125th, which feeds into the Triborough Bridge, present dangers for pedestrians on the busy retail and transit corridor. The subway station at 125th and Lenox makes it a particularly busy intersection. From 2004 to 2009, 21 pedestrians were injured there.

In response, DOT plans to widen the pedestrian refuges in the middle of Lenox Avenue, reclaiming space by eliminating left-turn bays. Left turns from Lenox are already illegal from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the plan would extend that restriction to the rest of the day. DOT also plans to introduce leading pedestrian intervals, giving walkers a head start over turning cars.

At 125th and St. Nicholas, 12 pedestrians were injured from 2004 to 2008. There, DOT is proposing neckdowns on three corners of the intersection, giving people shorter distances to cross.

DOT presented the proposal to Manhattan Community Board 10 last night. An agency spokesperson says DOT will be returning to the board at a later date in response to requests for more information on the project. 

Picture_2.pngA photo of 125th and Lenox and a rendering of the intersection with pedestrian safety improvements. Images: NYCDOT.
  • Good idea. Because turns are already restricted from 8am to 8pm, it appears to be a massive waste of space.

  • vnm


  • Not sure what to think of this… on the one hand, ped safety improvements are always good, and I want to support DOT’s Harlem improvements. On the other hand, left turn elimination brings back memories of getting lost on Route 10 in Jersey, where we’d waste 10 minutes backtracking every time we missed our turn. It’s somewhat irrational, but I can’t help it.

  • tacony palmyra

    A lot of the crosswalks at minor streets (126th, 127th, etc) for crossing the medians on Lenox are poorly designed in my opinion because they have these little pedestrian refuge cut-outs that are too narrow (narrower than the crosswalk width) and become bottlenecks. I end up walking on the raised median half the time ’cause an elderly woman or somebody with a stroller is occupying the entire refuge island cut-out space or going very slowly.

    The width of the space for crossing in that rendering looks to use this design on 125th. You go from a wide crosswalk to a narrow little cut-out in the median, back to the wide crosswalk? If minor streets like 127th have this problem, that will become a bottleneck for sure, with all the pedestrian traffic on 125th.

    I much prefer the design that’s more common on 7th Ave/ACP, where the median stops just short of the crosswalk, allowing the full width of the crosswalk across the street, while allowing protection for people who don’t cross in one light cycle.

    Also a shame we couldn’t get more substantial greenery in the median than those 2 trees. There are some “Green Streets” parks and a bench in the medians below 125th but above 125 it’s just a lot of ugly concrete. If we’re widening the median why not green it while we’re at it?

    Alon, the left turns aren’t allowed for 12 hours a day anyway so this isn’t a big change as far as that goes. People already avoid turning onto 125th in this area because of traffic, and no buses make that turn.

  • That’s got to be the saddest looking rendering ever. Is there a rule that streets with trains running underneath have to be horrible? Park avenue is nice. Broadway has greenery in places.

    I’m sure it saves lives, but the anemic looking little trees that dot the median above 125th street just look terrible and the concrete has some kind of tint/agregate that makes it look dirty all the time. Making neighborhoods better isn’t all about left turn bays and leading pedestrian intervals, sometimes you need to change the way a place feels to change the way people behave.

  • I ride the uptown bicycle lane on St. Nicholas all the time. Any traffic-calming improvement at the intersection with 125th St. is welcome!

    I second Dan Berkman–the art of planning beautiful urban neighborhoods (streetscapes) that are a delight to inhabit and pass through appears to have been lost, much to everyone’s detriment.

  • J

    I think the rendering doesn’t do the plan justice. The drawing at the top shows much larger planting areas than in the rendering. Given other projects, I’m sure this will look quite nice, like the rest of the avenue.

    Lenox Ave is pretty interesting on the whole, due to it extremely wide sidewalks and relatively narrow travel lanes. A quick measure on bing shows 30′ of car space in each direction (10′ parking & two 10′ travel lanes), while pedestrians get up to 34′ of sidewalk on each side. Everyone benefits from the 18′ planted median, much of which has benches and plantings. While the narrow lanes may make it tough to bike on, this street is truly a pedestrian paradise, made even better by this project. Well done DOT.

  • You can view the DOT presentation yourself (8-page PDF file).

  • JamesR

    Guys, try not to get caught up on the appearance of the streets in the rendering. They’re just CG trees most likely lifted out of the stock database of whatever rendering program DOT used. I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s frustrating and annoying to present a vision to the public and get nitpicked over minutiae like the trees used in a photosim or rendering.


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