Dangerous Chelsea Intersection To Get DOT Safety Treatment

DOT plans to redesign the dangerous intersection of Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street to enhance pedestrian safety.
DOT plans to redesign the dangerous intersection of Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street to enhance pedestrian safety.

One of the city’s most dangerous intersections, in the middle of a neighborhood full of senior citizens, is due for a safety upgrade. As part of the city’s Safe Streets for Seniors program, NYC DOT will be installing new pedestrian refuge islands and a small “transit plaza” to the corner of Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan, along with more conflict-free crossing time for pedestrians [PDF].

The crowded intersection — with pedestrians headed to the 1 train and the senior-friendly Penn South co-op one block away — is badly in need of a safety upgrade. According to the DOT, it’s at the 99th percentile for severity-weighted injuries in the city. Between 2004 and 2008, an average of eleven people were injured in traffic crashes at the intersection each year. Two people died in traffic crashes at the intersection since 2004. Though the intersection already had some safety features, notably a leading pedestrian interval to give those on foot a head start crossing the street, with two very wide streets meeting it wasn’t enough.

“This is one of those intersections where you have two-way streets that are very dangerous for pedestrians,” said Christine Berthet of the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety. Berthet noted that DOT’s landmark pedestrian safety study singled out two-way arterial streets like 23rd as particularly dangerous for pedestrians.

Berthet said she is “really pleased” with the redesign. Prohibiting left turns off 23rd and creating a separate left-turn phase off Seventh, she said, would mean fewer and more predictable conflicts between turning cars and pedestrians. “I wish we could have that on 42nd Street,” said Berthet. Boosting the total amount of protected crossing time for pedestrians from 31 percent of a given light sequence to 39 percent should help too.

Pedestrian refuge islands should also help pedestrians cross Seventh and additional pedestrian space in the roadbed on the southeast corner of the intersection will open up a bit of space near the entrance to the subway. To make room for the safety improvements, four parking spaces and three commercial parking spaces will be removed.

  • MRN

    “The city is killing business in this town. It’s like they don’t want us to have cars”

  • i’m assuming the design shown is the one they’re about to do away with, because i know the new one would provide adequate bike infrastructure, which we know makes pedestrians safer (and, of course, provides bicycle access to these streets).

  • MRN cars don’t buy things and don’t eat in restaurants. People do …

  • Peter, you know millions of people do not bike… and no there is no plan for bike infrastructure on 7th.

  • Peter, you know millions of people do not bike… and no there is no plan for bike infrastructure on 7th.

    millions of people do not drive, either. and there will be plans for bike infrastructure on 7th. wanna bet?

  • Hi

    What is the transit plaza exactly?

  • HI, transit plaza is DOTspeak for a sidewalk extension to accommodate subway commuter volumes ..

    Peter, That is what I meant, millions of people are pedestrians … and hopefully one day there will be a bike lane on every avenue ..but until then…..

  • Peter, That is what I meant, millions of people are pedestrians … and hopefully one day there will be a bike lane on every avenue ..but until then…..

    OK – so ‘only’ 200,000+ people bike every day in New York City – and that’s with little to no bike infrastructure. We have an epidemic of violence, sometimes deadly violence, directed against pedestrians and bikers, and we know that one of the best ways to combat that violence is to build bike lanes — this is proven.

    So, why would we take on such a massive project and throw cyclists and would-be cyclists under the bus? Is Transportation Alternatives too busy attacking cyclists to actually want to help them instead?

  • Hey guys, I’ve got a question, why some of the pedestrian crossings in New York have zebra painting and some don’t? Like in the project above…


  • Nick

    I have wondered exactly the same thing, Stan.

    I used to think that they did zebra crossings on newly paved streets, but alas that clearly isn’t true. Then I thought it was related to how important the intersection was in terms of traffic, but if that is the case why are only three of the four pedestrian crossings in this model zebra crossings?


  • Ben from Harlem

    I learned this from Streets Education:

    Generally speaking, zebra stripes are used to enhance pedestrian visibillity and safety at major intersections. Aside from extra busy areas, zebra stripes are also used on the main pedestrian approaches to schools and hospitals.

  • Great point . We will ask for zebra crossing

  • What, are they saving on paint? Can’t they use zebra crossings on all intersections? That would make sense…

  • DAF

    I’m a little late on this, but better late than never. There are three
    types of crosswalks in the city. There are Pedestrian Crosswalks, such
    as the crosswalk in the east leg of the above intersection (longitudinal
    stripes only, no transverse stripes), there are School Crosswalks, such
    as the other three (both transverse and longitudinal stripes), and
    there are High Visibility Crosswalks, which are the inverse of
    Pedestrian Crosswalks (transverse striping only, no longitudinal

    The school crosswalks are part of a very carefully thought out plan that
    is supposed to indicate which crosswalks a student is supposed to take
    if walking to school. For instance, if the student is coming from the
    southeast corner and wants to get to the northwest, the city things it
    will be a safer route for him/her to go west then north, rather than to
    go north then west.

    I am still unsure when NYCDOT Pavement Marking Division prefers to use
    High Visibility Crosswalks, but I would imagine that it would replace
    the use of a Pedestrian Crosswalks in instances of an approach where the
    driver cannot easily see where the crosswalk is.


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