TA: Vision Zero Demands Bolder Street Designs From City Hall and DOT

A template for two-way street design with pedestrian medians, protected bike lanes, transit lanes, and other elements from the "Vision Zero Design Standard." Image: Transportation Alternatives
A template for two-way street design with pedestrian medians, protected bike lanes, transit lanes, and other elements from TA's "Vision Zero Design Standard." Image: Transportation Alternatives

The de Blasio administration needs to redesign streets more thoroughly if it’s going to reach the goal of eliminating traffic deaths, Transportation Alternatives says in a new report.

While traffic fatalities have dropped during the de Blasio administration, progress has stalled: 2016 marked the first year of the Vision Zero era without a significant improvement.

TA’s report, “The Vision Zero Street Design Standard,” lays out guidelines to maximize the impact of DOT safety projects. All Vision Zero projects should discourage speeding, be accessible regardless of age or ability, and encourage walking, biking, and transit, says TA:

By controlling speed and nudging drivers towards safer behavior, injuries and deaths can be avoided. In other words, street designs can protect road users from the consequences of human error, and critically, those changes are cast in concrete.

The report provides a checklist of 10 design treatments to achieve those goals, including protected bike lanes, exclusive pedestrian signals, and narrower vehicle lanes — elements that DOT already deploys, but without the consistency that Vision Zero demands.

Even DOT’s better safety projects fall short of the standard. The redesign of Queens Boulevard, where DOT added bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements, only has three of the ten elements (ADA accessibility, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian islands).

And the Atlantic Avenue “Great Streets” project includes only pedestrian islands and better accessibility.


Atlantic Avenue at Elton Street has only two of design standard elements. Image: DOT
DOT’s plan for a Atlantic Avenue at Elton Street has only two of design standard elements. Image: DOT

TA says that “a large-scale program of street redesign” based around these design principles would accelerate the safety impact of Vision Zero. But City Hall has not committed sufficient funds to “feasibly reconstruct all [of NYC’s] dangerous arterial roads within 50 years.”

For two years running, T.A. and the City Council have called on the mayor to commit more funding to Vision Zero street redesigns. Will 2017 be the year that de Blasio delivers a budget to match his ambitious street safety targets?

  • HamTech87

    The plan for Atlantic Avenue sucks.

  • J

    I agree with TA’s message (DOT needs better designs), but the drawings TA put forward are hardly inspirational. This would be a great place to push for protected intersections and center-running BRT, but instead they show mixing zones and offset bus lanes, neither of which is new to the NYCDOT toolkit, nor is either particularly effective. Seems like TA needs to break out of the NYC bubble just as much as DOT does. Here’s a more inspirational example. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/79b77ef719bfcd9d8b949c1fa02d218dc05747429b7ccea5d7d7b7fa488a2fd0.png

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Streetsblog published this 6 months ago: “Evidence That Split-Phase Signals Are Safer Than Mixing Zones for Bike Lanes” http://nyc.streetsblog.org/2016/01/25/evidence-that-split-phase-signals-are-safer-than-mixing-zones-for-bike-lanes/

    Recently I’ve noticed that the split-phase signals installed on many of the protected bike lanes aren’t actually operating as split phase! They’re doing a leading cycling interval, and then going to left flashing yield.

    In a City where funds are scarce, they are going through the expense of installing these signals and then not running the full split phase? WTF? This is not Vision Zero.

  • J

    Or better yet, show good design that actually exists, as in this street in Amsterdam, which has:
    1) Fully protected bike lane
    2) protected bike intersections
    3) Raised crosswalks & bike xings
    4) Bulbouts everywhere possible
    5) protected, median-aligned transit lanes


  • Jeff

    I actually like these signals. True split-phase makes the bike/ped crossing phase way too short, and compliance (on behalf of pedestrians and cyclists) tends to be low, meaning motorists turning into a crosswalk with a green arrow and a presumed absolute right-of-way with pedestrians still crossing anyway. I feel like this L(B/P)I compromise works well.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I find it completely terrifying during rush hour, particularly in the dark. This is not suitable for people of all ages and abilities and at this rate it never will be.

  • The Guest

    Who elected TAi? Oh yeah, nobody. Just keep putting out those reports, New Yorkers need a good giggle.

  • Joe R.

    The problem here isn’t whether it’s split phase, flashing yield, or no signal at all. Rather, it’s the concept of mixing zones themselves. The idea is frankly brain dead and violates best practice in countries with high cycling mode share. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in all the videos and pictures of seen of bike infrastructure in the Netherlands. Either they use protected intersections (not practical in NYC where you have intersections every 250 feet), or they ban cars from turning across the bike lane at most places. A practical solution for NYC is to just ban turns across the bike lane at all minor streets, and maybe have the bike lane on an overpass at major ones to avoid all conflicts. It may be more costly, but it’ll be far safer. It’ll also avoid red light delays at major intersections. Cars intruding into bike lanes every other block to turn is what makes this infrastructure unsuitable for people of all ages and abilities.

  • localmile

    The drawing at the top showcases a lot of poor design that will leave bicycle riders exposed and endanger them. TA & Streetsblog need to be pushing for infrastructure that is truly safe, ideally built to CROW standards but at a minimum built to the new MassDOT standards.

  • Daniel

    It looks a lot like the awful redesign at East Houston St. Everyone living near it is shaking their head at that 1990’s era thinking horror show. That project at least has the excuse of having been started before the city gave any lip service to trying to make our streets safe. That anyone is making new plans like that in 21st century Brooklyn is appalling.

  • Charlie Otto

    I prefer the protected intersection and protected cyclelane designs coming out of Northern Europe. We have toured there many times and realy enjoy this safe infrastructure. http://www.protectedintersection.com


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