City Council Wants DOT to Relieve Crowding on NYC’s Most Congested Sidewalks

The bill sponsored by Ydanis Rodriguez would require the agency to develop strategies for six locations where pedestrian crowding is most intense.

The short-lived 32nd Street sidewalk widening, near Penn Station, in 2015. Photo: Stephen Miller
The short-lived 32nd Street sidewalk widening, near Penn Station, in 2015. Photo: Stephen Miller

The City Council is expected to pass two bills today intended to improve the pedestrian environment.

Intro 1285-A, sponsored by transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, would require DOT to “identify six locations with significant pedestrian traffic and develop strategies for enhancing safety and traffic flow at such locations.” DOT would report back no later than June 2018.

“It’s a response to what New Yorkers need and want,” Rodriguez told AMNY. “New Yorkers need a wider sidewalk to be able to walk safe and not be pushed to take to the street.”

Areas where pedestrian crowding is especially intense include downtown Flushing and the streets near Penn Station, where people on foot have to walk in motor vehicle lanes and bike lanes to get around.

The city has made some progress around Penn but sidewalks on the avenues and 34th Street aren’t sufficient for all the foot traffic. Some recent improvements haven’t stuck, either. In partnership with Vornado Realty Trust, the city installed a temporary sidewalk expansion on 32nd Street in 2015. While the project relieved crowding, complaints from property owners torpedoed the improvements. (There’s now movement afoot to bring the wider sidewalk back.)

A second bill, Intro 1177-A, would require DOT to explore the feasibility of installing Barnes Dance crossings at intersections where motorists are more likely to strike people walking. The resulting report, to be submitted no later than August, would include an update on the DOT’s 2016 campaign to reduce injuries caused by drivers making left turns. The bill is sponsored by Rodriguez and Upper West Side rep Helen Rosenthal.

The council is scheduled to vote on the bills this afternoon. Both are supported by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasio, according to a Rodriguez press release.

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