Sign the Petition to Fix Canal Street, “Manhattan’s Boulevard of Death”
Canal Street is Manhattan’s preeminent traffic sewer.
A loud, dirty, menacing torrent of motorized traffic with cramped sidewalks and no designated space for bicycling, Canal gets pulverized by the “trucker’s special,” which gives motorists a free ride across Lower Manhattan via the untolled Manhattan Bridge to the untolled westbound Holland Tunnel. The thousands of residents, workers, and tourists who traverse the street on foot every day are shoved to the margins.
Traffic crashes have killed 13 people on Canal since 2009, leading Transportation Alternatives to call it “Manhattan’s Boulevard of Death.” Last year, the victims included cyclist Edouard Menuau and a motor vehicle occupant who were killed in separate collisions at Bowery and Canal, at the foot of the bridge. Motorists have seriously injured 89 pedestrians and 39 cyclists on Canal since 2015, TransAlt says.
TransAlt has posted a petition calling for Canal Street to be overhauled for safe walking and biking. If you can make Canal Street a walkable, bikeable street, you can do it anywhere.
“The highway-like scene found on Canal Street lowers quality of life for all New Yorkers,” the petition reads. “Businesses struggle to receive deliveries along the corridor. Workers have carry massive loads, on foot, in the middle of car traffic. People walking to shops and storefronts do not fit on the sidewalk, and are forced into harm’s way.”
The goal is to gather 10,000 signatures and deliver them to city, state, and federal representatives, as well as local community boards.
There’s a strong connection between making Canal Street safer and enacting congestion pricing. Putting a price on the East River bridges would immediately shift some truck trips away from surface streets in Chinatown, Soho, and Tribeca by disrupting the free ride for westbound traffic across Manhattan, an issue that Council Member Margaret Chin tried to compel the city to address in 2015.
The reduction in bridge traffic enabled by congestion pricing opens up possibilities for physical design changes too. As with other traffic sewers feeding the East River bridges, ending the free ride for motorists would make it easier to claim street space on Canal for people walking and biking.