In 2021, there were 273 NYC traffic fatalities (with 125 of them being pedestrians) — reaching their highest point since 2013.
Though there have been community efforts to help protect pedestrians from harm’s way — from petitions to lower speed limits to requests for dedicated bike lanes — the city has now planned specific design enhancements to help improve intersections, which are the leading sites of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Mayor Adams released the plan at the start of the new year, which builds on Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” project.
This includes the design of over 1,000 intersections across the city, with elements from improved traffic signals, to cut curbs at high-traffic locations, to bike corrals to, perhaps most notably, raised crosswalks.
For the raised crosswalks initiative, NYC’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has made a pledge to “construct 100 raised crosswalks at curb level” every single year. They say that not only are raised crosswalks more accessible for the disabled community, but they also help forcibly slow drivers down (essentially acting as speed bumps). They won’t be on any major roads, but rather pedestrian-heavy areas like near schools or parks.
Raised crosswalks are pedestrian crossings constructed at a higher elevation than the roadway. They combine the benefits of a speed bump with increased accessibility and enhanced visibility for the pedestrians crossing. pic.twitter.com/GbOZ70wsyu
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) March 2, 2022
This effort has already begun at a busy intersection in Washington Heights, the New York Times recently reported. The crosswalk at 181st Street and Fort Washington Avenue, which has seen 26 injuries due to vehicular accidents in the last five years (including 14 pedestrians), was recently raised four inches.
In addition to these physical efforts, a new DOT traffic rule also went into place in January, that states that for intersections without a stop sign or traffic signal, “drivers and cyclists passing through [such intersections] must not simply yield but fully stop until a pedestrian has completely crossed the street.” They noted the NYPD will strongly enforce this and also failure-to-yield (FTY) violations.
You can read more about street safety efforts in the city’s announcement here.