Increased enforcement of Don’t Block the Box coming to 86th Street and Seventh Avenue

The intersection of Seventh Avenue and 86th Street is one of 50 around the five boroughs chosen for stepped up enforcement of block the box infractions whose goal is to decrease traffic congestion across the city.

The announcement was made by New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Chief Thomas Chan on Monday, March 5 at the intersection of Broadway and Broome Street in SoHo.

“We know traffic can be frustrating, but blocking the box just causes gridlock for everybody — bus riders, pedestrians, cyclists and your fellow motorists,” said Trottenberg.  “Please be courteous and safe — and don’t block the box.”

Blocking the box occurs when a driver blocks an intersection after the light has changed because traffic ahead has made it impossible for his or her vehicle to proceed through and past it.

Councilmember Justin Brannan said that the move is a step in the right direction.

“I think some traffic enforcement would go a long way around here,” he told this paper. “Right now, I see lots of parking tickets being written but not much else. Not only is this new enforcement important for traffic flow but it should make it safer for pedestrians to cross 86th Street.”

DOT has installed special markings and updated signage at the key intersections, including the Bay Ridge one, to make drivers aware of the restrictions.  The city chose intersections along major routes leading to river crossings, highway on-ramps, and commercial centers.

“Late last year, we announced a series of initiatives designed to address congestion issues around New York City, a symptom of the city’s record population and economic vitality,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “Blocking the box is one area where focused NYPD enforcement can and will make a big difference to keep traffic moving around hot spots in every borough.”

The NYPD is slated to increase enforcement at these locations to keep traffic moving, hiring an additional 50 uniformed officers to enforce block-the-box violations.

A block-the-box parking violation could be a $115 fine, said Chan, while a moving violation would be $138 along with two points against the driver’s license.

According to de Blasio, the Clear Intersections effort is part of the his plan to reduce congestion, which includes other tactics citywide such as the Clear Lanes, Clear Curbs, Clear Zones and Clear Highways initiatives. These efforts will help keep traffic moving, clear curbs during rush hours, ensure intersections are kept clear of congestion, limit curbside access in crowded corridors, and bring coordinated attention to recurring traffic hot spots on local highways.

Details about other elements of the congestion initiative will be announced in the near future, according to the administration.

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