Keeping streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists is the goal for the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) which has announced a new pilot program, Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs).
The program, announced on Tuesday, March 27 at the corner Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue which was attended by Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, DOT representatives and others, will allow cyclists to follow pedestrian head start signals at 50 designated intersections across the city, including 18 along Fourth Avenue in Menchaca’s district.
“At DOT we are very excited about this pilot program,” said Senior Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Sean Quinn during the conference.
LPIs, he explained, “Give people on foot seven to 11 seconds to start crossing before drivers are allowed to proceed through the intersection or make turns to the crosswalk,” and, he stressed, “We have seen that LPIs save lives, playing a significant role in New York City’s historic 32 percent drop in pedestrian deaths last year. Cycling safety has also improved considerably but there is still progress to be made. And with this plan we hope that LPIS can provide that same safety benefits to cyclists.”
He added that DOT’s recent Safer Cycling study revealed that 65 percent of cyclist fatalities and 89 percent of serious cyclist-vehicle crashes (including fatalities) occurred at intersections.
“DOT’s 2016 Don’t Cut Corners study found a 56 percent reduction in serious injury and fatal pedestrian and bicycle crashes from the LPI treatment,” he said. As a result, “DOT installed a record 832 LPIs in 2017 for a total of 2,547 LPIs throughout the city, seven times the number prior to Vision Zero.”
Menchaca, an avid bicyclist, discussed the significance of the pilot program.
“Vision Zero brought us the opportunity to really reexamine what it is to live in a city like New York,” he said. “These last few weeks, we saw the deaths of some young people in our community and that death toll continues to rise even though we are doing so much right now to make our streets safer. It took us some time to get here but I have to say that while the wheels of government turn slowly, they turn and they bring these beautiful programs to life.”
Along Fourth Avenue, signs indicating that cyclists can move with the LPI will be installed at Dean Street, 63rd Street, 62nd Street, 59th Street, 46th Street, 43rd Street, 42nd Street, 41st Street, 40th Street, 38th Street, 37th Street, 36th Street, 35th Street, 30th Street, 29th Street, 21st Street, 19th Street and 18th Street.
The study period will end in October
“We’ll be watching the results closely, measuring the various impacts of the pilot, to determine our next steps at the end of the study period,” said Quinn. “Mostly we will be looking at the safety data in these 50 intersections and comparing them to other intersections where the signs aren’t up to see the impacts.”
“We must continue to challenge the status quo in the pursuit of advancing street safety for all,” said Borough President Eric Adams in a statement. “Capitalizing on existing roadway safety technology in the expansion of eligible users of our Leading Pedestrian Intervals could produce good bang-for-our-buck gains, not only in transportation investment but more importantly in public safety.”
“Permitting cyclists to follow pedestrian head-start signals at 50 designated intersections will help keep bicycles and pedestrians separated from autos,” added Assemblymember Felix Ortiz in a statement. “This is a strong step forward as the city continues its Vision Zero campaign to make New York a safer place.”