downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 18 | September 15 - 21, 2006

City promises South End safety study

By Ronda Kaysen

The city will take a new look at pedestrian crossings on South End Ave.—and if problems are found, changes might follow, a city official told Battery Park City residents recently.

Residents have long complained about pedestrian safety on South End Ave., a wide street that stretches along the southern end of the neighborhood from Two World Financial Center near Liberty St. to South Cove near Third Place.

“The traffic down here is getting worse and worse and drivers don’t obey the signs,” said Maria Smith, a public member of Community Board 1, at a Sept. 5 meeting that Lori Ardito, Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner for the city Dept. of Transportation, attended.

South End Ave. begins and ends with cul-de-sacs, making it a well-used turn-around for taxis, buses and cars heading out of the neighborhood and onto the West Side Highway. One intersection in particular — at Rector Place — frustrates pedestrians because it has no traffic signal.

“You are unique in Manhattan, but you aren’t unique citywide,” said Ardito at the C.B. 1 meeting. “Many neighborhoods don’t have stoplights or stop signs at every intersection.”

Pedestrians heading toward the bus stop on the opposite side of Rector Pl. or to the Rector St. pedestrian bridge must walk a block out of their way, if they want to cross with a signal.

Ardito pledged her agency would conduct a four-month study of the intersection at Rector Place. If the study warrants changes, the agency could add a traffic light, stop sign or other measure to ease the crossing for pedestrians. She promised to “send someone out at the worst hour of the day to study it.”

Even the streets with signals are problematic. Albany St., which has a light, “is not safe either,” said C.B. 1 member Jeff Galloway, because a pedestrian must contend with turning traffic. Head south to the West Thames St. intersection and pedestrians are faced with a stop sign on only the south side of the street. The safest crossing is two long blocks north of Rector St., at Liberty St. “But it’s not particularly safe, either,” said Galloway, because 100 percent of the vehicles are turning.

So what is a pedestrian to do? “Probably the safest spot to cross is to jaywalk between Liberty and Albany,” said Galloway. “But that’s not safe either. The bottom line is there’s no safe way to cross the street.”

Ardito said she’d send the D.O.T. out to look at the other intersections and find ways to make them more pedestrian friendly.

“There are a number of things that we can do to reduce conflicts with pedestrians,” like delaying traffic signals for pedestrians, said D.O.T. spokesperson Christopher Gilbride. “There are a number of tools that we have in the toolbox.”



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