Volume 22, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 30 - November 6, 2009
By Sam Schwartz
Downtowners are angry about traffic officers “pulling” traffic through red lights imperiling pedestrians. I’ve already written to city officials conveying my worries that the trend is growing for traffic officers to override red traffic signals usually at the expense and sometimes peril of pedestrians. I know there are times that this is necessary to manage traffic during an incident or unusual conditions. But, if it is happening on a daily basis, then perhaps the traffic signal timing should be changed. Here are a couple more tirades below:
Dear Transit Sam,
I frequently need to walk or bike across West St. at Chambers St. The traffic agents are overriding the red and green light traffic signals. Every time I’m there waiting, the agents prevent east-west crossings for walkers, bikers, cars and buses when the light is green in our favor. This is ridiculous. Let the traffic signals dictate the flow. The traffic agents are not even necessary.
Dear Transit Sam,
I was particularly interested to read your response to the letter from Johnny, Brooklyn Bridge (Oct. 16 - 22). I also have noticed traffic agents routinely directing traffic through red lights and into pedestrians. I live near the corner of Adams and Tillary Sts. in Brooklyn where cars are routinely shuffled through the right-turning red arrow to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge from Tillary St. I’ve filed several complaints with 311 about this issue because it happens to me so frequently, yet no one ever follows up. I finally had enough.
I was walking home from the library on Oct. 14 and had just stepped out from the Brooklyn Bridge median. I had the white walk signal (not even orange flashing). The agent watched me step off the curb and then began directing traffic in my direction. The cars even hesitated since they saw there was still a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but the agent just yelled at them to keep going. I confronted the traffic agent, but he claimed that he gave me more than enough time to cross the street. I then asked for his badge number and name, went home and filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. I’m not sure if this will go anywhere, but I do feel that my life was put in harm’s way by this officer and someone needs to deal with this issue. If you could please follow up on your letter to N.Y.C. D.O.T. and N.Y.P.D. and the response you receive, I would greatly appreciate it.
Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge
Sam Schwartz, a former first deputy commissioner of city transportation, is president and C.E.O. of Sam Schwartz Engineering, a traffic engineering consulting firm to private and public entities including the Port Authority at the World Trade Center site. Email your questions to TransitSam@DowntownExpress.com.