DOT's Midtown No-Turn Initiative is Pedestrian Boon
Pedestrians outnumber vehicles 20 to 1 on cross-town streets in Midtown Manhattan. Yet this walking majority must contend with suffocating, crowded sidewalks, many of which have been narrowed to move motor vehicle traffic faster.
In early October, the Department of Transportation announced its new "Thru Streets" initiative, in which turns off of 36th, 37th, 45th, 46th, 49th, 50th, 53rd, 54th, 59th and 60th streets will be prohibited between Third and Sixth Avenues on weekdays between 10 am and 6 pm from October 15 to January 15. And, while the DOT pitched the plan as a way to move cross-town traffic, the greatest beneficiaries will actually be the tens of thousands of pedestrians who will no longer have to contend with turning cars. Kudos to the DOT and Mayor Bloomberg for "Thru Streets," a worthwhile experiment that helps pedestrians and moves traffic. If it works, it will help make Giuliani's ill-conceived pedestrian barricades a distant memory.
Along with eliminating turns on 10 streets, the DOT is using traffic signals to give pedestrians priority over turning vehicles at 37 additional intersections between 42nd and 60th Streets. Signals will be timed so that motorists intending to turn will be stopped by a red turn arrow while pedestrians cross. Then pedestrians will be stopped while motorists turn. This is called a "split phase" signal. Overall, pedestrians will get two-thirds of the crossing time and turning cars one-third. While overall pedestrian crossing times will be reduced by a third from their current length, pedestrians will not have to face turning motor vehicles, which are a major safety problem and cause of delay for pedestrians.
For more information,
including a map and diagram of "Thru Streets" and the Split Phasing