Spring 2005, p.16

Safe Streets
Making Streets Safe for Seniors
135th Street Design Workshop

Overview of 135th Street between Lenox Avenue and the Harlem River Drive.

Overview of 135th Street between Lenox Avenue and the Harlem River Drive.

Transportation alternatives’ Safe Routes for Seniors campaign is a New York State Department of Health funded effort to encourage walking by making streets safer. Now in the third year, the campaign engages neighborhoods in Harlem, as well as Washington Heights and Inwood. While the people, places and streets change, many of the solutions to problematic intersections remain the same. In the case presented here people living in the Riverton Houses at 135th and Madison Avenue in Manhattan are essentially stranded during much of the day when to venture out means braving one of New York City’s most dangerous intersections.

When there are many pedestrians on the streets there is a “safety in numbers” effect, making crossing more tolerable. But at certain times of the day, there are only a few pedestrians willing to brave the intersection, many of them seniors crossing with turning trucks and buses. The results range from unnerving to tragic. At right are some problems faced by local seniors. More importantly there are solutions for each problem, developed in the Safe Routes for Seniors’ first street re-design workshop at the Central Harlem Senior Citizen’s Coalition located a few blocks from 135th and Madison.

Two problems have been mentioned by all of the seniors we have surveyed. They do not have enough time to cross the street, and vehicles do not yield to them in the crosswalks. The tenants’ association at Riverton Houses has already fought and won additional protected crossing time at 135th Street and Madison Avenue. This small, inexpensive change gives local seniors hope and courage that they can win additional, much needed improvements.


LENOX AVENUE

Lenox Avenue.

Poorly designed corners and uneven streets.
Poorly designed corners and uneven streets
LENOX AVENUE

Top 3 Problems

1. One instead of two pedestrian ramps at each corner.
2. Cars and trucks turn into people in crosswalks.
3. Medians stop short of providing a refuge for pedestrians.

Solutions:

1. Create accessible ramps on all corners.
2. Provide at all least five seconds for pedestrians to cross before vehicle can move.
3. Extend medians into crosswalks, adding pedestrian ramps and bollards.

 

 

Extending medians into crosswalk would make this crossing safer.

Extending medians into crosswalk would make this crossing safer.


5th AVENUE

Fifth Avenue.

5th AVENUE

Top 3 Problems:

1. Cars and trucks turn into people in crosswalks.
2. 5th Avenue changes from two to one direction here, so cars move from two to three lanes in intersection.
3. Eastbound cars rush through intersection to reach bridge to Bronx.

Solutions:

1. Extend curbs into street to put pedestrians before cars.
2. Reduce width of 5th Avenue with bike lanes or median.
3. Create mid-block light and speed bumps at Lincoln Terrace Place to slow vehicles prior to intersection.

Wide streets lead to speeding and unpredictable vehicular movements.

Wide streets lead to speeding and unpredictable vehicular movements.

 


MADISON AVENUE

Madison Avenue.

MADISON AVENUE

The truth is in the paint; corner cutting cars are rampant.
The truth is in the paint; corner cutting cars are rampant.

Top 3 Problems:

1. Cars and trucks turn into people in crosswalks.
2. People crossing north and south do not have enough time to cross the street.
3. General confusion for pedestrians as to when they should cross.

Solutions:

1. Extend curbs into streets and place bollards mid-crosswalks to stop cars from turning diagonally into crosswalks.
2. Provide at least nine seconds for pedestrians to cross before vehicles can move.
3. Direct all pedestrian signals at correct angles and install audible pedestrian signals to direct pedestrians across each street.

Pedestrians and cars battle for the same crossing times.

Pedestrians and cars battle for the same crossing times.

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