DOT Proposes to “Remove the Unpredictability” for Drivers and Pedestrians on New Utrecht Avenue
By Yehudit Garmaise
Clearly defined crosswalks, raised crosswalks, painted curb extensions, expanded concrete pedestrian islands, and improved visibility of pedestrians are a few of the significant safety improvements the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing for four crosswalks on New Utrecht Avenue that show higher-than-average crash rates compared to the rest of the city.
After taking note of the large number of crashes that unfortunately take place on New Utrecht Avenue, the DOT designated four of its Boro Park intersections as Vision Zero Priority Areas, which are slated to undergo safety upgrades this year.
“An element of unpredictability” amid heavy traffic is what currently plagues the New Utrecht Avenue intersections at 54th, 55th, 60th, and 61st Streets, according to Ayalah Alvarez who presented the DOT’s safety improvement proposals last night at Community Board 12’s monthly meeting.
The large number of crashes that occur at different angles on New Utrecht Avenue revealed to the DOT “that drivers are dealing with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, poor driving visibility, and just a general hectic use of the roadway,”
Alvarez said. “There are numerous points of conflict, so the roadway can feel very disorganized and put both drivers and pedestrians in danger at multiple points.”
The DOT counted up to 70 pedestrians a day who seek out shorter, more clearly defined routes to cross New Utrecht, whose crosswalks remain unmarked, disconnected, and overly long, Alvarez said.
Tragedy, cv”s, can strike as pedestrians’ created routes are often not predictable, nor visible to drivers.
Adding to the confusion, the intersections’ bow-tie style configuration with multiple legs of moving traffic intersecting creates multiple points of potential collision between drivers and pedestrians, Alvarez pointed out.
“The intersections can become quite hectic when there is a lot going on,” Alvarez said with understatement.
To allow pedestrians to cross more safely, the DOT now proposes to “better organize the roadway and create new crosswalks that establish clear pathways for children, adults, seniors, and people who use walkers, wheelchairs, or have other mobility issues, said Alvarez, whom Community Board 12 District Manager Barry Spitzer thanked “for looking out for the safety of the community.”
During the DOT’s presentation, another board member noted said the DOT’s ideas offered, “pretty good improvements.”
“DOT provided similar safety improvements a while back on Fort Hamilton and 44 Street, which has been a much safer intersection ever since.”