Crosswalks on Van Brunt

Getting local for a moment, very local, as I’m right off Van Brunt at the moment, this article — about a lack of crosswalks on Van Brunt Street — is a bit odd.

The only crosswalks that span the increasingly busy Van Brunt Street are at Sullivan, Wolcott and Bowne streets. That leaves about a half-mile stretch with no absolutely crosswalks, that familiar cross-hatching pattern that alerts drivers of that pedestrians are likely to be present.

In other parts of the country, drivers may actually stop at marked crosswalks — as the law actually requires — but in NYC, marked crosswalks (sans stop sign or traffic light) are quite rare; probably because no driver actually stops at them, which is my experience on Van Brunt. They certainly don’t seem to influence driver behavior, based on the ridiculous approach speeds of outer-borough drivers headed to Fairway.

I’m not a fan of putting in traffic signals for the sake of it, but that seems to me the only chance of bringing some order — and chances for non-harried pedestrian crossing — to Van Brunt, which by rough calculation must be one of the longest — and most populated — streets in NYC, with hardly any traffic signals.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 10:08 am and is filed under Etc., Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Crosswalks on Van Brunt”

  1. Josh R Says:

    Yeah, I’ve walked in NYC on a couple of trips. Trusting your life to the fact that you’re in a marked crosswalk should be grounds for committal to a mental institution for your own safety.

  2. Jim PE Says:

    The seminal study on marked crosswalks has shown that at best, they do nothing for pedestrian safety, and, at higher speed, multilane roads, they actually are associated with more pedestrian crashes than equivalent crossings without markings.

  3. Tony P Says:

    The key point in Zegeer’s “seminal study”, as quoted in Jim’s link is that: “The design issue is not “if” pedestrians are part of the equation, but “how” they can best be included.” So, if marking crosswalks is not sufficient to provide safety, then more needs to be done (such as raised median refuges, advanced stop lines, etc., as noted in the link).

    I think something missing from this study (and previous ones, such as the San Diego study that suggest a “false sense of security” in marked crosswalks) is consideration of why motorists fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and whether a policy of generally not marking crosswalks, as followed in San Diego and many other communities for 30-some years after the oft mis-interpreted study there, breeds a false sense of entitlement on the part of motorists (i.e., lack of marked crosswalks reinforces the motorists’ belief that pedestrians don’t belong in the road and their ignorance of the presence of unmarked crosswalks; it is really rather fantastic to expect that motorists, who ignore such posted direction as speed limits and stop signs, would somehow pay attention to invisible demarcations for pedestrian safety). More specifically, I’d like to see a study of the potential “halo effects” of comprehensive marking of crosswalks within a city. Such an effect has been observed with photo enforcement of traffic signals; it is reasonable to expect, and anecdotal evidence in “pedestrian friendly” cities suggests that the more obvious the pedestrian infrastructure, the better yielding behavior by motorists.

    The other, rather obvious consideration, is that the faster traffic is moving, the less likely motorists are to yield to pedestrians, as it’s just more difficult and disruptive to stop from a high speed than a low one. The indictment should not be of marked crosswalks, but rather of high-speed roads in pedestrian environments.

    As the Zegeer study points out, the behavioral aspects have not been well studied. Rather, previous researchers have focused on speculation about the behavior of pedestrians (the unsupported “false sense of security” of the victims), while almost completely ignoring the behavior of the motorists (the ones doing the killing).

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