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City beefing up street safety with fancy crosswalks

Crossing the street is increasingly becoming a numbers game.

Officials are putting up 1,500 crosswalk signals across the city that will count down the time pedestrians have to sprint across the street, one of a smorgasbord of plans announced yesterday to help make walking safer throughout Gotham.
 
“We still see too many families devastated by traffic accidents,” Mayor Bloomberg said during an announcement in Corona, where a countdown crosswalk signal was recently installed.
 
The city has three times fewer traffic fatalities than it did two decades ago, but distracted drivers are still a leading cause of injury in the city, according to an exhaustive study released yesterday. Manhattan is particularly hairy for walkers, especially when crossing big avenues, the study found.
 
“I’ve been clipped before,” said Nathan Ramos, 36, of Harlem. “A lot of [the intersections] are just dangerous.”
 
Last year, the city began a pilot to install 24 LED countdown crosswalks signals, which many other cities have had for years. Now hundreds more will go up at wide, busy streets — where officials found them to be the most effective — by the end of this year, the city Department of Transportation said. The $4 million project will blanket the signals along 21 thoroughfares in Manhattan, including Broadway, Park Avenue and Riverside Drive.
 
Other proposals floated yesterday to increase pedestrian safety include:
 
- Testing a 20 miles-per-hour speed limit in a yet to be determined residential neighborhood.
- Adding pedestrian islands, plazas and better sidewalks along 60 miles of streets per year, including at 20 intersections along large Manhattan thoroughfares such as Canal, 57th and 125th streets.
 
- Removing parking at intersections to prevent blindspots for drivers when they turn left.
New Yorkers yesterday were eager to see their streets become less harrowing.
 
“Some of the crazier, bigger intersections can get scary during rush hours,” said Vanessa Guest, 27, of the Upper East Side. “I’m happy the city is finally addressing them.”
 
But it seems there’s one thing the improvements can’t solve: jaywalking.
 

“Drivers can be reckless, but so can pedestrians,” said Troy Hummel, 23, of Queens.

 

Tim Herrera contributed to this story.

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Number of NYC traffic fatalities:
2007: 274
2009: 256
City goal for 2030: 137
 
The most dangerous streets in Manhattan are Canal, 14th and 125th streets, Park Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. Here are some other facts about pedestrian accidents in the city:
- 80 percent of pedestrians are killed or severely injured by male drivers.
- 36 percent of pedestrian-involved accidents are caused by driver inattention; 8 percent of fatal crashes involve a drunk driver.
- There is a 20 percent increase in crashes during the November/December holiday season.
- A male child is three times more likely to be struck by a car than a female child.
 
Source: NYC DOT

 

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