Delancey Street will finally score some much needed pedestrian safety improvements beginning next week. The several blocks on the Lower East Side between the Bowery and the Williamsburg Bridge have long been among the most dangerous areas for pedestrians in Manhattan, but the Department of Transportation (DOT) will finally begin work on the corner of Delancey and Clinton. While New York is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities around, this 11-block stretch has been dangerous for cars and deadly for pedestrians. Between 2006 and 2010, over 700 accidents and 9 deaths have occurred. We’re excited to see these improvements finally taking place to make this part of town less scary for those who want to walk or bike instead of drive.
The long crosswalks at such intersections as Essex and Clinton Streets have been a huge part of the problem. Of the 118 pedestrian injuries recorded between 2006 and 2010, 39 of them were at the Essex intersection. Half the time, accidents at Essex and Delancey happened while pedestrians crossed the street. Many vehicles failed to yield, and the congestion during rush hour as drivers approached the Williamsburg hardly helped matters. But help is on the way.
By far the most important Delancey Street improvement will be the shortening of crosswalks at 14 locations. DOT workers will widen sidewalks so that pedestrians do not have to rush to cross Delancey, a constant nagging problem that ended up making this street one of the most dangerous in the city. Drivers should find relief too: the streets will have clearer lanes painted and signage should improve. Another promise the DOT says its workers will deliver is that the area’s traffic signals will gain improved timing. And in a nod to the 21st century, walklights will have countdown signals that will give pedestrians the exact amount of seconds they have to cross the street.
The most significant improvement, however, will be at the Clinton Street intersection. The intersection’s northeast crosswalk will be 49 feet shorter, thanks to an extension of the sidewalk that will almost resemble a pedestrian plaza. An improved flow of traffic and the reduced fear that pedestrians will have for their lives should be a huge benefit all around.