One other Manhattan neighborhood is asking for an finish to town guidelines that decelerate — and make much less equitable — the set up of essential street-safety infrastructure.
Neighborhood Board 7, representing the Higher West Facet, voted final week to ask the Division of Transportation to instantly set up a curb extension at 96th Road and West Finish Avenue — and to get rid of a requirement that such primary infrastructure wants a “group companion” to simply accept authorized legal responsibility for the brand new characteristic. The requirement for insurance coverage and a upkeep companion is commonly an impossibly heavy raise for neighborhoods that lack teams, resembling enterprise enchancment districts, that may take up the obligations.
“I’m significantly troubled that town is unwilling to make modifications to the road that are confirmed to avoid wasting lives except a group companion steps up who’s prepared and capable of present upkeep and insurance coverage,” stated Howard Yaruss, the co-chairman of CB7’s transportation committee. “I anticipate town to make these life-saving modifications in all communities and never simply in locations with the great fortune to have an eligible companion. I additionally query why town promotes unsafe circumstances by requiring insurance coverage for protected circumstances, however not for unsafe ones?”
The identical insurance coverage and legal responsibility requirement additionally explains the huge failure of town’s bike corral program, which managed to put in all of four corrals in 2019 and 2020 because of DOT’s insistence that it needs a neighborhood partner to create bike parking (although no such requirement exists when DOT creates automobile parking).
The CB7 decision demanded that the DOT “change the requirement of a upkeep companion and insurance coverage” for the amenity — a requirement that follows a similar ask from Neighborhood Board 4, representing the far West Facet from Midtown to Chelsea, which in August requested demanded that the DOT drop the requirement for insurance coverage and a upkeep companion for neckdowns citywide.
The coverage “contributes to avoidable pedestrian deaths and accidents,” the board’s letter to DOT acknowledged.
Curb extensions — also called “neckdowns” — have emerged as a rally cry amongst Manhattan street-safety activists who don’t perceive the gradual tempo of the DOT on such infrastructure, which disadvantages poorer neighborhoods. Neckdowns use concrete, typically protected by planters, paint or versatile bollards, to increase curbs both at intersections or midblock. They promote security by lowering crossing distances, relieving sidewalk crowding, slowing down turning automobiles and narrowing roads to be able to present extra room for pedestrians.
“We would like these options to be put in very simply in every single place,” CB4 member Christine Berthet stated when her board raised the problem.
The nook of 96th Road and West Finish Avenue has been a spotlight of community-safety effort for a decade. The largely residential space is house to many youngsters and seniors and is oppressed by typically high-speed automobile visitors from the Central Park 96th Road Transverse and 96th Road exits off the Henry Hudson Parkway. Automobile drivers killed at least three pedestrians, including 9-year-old Cooper Stock, in the area in 2014 alone. The southwest nook sits in entrance of Public School 75, the Emily Dickinson School.
The DOT has made enhancements to the road, together with flip lanes, however dying nonetheless stalks the realm. In 2019, beloved pediatrician Dr. Daniel Cammerman was mowed down by a school-bus driver within the 96th Road Transverse. And doorman Alfred Pocari, 64, was killed by a driver with two earlier unlicensed driving convictions.
“Life-saving avenue therapies shouldn’t require a upkeep companion,” stated Lisa Orman, the director of Streetopia Higher West Facet. “It’s pedestrian discrimination to recommend in any other case. To require legal responsibility insurance coverage is definitely insane. This basically precludes many neighborhoods within the metropolis from benefiting from one thing as easy — but life-saving — as a curb extension. The DOT must be redesigning the ten most harmful intersections in each group board with its toolkit. As an alternative, the company appears for tactics to burden neighborhoods and forestall pedestrians from strolling with peace and security. This has to cease!”
The CB7 decision comes as a state watchdog is criticizing the DOT for gradual and incomplete fixes of intersections. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli faulted the company for visitors research that took too lengthy, damaged visitors cameras, and undone enhancements in an audit analyzing its final 4 years of operations.
It additionally comes as a civic group, CityRise, is campaigning to offload some DOT functions to neighborhood and non-profit teams. The group argues that COVID-strapped budgets and the mayor’s singular give attention to the pandemic shouldn’t come on the expense of a surface-transportation restoration plan. (Full disclosure: The boards of Metropolis Rise and Streetsblog share some members.)
CB7 earlier this 12 months famously voted to ask the DOT to study utilizing its curbs for public functions apart from parking.
The DOT stated in August that it was reviewing the proposal to loosen the neckdown guidelines.