Public Hearing on Preventing Deaths and Injuries Caused by Reckless and Negligent Drivers

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I am including documentation from NYPD in my written testimony stating that her death is not included in the statistics that then former Mayor Giulaini used to discuss the city’s falling crime rate even though his tough on crime reputation was the basis of much of his pre 9/11 popularity. This shows that there is a political dis-incentive not to deal with this issue. We must change that.

The next set of solutions deals specifically with our signal system.

In 1914 Cleveland unveiled the first modern traffic light. Unknown to most people today traffic signals were installed to speed traffic up not to slow it down. Which is why there were tiny statuettes of Mercury, the god of speed, on NYC’s first traffic lights.

Although the control and timing of signal was centralized and computerized in the 1960’s, basically our signals haven’t changed much since the 1920’s.

There’s very few items we depend on everyday as old as traffic signals. I believe it’s time that we take a look at our signal system and how we can modernize it to enhance public safety.

Solution 4
Add a separate light cycle for pedestrians where needed (Barne’s Dance).

This would have prevented the deaths of Victor Flores 11 and Juan Estrada 10 who were killed on February 9th walking home from school.

Juan and victor were crossing with the light and were killed in the crosswalk. These avoidable deaths are actually a very important death for this committee to study because it points the design failure of our current infrastructure to provide for safe use of our streets by all residents.

Let me pause on that for a second. Our current infraststructure is so poorly designed that it cannot support the safe use of residents even when they are following the rules.

The pedestrian phase Explained: What’s required on busy corners and problem intersections is to add another cycle to the lights so that pedestrians can cross safely without having cars turn into them. Native New Yorkers over 50 remember this as an idea tried under Lindsay’s administration called the Barnes Dance.

The way this works is that the lights are 4-way red for cars and 4-way green for pedestrians; This also allows pedestrians to cross the streets safely diagonally. By giving the pedestrian their own light cycle you effectively separate cars from pedestrians thus makeing crossing streets many times safer for pedestrians.

The city considered this experiment a failure. But was it? The Barnes dance was not a failure at all. Which is why any city resident who remembers it, remembers it fondly. The city only looked at the Barnes dance as a way to speed up cars not to make the streets safer for pedestrians. If they had looked at it as a way to make the streets safer for pedestrians they would have kept it. It’s time to bring it back.

Solution 5 - Phase-ins
All intersections not requiring a Barnes Dance should have phase ins. A phase in works by giving the pedestrian a couple second lead on a changing light allowing them to get out in the middle of the street forcing drivers to safely allow pedestrians to pass before starting their turns.

Solution 6
Signals timed for human beings. Of all the problems with traffic signals in New York the easiest one to fix is that of signal timing. Every light should stay green long enough so that anyone who needs to get across the street safely can. As unbelievable as it seems there are pedestrian signals in New York City's where it is impossible for a fast healthy walker to make it across the street before the signal changes, let alone a Sr. citizen.

Solution 7
Audible tones should be incorporated into traffic signals to assist visually impaired people. Signals for blind people. By designing our city for the most at risk residents we make it safer for everyone.

Solution 8
Different flash cycle make cross walks safer with a simple modification to our signal system (pedestrians signals flash on walk instead of don't walk). Please interchange walk for man and don’t walk for hand with new symbols.

Our current signal system has a design flaw that makes crossing streets unnecessarily dangerous for pedestrians We all know the way a pedestrian signal works. It reads “Walk” when you are supposed to cross and begins to flash and then reads a solid “Don’t walk” when you are supposed to wait.

But what happens when the “walk” starts to flash “don’t walk” when you’re in the middle of an intersection? More importantly what does a driver think of this? The message being communicated to the driver is that the pedestrian is crossing against the signal even though the pedestrian is legally in the crosswalk. This dangerous situation happens all the time. Where drivers fail to yield to pedestrians because they think the legal pedestrians are crossing against the signal.

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