Bye-bye “Boulevard of Death.”
Sixty-six intersections along Queens Boulevard have acquired pedestrian countdown signals (PCS), the latest safety improvement made by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) throughout the borough. These fixtures, among over 2,100 new countdown signals installed in Queens in 2011, inform walkers of how much time is left before the light changes, keeping them from stepping into oncoming traffic.
“Safety numbers are more than statistics, safety is a nonstop campaign to prevent unnecessary, avoidable tragedies on our streets,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who announced the introduction of the new PCS devices on Tuesday, January 24. “Though these tragedies are less common for pedestrians on Queens Boulevard today, we do not take these gains for granted and continue to take aggressive steps to make our streets even safer.”
The seven-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard now adorned with PCS devices was once an infamously dangerous street, the backdrop for 18 pedestrian fatalities at the height of its peril in 1997, according to the DOT. Since 2004, there have been one or two such fatalities a year and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011 — the first time no pedestrian deaths were recorded since 1983, the first year detailed casualty records were kept.
The installation of PCS fixtures are part of the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, an initiative stemming from the study of over 7,000 crashes causing serious injuries or fatalities to pedestrians. The research analyzed the underlying causes of these accidents, discovering that pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier when they occur on wider streets.
As of October 2011, the DOT installed countdown signals at 842 of these broad intersections throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including major traffic ways such as the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island and Broadway in Manhattan.