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PR- 385-06
November 2, 2006


Six-Month Study to Test Impact of New Signals on Pedestrian Safety

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall in announcing a six-month pilot program to study the impacts on motorist and pedestrian behavior at sites where pedestrian signals will display the number of seconds pedestrians have to cross the street before a traffic signal turns red.  Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Weinshall unveiled the first of five countdown pedestrian signal locations, which will be tested in all five boroughs, at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

"Since New York is the nation's premiere walking city, it is important that we take every step we can to make crossing the street as safe as possible," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "I am pleased that New York will join other cities across the country that have this technology in place, and six months from now we will be able to assess the results of this pilot program to determine whether it should be expanded." 

"Even though we know we are not supposed to, we've all crossed the street after the pedestrian signal begins flashing a red hand," said Commissioner Weinshall.  "We hope that seeing just how little time is left to cross the street when the light begins flashing will encourage people to make the wise decision and stay put until it is safe to cross the street."

The pedestrian countdown signals are the same size as the existing pedestrian signal head, but feature a dual display - the traditional "Walking Man" and "Hand" display, and a pedestrian interval countdown display.  The countdown feature is programmed to start at the beginning of the "flashing hand" cycle and end when the flashing hand becomes steady.  At the five test intersections pedestrians will be given a minimum 15-second countdown before the light changes.

There are currently more than 100,000 pedestrian signals citywide.  The countdown pilot program will cost $186,000 for both the installation at the five chosen intersections as each intersection will require four signals to be changed, and the services of Greenman Pedersen Inc. (GPI), the engineering consulting firm that will be evaluating the program.  During this evaluation period, the City's consultant will examine how the new countdown feature affects both pedestrians and motorists to try to determine if the signals encourage safer behavior.  They

will also collect data on vehicular speeds, compliance, accidents and motorist reaction.  Pedestrian countdown signals are currently used in other cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Detroit, Albany and Baltimore. 

The remaining countdown pedestrian signals will be installed before November 3, 2006 and will be located at the following intersections:

  • In Staten Island at Hylan Boulevard & New Dorp Lane
  • In Queens at Hillside Avenue & 179th Place
  • In Manhattan at Avenue of the Americas & West 8th Street
  • In the Bronx at Southern Boulevard & East 149th Street

Countdown pedestrian signals are one of many innovative transportation programs the City is embarking on to create a safer pedestrian environment.  Over the last few years other pedestrian programs, such as creating Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI's) at busy intersections throughout the city, have been launched to provide additional walk time to cross the street.  The Administration's other innovations include reallocating road space to walkers by creating new pedestrian plazas throughout the five boroughs.  Earlier this year, the Administration opened a plaza in Downtown Brooklyn on Willoughby Street and at Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan and another will soon debut in front of Stuyvesant Town on 1st Avenue.   

Earlier this month the Department of Transportation announced the "Times Square Shuffle," to accommodate the more than 13,000 pedestrians an hour crowding sidewalks and overflowing into the roadways in Times Square during the busiest parts of the day.  The vehicle crossover between 7th Avenue and Broadway in Times Square has been closed and the re-striping of the streets will allow DOT to provide 50% more sidewalk space for pedestrians throughout this heavily traveled neighborhood.


Stu Loeser/Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958


Kay Sarlin   (Transportation)
(212) 442-7033

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