City Mulls Creating Wider Sightlines at Lower Manhattan Intersections
The City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is planning to modify 1,000 intersections throughout the five boroughs each year to increase pedestrian safety, with more than a dozen of these likely to be chosen in Lower Manhattan.
The new design is called “daylighting,” and it consists of removing parking spaces within 20 feet of intersections to create unobstructed sight lines for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others. State law already contains a provision requiring such safety buffers, but New York City preempts this mandate, making it legal for vehicles to park with their front bumpers as little as one inch from a painted crosswalk.
As it scouts for candidate sites for daylighting in each neighborhood, DOT is asking Community Board 1 (CB1) to recommend intersections in Lower Manhattan. At its January 23 meeting, CB1 enacted a resolution urging DOT to consider three corridors—Canal Street between West Street and the Bowery; Sixth Avenue from Franklin Street to Canal Street; and West Street between Canal Street and Battery Place. CB1 also asked DOT to focus on “blocks with a school, senior center, assisted living facility, facility for people with disabilities, hospital, park or library,” and a proposed “pedestrian priority area” surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge, Water Street, and Pearl Street.
The resolution calls upon DOT to install physical barriers that would prevent illegal parking at these intersections, with “boulders, bollards or heavy planters to block vehicle access until long-term safety measures such as sidewalk neckdowns can be instal
led to also calm traffic, shorten pedestrian crossings and increase the space that is available at corners.”
According to the online database Crashmapper.org, CB1 (which encompasses Manhattan below Canal, Pearl, and Baxter Streets, and the Brooklyn Bridge), was the site of 206 vehicular crashes in calendar year 2023, resulting in no fatalities, but 236 injuries (56 to cyclists, 75 to pedestrians, and 105 to motorists). This is up from one death and 197 total injuries in 2022, and nearly equal to the totals for 2021 (zero fatalities, but 234 injuries).
Sobering as they are, these tallies nevertheless rank Lower Manhattan first in terms of vehicle safety in all of Manhattan. (The most dangerous district is Community Board 11, which covers East Harlem.) Citywide, Lower Manhattan is listed as the 14th safest among the New York’s 74 community board districts.