Almost two years to the day after a student at Millennium High School, in the Financial District, was run down by a speeding driver, the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has agreed to take steps that may increase pedestrian safety in front of the school.
“The DOT has decided to install a ‘speed hump,’ which is a longer version of a speed bump, explains Paul Hovitz, vice chairperson of Community Board 1 (CB1) and co-chair of that panel’s Youth & Education Committee. “This one will be 20 feet from beginning to end.”
“They had turned down this request for the last two years,” Mr. Hovitz continues. “They kept saying that their regulations wouldn’t permit this kind of change to the street. But in a meeting on Thursday, they told us that their rules have been updated, and they are now willing to do this.” He added that the DOT will also lower the speed limit on South William Street to 15 miles per hour, from its current legal maximum of 20 miles per hour. “This is definitely a win,” he said.
Tricia Joyce and Paul Hovitz
Tricia Joyce, who chairs CB1’s Youth & Education Committee, and led the campaign for safety measures in front of Millennium High School in tandem with Mr. Hovtiz, adds, “we are relieved, as this was CB1’s original ask last year, which was turned down at the time. We then moved to asking for a flashing crosswalk. After conducting a study last fall, the DOT did not feel the street met the criteria for such a crosswalk. But fortunately, the new regulations, which make the speed hump possible, came into being concurrently.”
“We have asked that the hump be as close to the school entrance as possible, and have also requested a diagram, as well as a timeline from them,” Ms. Joyce continued. “We requested that it be done prior to March, when the weather starts to warm up and the students start crossing in larger numbers.”
This development comes just a week before the second anniversary of the January 17, 2017 incident in which a Millennium student who was exiting the school’s front door (which is located in the middle of the block) was run over by a taxi and thrown her to the ground, inflicting severe bruising, and causing multiple injuries to her mouth. The student, whose name is being withheld, was taken by ambulance took the student to New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital, where she was determined to be in stable condition, treated for bruising, and released.
One contributing cause to this accident may have been improper signage outside the school. At the time, the curb outside the front door of Millennium was correctly labeled a No Standing Zone. But another sign nearby, which is supposed to refer to an adjacent stretch of curb, has been turned at an odd angle. This sign lists commercial traffic parking hours, and seemed to imply (incorrectly) that commercial vehicles were permitted to park there. Although the signage anomaly was remedied soon after the January 17 incident, commercial vehicles have continued to park there habitually in the two years since. When CB1 leaders requested stepped up parking enforcement from the NYPD’s First Precinct, they were told that manpower shortages made this unfeasible.
As a result, trucks and delivery vehicles still regularly park in front of the school, which reduces the line of sight for both drivers (who are unable to see students entering or leaving the building) and students (who cannot see over or around the trucks and delivery vans parked in front of the school). This situation is worsened by the fact that South William Street curves sharply as it passes Millennium High School, further impairing visibility for both drivers and pedestrians.