Zeroing In

See the shovel-ready Vision Zero projects changing NYC streets this year

City Terrain East News
See the shovel-ready Vision Zero projects changing NYC streets this year. (Courtesy NYC DOT)
See the shovel-ready Vision Zero projects changing NYC streets this year. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a slate of shovel-ready or in-progress projects meant to move the city ever closer to its Vision Zero goals.

The program, designed to dramatically reduce traffic fatalities through speed limit reductions and streetscape improvements, is now in its fourth year. So what is getting done?

According to the Mayor’s office, the city is breaking ground on wider sidewalks, more protected bike lanes, new crosswalks, and medians on busy roadways large enough for pedestrians to take refuge. The improvements, part of a five-year, $1.6 billion initiative, will target dozens of projects in the five boroughs.

“Dangerous streets have to change,” said Mayor de Blasio, in a prepared statement.  “We want to get the word out: we’re moving lanes, adding new space for pedestrians and making it safer to cross intersections—all to keep your family safe. These changes have helped make each of the last three years under Vision Zero safer than the last.”

The city says existing Vision Zero improvements have lead to eight fewer lives lost in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year. Still, New York has a way to go towards zero fatalities—40 people have died in traffic-related incidents so far this year

Here are a few highlights from the improvements planned so far for this year:

(Courtesy NYC DOT)

The Vision Zero streetscape improvements planned for 2017. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

In Brooklyn, along Borinquen Place, South 4th, and South 5th streets, this summer city will enhance pedestrian and bike access to the Williamsburg Bridge in advance of the 15-month L train shutdown.

The Brooklyn Bridge, meanwhile, is a commuter cyclist’s special hell. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is widening pedestrian-bike entrances at Tillary Street to allow seamless coexistence between selfie-snapping, Citibiking tourists and New Yorkers who are just trying to go somewhere. Plans will add 50 trees and better crosswalks; improvements are underway and are expected to be complete this summer. (President Trump‘s proposed budget cuts, however, could jeopardize funding for this project.)

On the Manhattan side, a “sister project” to the one on Tillary Street will improve bike and pedestrian access, while riders will enjoy a two-way protected bike lane in front of City Hall by this spring.

By this summer, cyclists and walkers in Mott Haven will have easier access to the Madison Avenue Bridge, the slice of roadway that connects 138th Street in the Bronx to Manhattan. Over in Queens, two new Select Bus Service routes and safety improvements to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards build on similar efforts to boost the pedestrian experience along Queens Boulevard.

In notoriously car-dependent Staten Island, the city will add five miles of bicycle lanes to connect the North Shore neighborhoods of Tompkinsville, Stapleton, Concord and Park Hill. For residents and visitors, bike connections to the ferry terminal in St. George are coming online this summer.

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