Anyone who crosses Delancey Street at Clinton on a regular basis knows it’s one of the most treacherous intersections in the neighborhood. Several factors combine to heighten the danger, including: an absurdly short “walk” signal, a heavy volume of cars and trucks racing on and off the bridge and a growing number of bikes accessing the bridge ramp.
In the months ahead, there are going to be a few changes here. It remains to be seen what impact they’ll have on pedestrian safety.
First off, the city is in the process of building a permanent barricade, narrowing the bridge entrance. Earlier this week, during the 7th Precinct Community Council meeting, Captain David Miller said the idea is to make it harder for cars to drive onto the bike/pedestrian portion of the bridge. The construction, funded through federal anti-terrorism allocations, should be finished by the end of the year. The Williamsburg-side of the bridge is being altered in a similar way.
Meanwhile, the precinct and Community Board 3 have been talking with the city’s Department of Transportation about other issues. According to Susan Stetzer, CB3’s district manager, the NYPD is increasingly concerned about “an unsafe environment for pedestrians” caused by bicyclists riding too fast coming off of the bridge. At the same time, there have been complaints about trucks parking in the bike lane on Clinton Street for extended periods of time. It’s been a persistent problem for bicyclists turning off of Delancey and heading north on Clinton.
CB3 has asked DOT to install signs making it clear that Clinton is not a commercial route and that only trucks making local deliveries are allowed. Captain Miller led DOT officials on a “site survey” last Friday. In response to our inquiries, DOT spokesman Monty Dean said yesterday:
DOT has already begun installing additional bike signage at the Williamsburg Bridge path entrance/exit in Manhattan and will also finish installing bike rumble strips there before the end of July. (The police department) requested additional signage for vehicle traffic approaching Clinton Street from the bridge and from westbound Delancey Street, and we are looking into those requests. There are no plans at this time to make changes to the roadway width.
Delancey Street is 250 feet across in some spots, making it one of the widest streets in Manhattan. The pedestrian signal at Clinton is green (and flashing red) for about 20 seconds, meaning not even the fittest people can make it across before cars and trucks come barreling towards them.
The NYPD suggested to the Transportation Department that it study the feasibility of making Delancey narrower. That’s apparently not in the cards, as you can see from the above statement.
In March, DOT told us it would install countdown clocks at several Delancey Street crossings, including Clinton, by the end of the year. No word when we can expect that installation to occur.