There’s been a lot of media coverage lately about Delancey Street, one of the city’s most dangerous thoroughfares. A series of fatal accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, plus a controversial new barricade going up around the Williamsburg Bridge have focused much-needed attention on a persistent safety problem.
Yesterday, State Senator Daniel Squadron got various “stakeholders” together to discuss the situation. Included at the meeting: representatives from the Department of Transportation, the NYPD, Community Board 3, the LES Business Improvement District, the offices of other local elected officials and Transportation Alternatives, the bike/pedestrian advocacy organization.
In a telephone conversation last night, Squadron said he was very pleased with the results of the meeting. He said everyone had an opportunity to get their points of view across. The participants agreed to set up a “working group” to continue the dialogue about Delancey Street.
On more than one occasion in the past year, Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and City Councilmember Margaret Chin have urged the DOT to address the Delancey dangers. The DOT has pointed to modest safety improvements, such as the countdown clocks recently installed. But the department has resisted additional measures (such as adding a dedicated bike lane and/or narrowing the street).
The new “working group” will meet for the first time next month.
Here are excerpts from a news release put out by Squadron’s office a short time ago:
“For too long, Delancey has been the scene of far too many tragedies,” said Senator Squadron. “Our working group is a much-needed step toward ending the cycle of danger. I’m confident that, together, we can find the short-term and long-term solutions to ensure a safe Delancey Street for all types of users.”
“I am confident that by working together city agencies, concerned elected officials, experts and community members will institute effective and creative ways to increase safety on the Delancey corridor,” said Council member Chin. “The number of fatalities this year alone demand action. It time to make Delancey safe for everyone who uses it.”
“By bringing the community together, we can develop solutions that improve traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety in the Lower East Side,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
“It is essential that we do everything possible to make sure we have the most effective safety measures in place to address the problems we have seen on Delancey Street,” said Speaker Silver. “I am encouraged that we now have key stakeholders at the table and I am hopeful that, with the full participation of the community, we can develop some solutions that will increase protections for pedestrians, cyclists and all other users of this important thoroughfare.”
“Last month’s tragic death of cyclist Jeffrey Axelrod was the latest painful reminder of the dangerous conditions that plague Delancey Street on the Lower East Side,” said Borough President (Scott) Stringer. “For years I have called on the City to improve safety at this location, and this working group is a much needed a step in the right direction. I am committed to working with the NYC Department of Transportation, my colleagues in government, Community Board 3 and safety advocates to identify mitigations that will make Delancey Street safer for all users: pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.”
“While the last four years have been the safest in City history, we’re always working to make our streets even safer,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “We recently installed countdown signals along Delancey Street to help pedestrians cross and a safety redesign is now under way at the pedestrian and bike entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge. We continue to look for ways to build on the many enhancements we’ve made throughout the corridor and to working with elected leaders and other stakeholders to cut the number of traffic fatalities citywide in half by 2030.”
“Community Board 3 is very excited about working with the Delancey Street Working Group to make Delancey safer for everyone,” said David Crane, chair of the Community Board 3 Transportation Committee. “The Community Board has been grappling with this issue for years and has included it as a major problem in the current District Needs Statement. Senator Squadron has brought together agencies, advocates, and elected officials who are all very open to collaborating for the best resolution.”
“It’s about time everyone came together to finally put an end to the dangers on Delancey,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Delancey Street is one of the most hazardous streets in the city–this is an important first step in making Delancey safe for foot and bicycle traffic. We understand this is a complex corridor that needs to be carefully studied but there are quick solutions that could be implemented to start saving lives now while a more permanent fix is planned. We’re eager to discuss making these solutions a reality in this working group.”
“The LES BID is excited to participate in this important dialogue with our great partners in government regarding the Delancey Street corridor,” said Tim Laughlin, Director of Policy, Planning and Operations for the Lower East Side Business Improvement District. “We look forward to working with our elected officials to implement financially feasible safety improvements that will complement and enhance projects the BID is currently leading the way on, such as our plan to extend the Delancey pedestrian medians at both Essex and Orchard Streets.”
The DOT’s blatant disregard for the community suggests that Robert Moses has won. Just slap up the I-78 signs along the corridor and it wouldn’t be a far cry from the Lower Manhattan Expressway plan of yesteryear. The fact that they issued a statement telling residents crossing Delancey on Clinton that they should cross to the median and wait for the next cycle is evidence that nobody is listening.
Stop politicizing the issue and get something done. Build a pedestrian footbridge or reroute the vehicular traffic underground for a few blocks so the people can cross the street without getting killed or have a heart attack in the process of crossing before getting hit by a car accelerating to the bridge.
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