The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that installation of an innovative traffic-calming project is underway at Bowery between Canal Street and East Broadway in Chinatown that includes the construction of two landscaped medians and other significant enhancements to pedestrian and vehicular safety at one of Lower Manhattan’s most crowded and congested corridors. The project, located within a DOT Safe Streets for Seniors focus area and near two Safe Routes to Schools locations, also expands the sidewalk at Bowery and Division Street to reduce crossing distances and calm traffic, and improves street markings and roadway geometry to enhance safety and access to the Manhattan Bridge’s onramp from northbound Bowery. These improvements, developed with feedback from the community and in consultation with New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin, will bring shorter crosswalks and improved safety and mobility for everyone who uses the area. This traffic-calming project builds on the agency’s ongoing efforts to engineer safer streets in all five boroughs. In January, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that traffic fatalities in New York City fell to an all-time record low in 2009, with 256 traffic fatalities reported for the year, a 35 percent reduction compared to 2001. The decline comes as the City has instituted unprecedented safety improvements in street engineering and expanded NYPD enforcement of traffic laws citywide.
"We’re working hard to reduce injuries and fatalities on the streets of New York," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "The safety enhancements on Bowery and Canal will not only make them safer for everyone, but also improve the look and feel of the streets."
"This project is a great example of the New York City Department of Transportation acting on a grassroots effort that was generated by the community for the community," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "I commend Senator Squadron, Councilmember Chin, and community leaders for their efforts in advocating for a greener Chinatown while also tackling specific safety concerns for pedestrians."
"I am pleased to see one of the proposals in the nine-point plan for pedestrian safety that I created with State Sen. Squadron in January of 2009 getting implemented in Chinatown," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "This is an intersection where pedestrians and drivers battle it out daily. DOT has selected an ideal location to debut its new ‘traffic-calming’ project, and I look forward to the immediate management of congestion and enhancement of pedestrian safety it will provide."
"Chinatown is great for walking and is world-famous for its bustling street activity, but it’s also home to a lot of dangerous traffic," said New York State Senator Daniel Squadron. "This median is a simple, common-sense way to make Chinatown a little bit safer. I commend DOT for listening to the community, and thank Chinatown’s community leaders, who have worked so hard to push for this safety improvement."
"This is an important step in increasing pedestrian safety in Chinatown," said Councilmember Margaret Chin. "Especially with our senior populations here, these measures are more important than ever, and I thank the DOT for developing this project. I look forward to working with the DOT on other necessary safety projects, such as the Safe Routes to Schools zones in Lower Manhattan and further traffic-calming measures around the Manhattan Bridge."
"This plan is good for senior citizens who need to cross the street because it will calm traffic and make the road easier to cross," said Jack Eng, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. "The trees on the island will help beautify the road." "This project will improve the traffic flow and improve the safety of seniors crossing the street," said Justin Yu, President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York. "It will deter the tractor trailers and buses making illegal U-turns in the area. We are very happy that the DOT responded to requests from the community to implement such a good project."
"This is a promising first step towards what we hope to be a long-term commitment on the part of the DOT to improving traffic safety in the Manhattan Bridge area," said James Wong, President of the Lin Sing Association.
"Chinatown Partnership is delighted to see additional improvements being made for our community," said Wellington Chen, President of the Chinatown Partnership. "Not only will this initiative help to soften the harsh, busy roadway by adding additional trees and greenery, but it helps seniors to cross Bowery with confidence and with enhanced safety."
"Chinatown has some of the busiest pedestrian crosswalks in the city at levels similar to Times Square," said Christopher Kui, Executive Director, Asian Americans for Equality. "AAFE supports traffic-calming measures, especially ones that ensure the safety of our senior and schoolchildren pedestrians. We hope DOT will continue to make public safety improvements in Chinatown for the sake of local residents, businesses, tourists and all those who frequent the area."
"This project will provide significant and very necessary improvements in pedestrian and vehicular safety in the area that Chinatown residents have for years been concerned about," said Cao K. O, Executive Director, Asian American Federation of New York. "Chinatown will also benefit from an enhanced landscape as a result. We commend DOT for undertaking this important project with input from the community."
"These landscaped medians are well overdue," said Steven Tin, President of the Better Chinatown Society. "They provide a much needed safety area for the vast numbers of seniors and school children at this point. It also provides a nicer landscaped area for Chinatown."
The Bowery between Canal and East Broadway is a well-used corridor for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic and records a high number of vehicle crashes. From 2004 to 2008 there has been one pedestrian fatality and more than 150 crashes resulting in injuries on Bowery between Canal Street to East Broadway.
The newly constructed landscaped median, sidewalk expansion and new markings help create a safer environment for all street users, whether they are on foot, on a bike or in a vehicle. The project, located along a key thoroughfare within Chinatown’s busy commercial district, is home to a significant senior population. The median also will benefit students at P.S. 124 and P.S. 131 and other nearby schools that have been identified by DOT as priority safety schools. The green center median will provide a refuge for pedestrians who may get caught in the middle of the street, while also encouraging pedestrians not to cross the street midblock. Construction is scheduled for completion this summer.