New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner (MOPD) Matthew Sapolin and other elected officials today announced plans to install audible pedestrian signals at 25 intersections to make streets easier to cross for all pedestrians, particularly the visually impaired and seniors. Also known as Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS), these audible devices already are fixed to pedestrian signal poles at 21 intersections citywide, emitting a distinct clicking sound to alert sight-impaired pedestrians when the “walk” phase is available at a given intersection. This initiative complements DOT’s ongoing work with disabled communities, including Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets (PASS), a coalition of groups advocating for people who are visually impaired. Commissioner Sadik-Khan, Speaker Quinn and Commissioner Sapolin were joined by City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, City Council Aging Committee Chair Jessica Lappin, City Council Governmental Operations Committee Chair Gale Brewer, Dr. Karen Gourgey of Baruch College, PASS members and representatives from AARP for the announcement at 7th Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan, the site of the city’s newest set of APSs and part of a recent traffic-calming project in this busy commercial area with high pedestrian volumes and transit stops.
“Audible signals are literally sound investments that will help improve the safety and quality of life for the most vulnerable New Yorkers who use our streets,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Whether it’s installing countdown signals or shortening crossing distances, we're committed to engineering streets to make them even safer.”
“The installation of additional Accessible Pedestrian Signals across the city will improve quality of life for New Yorkers by making it safer for the visually impaired, and for all people, to cross the street," said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "The new APS signals, along with the shortened crossing distance and additional traffic upgrades in one of Chelsea's most dangerous intersections, are upgrades that are good for people of all ages, and will make our great city even greater.”
“We have been working very closely with the Department of Transportation and disability advocates for many months on the APS rollout program, and I could not be more pleased about the accessibility features that have been integrated at this vital intersection,” said Commissioner Sapolin. “We will continue to work closely with Commissioner Sadik-Khan and her team, as well as disability advocates, to ensure that APS units are consistently and continuously enabled, making it safer and easier for all citizens to traverse our great city.”
“My dad was blind, so I know firsthand the challenges that visually impaired people face every single day,” said Council Member Vacca. “Crossing the street can be dangerous with speeding cars, noisy crowded intersections, and new street designs, but accessible pedestrian signals can make a life-saving difference. These 25 new APS installations are a great first step in what must be an ongoing commitment to improving the safety of pedestrians with visual impairments in all 5 boroughs.”
“Today, we’re reclaiming one more intersection for pedestrians,” said Council Member Lappin. “This is a city that walks and these signals make our streets safer for everyone.”
“These signals will make the streets much safer for our neighbors and visitors who are vision-impaired,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. Their installation is a tribute to the strong advocacy of the Jewish Guild for the Blind, Lighthouse International, VISIONS, and PASS. Today's announcement marks the doubling of APS equipped intersections throughout all five boroughs, but as a City we still lag behind in providing for the vision-impaired. We must increase our efforts, and commit New York to greater access, safety, and independence for all.”
“PASS is delighted to have worked with DOT on this project and looks forward to our continuing cooperation to meet the needs of the vision loss community," said Dr. Karen Gourgey of Baruch College and Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets (PASS).
“Age friendly New York City focuses on keeping the resources and opportunities of the city available to us all as we age. Each intersection that is made safer for older adults opens up more of the city,” said Ruth Finkelstein, Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at The New York Academy of Medicine. “The New York Academy of Medicine congratulates the New York City Council and the New York City Department of Transportation for adding the 7th Ave. and 23rd St. intersection to the growing list of safe streets.”
The intersection at 7th Avenue and West 23rd Street was ranked in 2007 as a high pedestrian crash location citywide. An analysis of crash data from 2005 to 2009 shows that the intersection had more pedestrians killed and seriously injured than 97% of all intersections in Manhattan. During that same period, there were 21 pedestrians injured and one fatality. As part of its Safe Streets for Seniors program, DOT initiated a safety redesign that reduced crossing distances and created dedicated turning lanes and other adjustments to clarify traffic movements and reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts.
DOT already approved an additional 12 of the 25 locations expected to receive APSs in the next 12 months. These 12 installations are expected to occur by the end of 2011. The process for approving and installing APS technology begins with a study of a requested location where DOT examines off-peak traffic presence, the current traffic-signal patterns and the complexity of the intersection’s geometry.
To function, APSs are wired to a pedestrian signal and can send audible messages for when it is safe to cross when they push a button installed at the crosswalk. (The button also emits a clicking sound so it can be found by pedestrians.)
More information about APSs and many other DOT safety initiatives can be found at nyc.gov/dot.
The next locations to receive APSs include:
- East 25th Street (between 3rd and Lexington Avenues)
- 7th Avenue and West 32nd Street
- Queens and Woodhaven Boulevards
- 57th Avenue and Marathon Parkway
- Morris Park Avenue pedestrian crossing @ Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Adams Street Pedestrian Crossing, midblock between Fulton and Johnson Streets
- Nevins and Fulton Streets at Flatbush Avenue
- Adams Street/Boerum Place and Livingston Streets
- Adams Street and Atlantic Avenue
- Bedford Avenue (between Avenue I and Campus Road)
- Court and Montague Street/Cadman Plaza West
- Adams and Fulton Streets
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