After years of consistently being named the most deadly road for pedestrians in the region, Hempstead Turnpike has finally been getting the treatment it deserves from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Last year, NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald announced both short and long-term solutions to make the lethal roadway safer for all users, and implementation of some safety measures began in September. And while there have been some Sandy-related delays, many of the safety improvements are close to implementation, including:
- installation of raised medians at eight locations
- relocation of six NICE bus stops closer to crosswalks
- addition of five new crosswalks and
- altering traffic signals to calm traffic
While the DOT deserves applause for addressing pedestrian safety along the 16 mile corridor, one idea that should go back to the drawing board is the installation of fencing along a 1000-foot median near the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. NYSDOT claims the measure is necessary to prevent so-called “jaywalking” by making the fenced section impossible to cross.
But fencing doesn’t just limit pedestrian access, it also reinforces the notion that the road is too deadly to cross. A smarter way to address pedestrian safety for this stretch of Hempstead Turnpike would be to implement raised landscaped medians instead of fencing, and install additional mid-block crossings in areas with particularly long distances between signalized intersections. Doing so will not only help calm traffic and increase safety for all users of the road, but enhance pedestrian mobility as opposed to limiting it.