With the recent maiming of British tourist Sian Green by out-of-control cab driver Mohammad Himon – just one of the more brazen instances in which drivers flout their legal obligation to stay off New York City sidewalks – TSTC decided to monitor driver behavior at a now year-old mid-block crosswalk within Manhattan’s Midtown North police precinct, only blocks away from the site of last month’s crash.
TSTC observed a stop-sign controlled crosswalk along 6 ½ Avenue, a pedestrian corridor between 6th and 7th Avenues that connects several privately-owned public spaces through office buildings from 51st to 57th Streets. The city installed stop signs and crosswalks on each of the cross streets along this “Avenue,” which provides an enhanced pedestrian experience and alternative route to the crowded sidewalks of 6th and 7th Avenues.
Drivers have certainly had enough time to ready themselves for the stop signs at mid-block, with the changes already over one year old and the learning curve long conquered. The signs themselves, incidentally, are almost impossible to miss, and the crosswalks are freshly painted and not obscured by other items that could be found at a typical intersection.
TSTC tracked all vehicles travelling eastbound on 54th Street on Tuesday, September 10, from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m., and found the following:
|Vehicle Count – Total||Vehicles Failing to Stop*||Vehicles Failing to Yield to Pedestrians|
|223||98 [44% of vehicles]||13|
In only 30 minutes, 98 vehicles blatantly violated the law, and some did so while putting pedestrians at risk. Casual observation shows this behavior is not limited to 54th Street; all other mid-block crosswalks are being similarly disregarded by motorists (most of whom are fruitlessly overeager to hit the next red light at 6th or 7th Avenues, anyway – a vehicle travelling crosstown cannot possibly benefit from green lights at both 6th and 7th Avenues, stop sign or not).
Blowing through a stop sign is a moving violation that is hardly being enforced by the NYPD. The Midtown North precinct issued only 73 tickets for “disobey(ing) sign(s)” in the entire month of August, while the number of law-breaking motorists observed at one crosswalk in a half hour exceeded this total. Instead, the NYPD has focused intently on setting up ticketing stings on cyclists.
These misplaced priorities perfectly illustrate the disconnect between the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYPD. The next mayor must correct NYPD’s misallocation of resources in order to further reduce preventable injuries to innocent pedestrians like Sian Green.
*Only a small handful of vehicles actually came to a full stop for 2-3 seconds as is required by law. The vehicles classified here as failing to stop were deemed to have made little or no effort whatsoever to stop.