Motorists Fail to Stop at “6 ½ Avenue” Crosswalks at Alarming Rates

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A van rolls through the crosswalk at 54th Street and 6 1/2 Avenue. | Photo: Ben Rosenblatt

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.

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98 of 223 vehicles observed in a 30-minute period failed to stop at this crosswalk. | Photo: Ben Rosenblatt

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.

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11 comments to Motorists Fail to Stop at “6 ½ Avenue” Crosswalks at Alarming Rates

  • Leo Blackman

    Maybe MTR could actually encourage/shame the police into setting up an AUTO ticketing sting at that location?

  • R Troy

    Any chance NYPD will take the hint and fill some of their nonexistent quotas at this crosswalk? Just think – bosses could look good, and we might actually get some safety out of it – and raise some revenue.

  • Rob

    Thank you, TSTC, for doing this!

  • [...] Treating Stop Signs as Optional: Where’s the NYPD Sting? (MTR) [...]

  • Ace

    I have certainly experienced failure to yield while walking this delightful pedestrian route. One in particular was a car with Georgia plates who carried on like a demented idiot when I threw up both hands the classic “what the hell are you doing?” pedestrian to driver communication gesture.

  • Ivan

    I think you are being too dramatic. Just like cyclists who run red lights while no one is around say that what matters is the spirit of the law, all but 13 drivers here (about 5%) abided by the spirit of the law and yielded to pedestrians, or if they failed to stop, it was while there were no pedestrians around. Having to stop completely for 2-3 seconds in the middle of a block when there are no pedestrians around is frankly silly, even if that’s the law. And I say this as a pedestrian who frequently walks on 6 1/2th Ave. and doesn’t own a car! BTW, on the many times that I’ve walked along this “avenue” I’ve been pleasantly surprised that motorists do yield, much more so that at regular intersections IMHO.

  • Ed Tristram

    I have a few classic pedestrian-to-driver communication gestures I use too.

  • Bob

    I find it hard to believe this is a matter of drivers following the “spirit” of the law. I can assure you, peds are ALMOST ALWAYS around. And when I’m going through 6.5 Ave, I stop on my bike as well (it’s the law). Why should the cars do any different?

    As for failing to stop for peds… I found that holding my bike up in front of their windshield usually does the trick.

  • TOM

    Once upon a time there were people crossing there and traffic wizzing by but no STOP sign; now there are still people crossing there and traffic still wizzing by but with a STOP(traffic) sign. Did anybody ask the drivers what they wanted there? Maybe a YIELD sign instead? Has anyone been hurt, other than TSTC feelings? Has the City booked those anticipated revenues and not collected them? Any bikes been ticketed yet? That’s a sure indication that NYPD has taken notice.

  • Andrew J. Besold, LCI 2682

    I’m sorry but this location was a horrible intersection for TSTC to use to demonstrate driver behavior at a stop sign as the stop sign shouldn’t even be there! The stop sign is overly redundent and is only there to try and reinforce driver yeilding / stopping behavior at the crosswalk that drivers should AREADY be yeilding and stopping for pedestrains WITHOUT the stop sign. As most drivers can clearly see that there is no reason to stop, they don’t!

    What is telling however, ar the number of drivers that didn’t stop WITH pedestrians waiting to cross.

  • Max Power

    I agree with Andy B above-the stop sign is not a good solution to the safety issue. It’s an unusual installation in NYC, and if motorists find that the crosswalk is commonly empty, they learn that they can run the stop sign without issue. It’s the same reason cyclists often fail to stop at signs.

    Better treatments should be considered for these intersections. I’d begin with agressive enforcement of parking restrictions to “daylight” the crosswalk. A raised crosswalk or speed table would help slow motorists and remind them that they are entering a pedestrian space, so they are encouraged to look around. The stop signs can be replaced with Yield to Pedestrian signs.

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