Tokyo has long had an ingenious intersection plan: traffic stops in all directions for a few minutes to keep pedestrians safe from right- and left-turning vehicles. The concept, which has now been adopted worldwide, has been shown to significantly reduce the number of fatalities in areas with high pedestrian and vehicular volume. Now, the plan is coming to three intersections in NoMad.
Although long used in Japan, the idea is the product of good-old American know how. Henry Barnes, used this crosswalk plan from 1947 to 1953 in Denver. Reportedly, people were so happy with the crosswalks that they danced in the streets. Hence, the eponymous “Barnes Dance” (also called the “pedestrian scramble”). Barnes implemented the plan in NYC when he was traffic commissioner here in the 1960s, but unfortunately under Robert Moses, who gave precedence to vehicular traffic, the plan was disbanded.
That changed this week, thanks to a unanimous vote of the NYC City Council, which ordered the DOT to study the feasibility of Barnes Dance crosswalks in 25 high-crash intersections across the city. The bill is a big step in supporting the city’s Vision Zero policy intended to drastically curb pedestrian injury and fatalities. 6sqft noted: “ABC7 reports that 25 percent of pedestrian deaths are caused by drivers making a turn. But a 2012 report from City College found that in places where Barnes Dance signals were present, pedestrian crashes fell by 50%.”
Look for the three proposed intersections in NoMad: 23rd Street where it intersects Sixth Avenue, Park Avenue South and Lexington Avenue, and see what you think.
A findings report from the DOT evaluation will be issued to the mayor’s office and city council by August 1, so we may see these intersections changing soon.