An Upper East Side pol is pushing a new bill that aims to curb pedestrian deaths by brightening many of the Big Apple’s most dangerous intersections.
Councilwoman Julie Menin’s legislation, introduced Aug. 3, would require the Department of Transportation to install solar-powered LED crosswalks, stop signs and other traffic signs that illuminate at 500 or more heavily used pedestrian corridors citywide over the next five years.
“Illuminating crosswalks will have significant benefits to reduce pedestrian fatalities,” said the Democratic councilwoman who represents the Upper East Side and surrounding neighborhoods. “[Other] communities have embraced solar-powered crosswalks, and New York City must utilize this powerful tool.”
Menin wants to rip a page out of traffic-safety plans being used in other cities across the country — including Orlando, and San Francisco.
Like these cities, she wants DOT to install crosswalks that are weight-activated and light up when pedestrians walk on them, or illuminate by them pushing a button before they cross the street.
She also wants traffic signs at these corridors to flash intermittent lights to boost pedestrians’ visibility and alert distracted drivers to come to a complete stop.
The legislation would also mandate DOT study the efficacy of these devices in comparison to intersections without the solar-powered reflectors once they are in place.
Menin’s office couldn’t immediately provide cost estimates to fund such a project, but her bill is already gaining steam.
A dozen other council members agreed to back it within a week after it’s introduction.
In 2019, former Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Queens) introduced legislation seeking a feasibility study to determine whether installing solar-powered reflectors at crosswalks made sense, but it died during the pandemic.
Vallone’s bill was spurred by the death of 17-year-old Madeline Sershen, who was killed by an 88-year-old driver who reportedly said she didn’t see Sershen at a Whitestone crosswalk.
There were 121 pedestrian deaths in the Big Apple last year, a 4.7%, decrease from 2021, according to city records.
The DOT said it plans to review Menin’s bill.
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