The City Council unanimously voted to support a bill that helps protect us when we cross the street.
Pedestrians signals on traffic lights help direct foot traffic in coordination with cars and cyclists. Legally pedestrians have the right-of-way when they are obeying the “walk” signal. However section 4-03 was never updated when count down timers were introduced so pedestrians were in legal limbo once the clock starts. This is especially dangerous at intersections where the countdown clock cycle is longer then the walk cycle. Unfortunately our elderly population and other limited mobility groups are most at risk since they need the most time to cross.
In November 2015 Public Advocate Letitia James proposed a fix to this oversight. With the support of the DoT and the NYPD the idea was brought up to the City Council who recently approved it. The Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, Ydanis Rodriguez, said that this bill helps “solidify the notion that people come first on our streets.” It is expected to be signed by Mayor de Blasio.
In reference to the new legislation, AARP New York State President Leo Asen said:
Pedestrian safety is critical to any age-friendly community, and AARP fully supports updating our laws to better protect pedestrians in the rights-of-way between them and drivers…We thank Public Advocate Tish James for this critical, common-sense update to make our roadways safer for everyone.
Not all of the 12,460 intersections with traffic signals citywide (as of June 30, 2011) will be affected by this change, but every one with a pedestrian crossing will.