By Noah Kazis
Delancey Street is one of the most dangerous roads in the city. Between 2008 and 2010 alone, 134 pedestrians and cyclists were hit by drivers on Delancey, according to Transportation Alternatives, and two were killed on the street this year.
Last week, Streetsblog reported on a new design for the base of the Williamsburg Bridge which routed cyclists off Delancey and onto calmer side streets. The implication, it seemed, was that the Department of Transportation wasn’t planning to make Delancey safer for cyclists and pedestrians, just less trafficked by them.
Elected officials on the Lower East Side, however, aren’t standing for the deadly status quo. On Monday, State Senator Daniel Squadron convened the first meeting of a new working group meant to improve safety in the area.
“For too long, Delancey has been the scene of far too many tragedies,” said Squadron in a statement. “Our working group is a much-needed step toward ending the cycle of danger. I’m confident that, together, we can find the short-term and long-term solutions to ensure a safe Delancey Street for all types of users.”
Joining Squadron were City Council Member Margaret Chin and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Board 3, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, and Transportation Alternatives. Staff from the Department of Transportation and the NYPD, which would have to implement any safety plan, were also in attendance.
The group will meet monthly to create a set of short-term and long-term changes to improve safety for all users of Delancey. “All solutions are still on the table,” said Squadron spokesperson Amy Spitalnick. In an e-mail, she listed a few possible solutions already being considered: “turning restrictions, stop lines, lengthening medians and crossing times, and a real solution for bikes (understanding that they’ll end up on Delancey no matter what).”
We’ll be reporting on the working group’s recommendations as they develop, but for now, it’s encouraging to see this broad and powerful coalition of elected officials and community leaders commit to a safe Delancey Street.