I barely notice the weekly hit-and-run accidents at the intersection of Liberty and St. Paul’s Avenues anymore. Always the same point of impact, always the same victim. The only variety in the routine is where the body ends up: Did the impact send it flying onto someone’s front lawn? Did it land on the stinky, steamy sewer grate?
Again, I refer to the pedestrian crosswalk sign that spends the least amount of time in its designated spot: the center of the crosswalk hatches painted across St. Paul’s Avenue. Friends who do not live in my neighborhood have suggested I complain to the Division of Engineering, Traffic and Transportation. Lot of good that does. The crosshatches were painted and the sign placed because residents complained, and the complaints became especially urgent after a fatal hit-and-run in 2012 at that location.
The safety “improvements” are not laughable, but they are a joke. However, some areas get nothing at all. One example: My parents live in a building for residents aged 55 and over. It takes up an entire block bordered on the east by a main route into the Holland Tunnel, and on the west by a road trafficked heavily by delivery vans and caffeinated commuters rushing downtown or to the tunnel. Every intersection is perilous, but the riskiest is the one that has two stop signs and requires alternate yields. This is the intersection where drivers reliably yield to nothing and no one: not the stop signs, the crossing guard, the school children who attend the neighborhood’s two schools, the day care customers with strollers, the elderly with limited mobility.
Residents of the area and my parents’ building requested more effective methods of traffic control, such as a traffic light. The initial response was that the intersection would be observed and evaluated to determine need. The determination after a few months: the stop signs were adequate to ensure safe crossing at an intersection of non-main streets.
Perhaps my neighbors and I should feel lucky that we got something — even though the “improvements” seem to have done nothing.
The crosswalk sign gets no respect: it gets hit, run over, dented, twisted, sent flying. Poor thing deserves the dignity of a proper name if I am to write about it so much.
So… name the crosswalk sign. Post your suggestions in the “Comments” section.
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