On January 19, a new traffic law went into effect across New York City that Upper West Siders should be aware of.
There are over 1,200 intersections in the city that aren’t governed by pedestrian or traffic signals, and until two weeks ago drivers and cyclists were only required to yield to pedestrians at these crossings. Now, however, they are required to come to a full stop.
The new rule is part of a broader push that Mayor Adams announced to improve pedestrian safety throughout the city after an especially deadly 2021. Speaking about the city’s plan to reduce traffic fatalities, the mayor said, “After the tragedy of 2021, when traffic fatalities in New York City reached their highest level in nearly a decade, we clearly need to turbo-charge Vision Zero — and fast.”
Crashes at intersections make up 50 percent of fatalities and 70 percent of all injuries on New York’s streets, but pedestrians are at elevated danger; 55 percent of their fatalities and 79 percent of their injuries happen at intersections.
Upper West Siders will have noticed a steadily changing streetscape in their neighborhood recently, all part of the city’s efforts to calm traffic and make streets safer and more useful for everyone. These include, but aren’t limited to, car lane removal and narrowing, extended curbs for pedestrians, and pedestrian islands in medians and crosswalks. You can see all of these changes along Amsterdam Avenue between 59th and 72nd Streets, or along Central Park West and its ever-evolving bike lane.
While anyone can look up a map of Vision Zero-related projects throughout UWS via the city’s open data portal, Google Maps Street View shows exactly how much improvement has taken place. For example, a bike lane and several traffic calming measures have been introduced at the intersection of West 66th Street and Amsterdam; if you click on the clock icon in Street View’s upper-left corner, you can see the same intersection across time, and you’ll also see those measures disappear as soon as you jump back one snapshot.