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Transportation & Environment

Application by the New York City Department of Transportation to extend the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue between 34th and 42nd Streets to improve pedestrian safety and vehicular traffic flow

WHEREAS, The New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT") seeks to redesign the west side of 7th Avenue from 34th to 42nd Street to address pedestrian over-crowding on the sidewalk and improve safety in this area; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has previously identified the need for improvements to the area around Penn Station, including this specific area; and

WHEREAS, DOT has identified 7th Avenue as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor, after recording 138 pedestrian injuries including 12 severe injuries or fatalities, on the section of 7th Avenue between 34th and 42nd Streets; and

WHEREAS, Currently, 7th Avenue has four southbound travel lanes for the section between 30th and 4nd Streets, and narrows to three travel lanes north and south of this section; and

WHEREAS, DOT reports that this section of 7th Avenue currently has excess roadway capacity, serving between 880-1225 cars during the peak morning rush hour, and 1035-1420 cars during the peak evening rush hour, (equivalent to 2-3 lanes worth of traffic, based on a standard of 500-600 cars/lane/hour average capacity); and

WHEREAS, Currently the western most traffic lane is frequently unusable for vehicular traffic due to the large numbers of pedestrians overflowing the sidewalk near Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant's proposed street redesign would re-purpose the western most traffic lane from 34th to 42nd Street into a sidewalk extension, delineated by granite blocks, bollards and planters; and

WHEREAS, The three bus stops within this section of 7th Avenue would be consolidated to two, with new bus boarding islands installed at those locations to allow bus riders a safe and convenient area to wait for the bus, and to allow buses to avoid the need to weave in and out of the bus stop; and

WHEREAS, DOT has proposed adding Leading Pedestrian Intervals (7-second delayed turns) on several streets in this area (both for vehicles turning off of 7th Avenue and onto 7th Avenue) to improve pedestrian safety on the east side of 7th Avenue as well; and

WHEREAS, DOT has proposed adding curb extensions on the southeast corners of eastbound streets to shorten crossing distances for pedestrians to further improve pedestrian safety; and

WHEREAS, DOT has proposed slight modifications to the existing curbside regulations on 7th Avenue by adding a morning rush hour "No Standing" rule to mirror the existing evening rush hour rule, and by creating metered parking during the evening hours to reduce the potential for parked vehicles to slow traffic; and

WHEREAS, CB5 made several suggestions for monitoring the effects of the change that were accepted by the DOT (including maintaining accurate counts and traffic flow information during the implementation of the new design, and studying the potential for sidewalk expansion on the remaining portions of 7th Avenue with 4 travel lanes); therefore be it,

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the Department of Transportation's application to extend the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue between 34th and 42nd Streets to improve pedestrian safety and vehicular traffic flow; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges DOT to continue looking at ways to improve the pedestrian experience in the blocks immediately surrounding Penn Station, as well as other congested areas in Midtown (such as the theater district) to improve pedestrian safety and the efficient flow of traffic.

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