Attempts to ‘Daylight’ Corners to Help Pedestrians Thwarted by Truck Drivers

By Alex Israel

An attempt by the city to improve pedestrian safety by removing parking spots at some street corners has been thwarted by truck drivers who park there illegally, residents said at a recent meeting of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee.

Local resident Julie Kowitz Margolies proposed at the meeting earlier this month that the city use curb extensions or physical barriers like concrete and planters to improve pedestrian safety.

Colleen Chattergoon, a representative from the city Department of Transportation (DOT), said the agency would welcome any input from the committee. But she warned that sometimes suggested solutions lead to new challenges. “The big issue is enforcement,” she said. “A planter [would be] great, but we’d need a maintenance partner.”

Case in point: DOT’s recent implementation of daylighting at 771 West End Avenue (97th Street), outside of Kowitz Margolies’ residence. ‘Daylighting’ involves removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around an intersection, which is supposed to increase visibility for both pedestrians and drivers.

Its intent is to minimize conflicts, but local residents said it has now created a place for trucks to park illegally—a claim supported by a handout (shown above) featuring photographs of various trucks in the spot. The intersection of 97th and West End is a dangerous spot — it’s where 9-year-old Cooper Stock was hit and killed by a taxi driver in 2013.

The conversation led to a resolution calling for DOT to put in a physical barrier to prevent idling at the corner. Chattergoon seemed optimistic, and suggested that a concrete block would be the most effective solution, assuming DOT had the available resources.

Other resolutions were also approved at the meeting. The committee requested ‘No Standing’ zones at several locations with handicap and accessibility concerns, including outside the Institute for Community Living at 46 West 74th Street (Columbus Avenue), and the Century Condominium building at 25 Central Park West, as well as outside the building’s south entrance at 62nd Street and north entrance at 63rd Street.

And the committee asked DOT to identify the ten most dangerous intersections in CB7’s district.

The resolutions, including the amended curbside use request, will be up for a vote during the full board meeting on December 3, 2019, 6:30 PM at Fordham University, 113 West 60th Street (Columbus Avenue).

NEWS | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Sid says:

      Is there anything in place that makes it clear that these areas to be clear of automobiles for the express purpose of daylighting? A sign, but perhaps a flexpost would be an inexpensive fix. That, and greater enforcement.

      • Ed says:

        In order of effectiveness:
        (1) Physical barriers
        (2) Enforcement
        (?) Signs

      • UWSider says:

        Signs and then a level of ticket which creates a real incentive to comply. Run a red light in this city and it costs $50 if you get caught which is a trivial chance so cars blow through the lights all the time. If it was a $500 or $1000 fine they would think twice. Running red lights kills people so make it a real expense.

        If a commercial truck got hit with a $500 or $1000 fine for parking illegally in a spot which endangers safety (with clear signage so they know they are doing it) then they would stop. So long as fines are low enough and enforcement rare enough that it is just a cost of doing business then laws will be broken.

    2. CCL says:

      The bike lane on CPW that was installed for “safety” and removed all car spaces is now chock full of tour buses and trucks. So. Guess what? Neither bikes nor pedestrians can see around them. More dangerous than ever. So. Unintended consequences galore. Be careful what you ask for.

      • Sid says:

        CPW has been chock-full of trucks and tour buses for decades. How is this related to the discussion of daylighting intersections?

        • CCL says:

          Now with no cars in that lane, trucks and buses are totally taking it over. That’s the difference in terms of safety.

          Not directly related to the intersection daylighting but another example of where cars are moved, the trucks move in.

      • Kevin says:

        All of these photos tell me that this block needs ~20 feet or more of loading zones at the end of the block. Instead of just daylighting the last 10 feet, would recommend adding a 20 foot loading zone (no standing, tow all vehicles including placarded vehicles) and pouring concrete in the daylighting area so that trucks can’t park there.

      • MikeDNYC says:

        CCL, excellent point!
        Bold initiatives like the one on CPW or the revised bike lanes in Riverside should be implemented on a trial basis.
        If they fail to improve matters …

      • AnDee says:

        As a cyclist who uses the CPW bikeline at the end of almost every working day, I can assure you that I feel far safer with the new path, even if I have to occasionally have to go around a bus or taxi that is picking up or dropping off passengers.

      • JakelikestoCitibike says:

        Legal enforcement against the tour buses (and shared ride drivers) in the CPW bike lane would be nice. Better than doing it ourselves which is minimally effective and pretty not safe. Calling 311 isn’t really a solution.

    3. Move It says:

      There’s a food truck whose operator regularly parks on the south side of W90 @ CPW, which greatly impedes vision of pedestrians crossing W90 headed north. This is especially a hardship for wheelchair users.

      It would seem simple enough for any passing police officer to direct the vendor to relocate the vehicle, ticket for repeat offenses, and even have a license removed if necessary.

      These junky food trucks are not just a blight on the neighborhood, but also a danger to pedestrians.

    4. Nina says:

      Oh, that’s my corner! The site of a terrible fatal accident. I also see that people turn left all the time going northbound on WEA onto 97th, completely ignoring the no left turn signs and the lack of a turn lane. The signs are poorly placed, however.

    5. UWSIder says:

      Thank you Julie M. The intersection at 97 and West End is much better in recent years and it is tragic that it took Cooper Stock to make the city fix it. But clearly more can be done.

    6. Josh P. says:

      Why can’t the DOT extend the sidewalk at these intersections? It would be safer, prevent illegal parking like this, and look nicer. According to this it would cost ~$15,000 per corner. Seems like a reasonable expense as far as our transportation infrastructure goes (a free on street parking spot is worth about $6,000 a year).

    7. CarolUWS says:

      One thing that bothers me is there is a Fresh Direct truck parked for hours at a time on the SE corner of 92nd and Amsterdam. and the truck is on, it is idling for hours at a time. I thought there was an idling law. Or there was years ago. I mentioned it to a traffic cop who was walking by and he looked at me clueless and kept going.

    8. DrM says:

      There need to be more incentives (or penalties) to keep more personal cars OUT of the city. Period. Trucks, like it or not, have to deliver. Especially in an ever advancing culture of order-it-online-and-get-it-tomorrow world. Cabs have to be here. But personal cars? No. This is a city of public transportation. Part (PART) of the reason the MTA hasn’t kept up properly with maintenance and technical advances is it hasn’t been worth it for the dwindling ridership. I once sat at the bar at ‘Cesca waiting to meet friends. Christmas week. Major gridlock alert time. I chatted with another patron doing the same. She lamented the horrible parking problem as her husband had been looking for parking for 45 minutes. She went on to say that it took her almost 30 minutes to find parking herself. Wait… You didn’t come with your husband? It turns out she, her husband and another couple had all come FROM THE SAME WESTCHESTER CO TOWN IN 4 SEPARATE CARS for dinner. This was also during the time that Bloomberg’s prpedestriansongestion pricing (now a reality – for CABS!!!) was laughed out of town, despite its tie to literally billions of government funds for MTA investment. Please, I beg of you, stop blaming trucks. Stop blaming cyclists (who are part of the solution, NOT the problem). Stop blaming pedestrians. Get the cars out. And yes, that means you car owners taking up parking spaces all week to go to your weekend houses. If you can afford a second home you can rent a car.

      • CCL says:

        I don’t get why car – haters love TRUCKS. Trucks are extremely noisy, idle all day and spew awful exhaust pollution. On our residential streets. Outside our windows. Even with windows closed the noise and exhaust are horrible.

        Cars don’t do that. If there are no cars in the spaces it will be all trucks all day all the time. Cars are quiet. They sit in their parking spots. What am I missing?

        • Sid says:

          Because trucks are necessity to deliver goods and food, among other things, and are usually only in the area during business hours. Cars on the other hand are not a necessity, and are similarly loud, dangerous, and used by less than a quarter of NYCers.

          • CCL says:

            I live and work in my home during so-called “business hours” when the noise and pollution is only from TRUCKS. More of them taking former quiet car spaces would very negatively impact the quality of life on residential streets.

            • SP says:

              A parked truck makes noise and pollution?

            • SP says:

              Also, residential streets have a no commercial traffic and parking regulation. So banning private cars wouldn’t mean that trucks would take their place.

            • CCL says:

              Seriously? The TRUCKS are not parked, they idle, grind demolition waste, load and unload all manner of banging things. They are never just quietly parked. Cars are quietly parked.

              The now quiet spaces with cars left empty will be filled with LOUD TRUCKS!

      • david Zelman says:

        In response to DrM.

        If we could do 3 things we’d reduce traffic, reduce injury, and collisions.

        1. Commercial vehicles
        Can’t park opposite another truck whereby 2 traffic lanes are blocked, and they can’t park on corners. They can’t double park if there is an opening close by. They can’t operate on streets marked passenger cars only. Ideally if commercial vehicles can only make deliveries within certain times.
        2. Resident parking:
        Since not all areas need resident parking don’t make it a resident parking area where it’s not needed. Resident parking means only vehicles registered in MYC can park in those designated areas. Maybe it should be only vehicles register in NYC and living in that particular neighborhood can apply for resident parking. To obtain a permit would require paying the city a reasonable fee to be determined by the area that resident parking serves. So resident parking is a renewable income stream. (don’t forget that the tax on parking in a parking lot is 18.25%). On alternate side of the street parking residents can double park the same holds true if there a movie shoot taking up all the other viable spots. When you double park you must leave a number where the driver can be reached and able to move the car with 10 minutes.

        Bus Lanes:

        Bus lanes MUST be clear of impediments, other than emergency work, preventing Bus’s to have a clear lane. A vehicle can stand in a bus lane to pick up or drop off a passenger but they must move if a bus is approaching.

        Of course there must be enforcement but remember that every time DOT wants to do something silly regarding traffic they always say that there will be enforcement. They’re always wrong.

    9. Pedestrian says:

      All sorts of trucks..fresh direct comes to mind, UBER drivers and similar have been snarling traffic and parking illegally for a very long time. This is just another example. Add to that the increasing use of food trucks and the rest it’s really dangerous out there for pedestrians and for the handicapped who need to use corner cuts. But no worries UBER and Fresh Direct are happy happy.. As to bike lanes they have added another exciting obstacle. Enforcement is the only thing that will change this and that would require punishing people who give large donations. I don’t see that happening.

    10. SP says:

      “a concrete block would be the most effective solution, assuming DOT had the available resources.”

      A few cubic feet of concrete shouldn’t be a problem even for our logistically challenged city to conjure up.

    11. CCL says:

      A no commercial traffic and parking reg on residential streets? Is that a joke? Have you lived on a residential street on the UWS?