New Concrete Barriers Should Help Improve NYC Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety
Shortly after a man drove his car onto a sidewalk back in May of 2017, killing a tourist and injuring at least 22 others, at least one local lawmaker proposed new legislation for protective sidewalk barriers to be installed to better protect everyone. Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez once again spoke out after the Barcelona, Spain sidewalk terrorist attack, saying his bill would require installing numerous barriers in high-volume areas.
Unfortunately, it was not until after the October 31, 2017 New York City attack was waged by a violent man who drove a rental truck for a mile down a NYC bikeway that the installation of the new barriers began in earnest. The driver managed to kill eight people and injure 12 others.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesman says that the barriers are now being placed at both pedestrian and vehicle intersections near the West Side Highway between 59th Street and Battery Park.
Additional Facts Concerning the Concrete Barriers That Should Increase Safety
- The NY State Department of Transportation (DOT) is planning to place six concrete jersey barriers at each of the 31 “vehicle access” intersections;
- At each of the 26 pedestrian access intersections, the NYC DOT will install two large concrete squares or cubes;
- Vehicles will still be able to access the Hudson River area athletic fields, parking lots and offices – but they will be blocked from driving on any area bike paths;
- Although many of the barriers currently being installed are made of concrete, they will likely be later replaced by steel bollards;
All these counterterrorism and safety measures are being coordinated between various city and state agencies, including the NYC police department.
Additional, New Safety Measures Are Still Being Put Forth
On Wednesday, November 1st, U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposed a new bill entitled the Stopping Threats on Pedestrians Act (or STOP Act). If passed, this legislation would provide a new U. S. Department of Transportation grant program to help states install more traffic barriers. The senator stated that this type of legislation is critical since ISIS keeps inspiring terrorists to use vehicles as weapons of mass destruction. The bill would provide $50 million for the installation of barriers over the next decade.
Those applying for one of these grants will need to provide a thorough description of their proposed barrier installation project, the types of current safety risks present in the targeted areas (based on possible terrorist attacks) — and some type of initial analysis of how the proposed barriers will reduce the currently perceived safety risks. The proposed legislation also states that all grant money awarded must be used in areas where large numbers of pedestrians are frequently found.
Ongoing Concerns Regarding the New Barriers
Some citizens and local officials are still concerned about the added difficulties that some pedestrians and cyclists are experiencing while traveling on or near the city’s bike paths and other high-volume areas. Still others are still complaining about the barriers added by the NYC police department around the Flatiron Plaza back in July, before the late October terrorist attack. (A few blocks north of that plaza, around Herald Square, concrete blocks and metal fencing have also been recently used to try and increase safety.)
However, there appears to be a consensus forming among many that the decreased areas of access and diminished speed required near the barriers are well worth the added safety.
Many who remember the nation’s frenzied response to the Oklahoma City bombings back in 1995 are aware that shortly thereafter, many state and federal buildings that had previously been without any types of concrete or steel bollards began installing them right away. Initial complaints about those installations soon greatly diminished.