On Tuesday, New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) officials announced a new pilot program that allows bicyclists to follow pedestrian head-start signals at 50 intersections throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, AM New York reports. The signals at those intersections have a range of 7 to 11 seconds–known as leading pedestrian intervals (LPI)–before drivers can proceed through the intersections or make turns through crosswalks. Now bike riders can follow these pedestrian signals instead of traffic lights (legally, that is), giving cyclists the safety benefits of added visibility that pedestrians have at those intersections.
As part of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Vision Zero program DOT installed a record number of LPIs last year–832 to be exact– bringing the number to 2,547 installed throughout the city’s 13,000 intersections. LPIs are highly effective safety tools and are cost-effective to install. The pilot program that allows cyclists to follow LPIs is already in use in some cities, such as Washington, D.C., and bike-friendly cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen already use traffic signals that allow cyclists to maintain even speeds for miles without stopping, even adjusting for weather conditions. The designated intersection crossings will be marked with new signs that announce the rule change. Turning cyclists must still to yield to pedestrians.
According to Streetsblog, this pilot initiative, which will run through October of this year, along with 2016 legislation that allows cyclists to follow LPIs, grew from direct observations of cyclist behavior: Dozens of people on bikes use pedestrian signals to stay a safe distance ahead of drivers. 89 percent of accidents in which cyclists are killed or seriously injured happen at intersections. A 2016 DOT study showed a 56 percent drop in serious injury and fatal pedestrian and bicycle crashes at intersections with LPIs.
At a Boerum Hill news conference announcing the pilot, DOT senior director of bicycle and pedestrian programs Sean Quinn said “We have seen how LPIs save lives, playing a significant role in New York City’s historic 32 percent drop in pedestrian deaths last year. Cycling safety has also improved considerably, but there is still progress to be made. With this pilot, we hope to learn if LPIs can provide those same safety benefits to cyclists.”
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