How Long Does It Really Take to Cross Delancey Street?


Delancey Street has for a while now been acknowledged as one of New York City’s most dangerous intersections. A cyclist was killed at Delancey and Chrystie earlier this August, and there have been 523 motor vehicle accidents at the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets in the last 12 years. In a measure that seems an attempt to counter both the issue and public criticism of DOT’s seeming failure to make significant safety changes, the organization has just installed new countdown clocks, ostensibly to promote safety and avoid further accidents.

Clocks were installed earlier this week at every intersection between Kenmare and Clinton Streets, and a few intersections have clocks stations at all four corners, for added safety. Which means you’ll know when you’re running out of time. However, how much time does one need to cross that street in the first place — and should you have to wait in the median because, barring superhuman powers, there’s no way you can get all the way across in the time allotted?

As the Lo-Down points out, “There has been no change in the amount of time allotted for people to cross Delancey, one of the city’s widest streets. At Clinton Street, for example, the red hand begins flashing after seven seconds. The clock then begins counting down from 15 before the ‘red hand’ becomes solid and cars start moving again to and from the Williamsburg Bridge ramp.”

An email obtained by the Lo-Down from DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, sent in July of 2010, stated that the traffic signals provided “an adequate amount of time allocated for the pedestrian crossings”:

We provide a total of 37 seconds to cross Delancey Street, a distance of 98 feet, which equates to a walking speed of 2.65 feet per second… At the intersection of Delancey and Clinton Streets, we provide a total of 25 seconds to cross Delancey Street to the center island (a distance of 70 feet), which equates to a walking speed of 2.8 feet per second. We also provide a total of 65 seconds to cross Clinton Street (south leg) a distance of 42 feet, which equates to a walking speed of 0.6 feet per second and 18 seconds to cross Clinton (south leg), a distance of 28 feet, which equates to a walking speed of 1.6 feet per second. The crossing time is adequate even for slower paced pedestrians (the average walking speed is considered 3.5 feet per second). In order to obtain the full benefit of the crossing time provided, pedestrians should start crossing at the beginning of the “Walking Man” indication. A flashing “Head” indicates that there is insufficient time to complete the crossing. However, pedestrians already in the crossing will have sufficient time to proceed to the opposite sidewalk or median (where provided).”

But, if it’s nearly impossible for us able-bodied folks to cross the entire street on one light — and anecdotally, this is very true — what about the elderly people in the neighborhood? And, aside from being annoying, is it particularly safe, even, to be stuck in the median?

We’ve contacted the Department of Transportation for comment, and will update when we hear back.

Delancey Street Countdown Clocks, A Look at DOT Logic [The Lo-Down]