October 5, 2017

Safety First at Thruway Entrance

Thruway ramps' layout means people drive over big slice of crosswalk, too fast

The Thruway Authority will widen Broadway (Route 9) between Route 119 and the DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown to add another left turn lane for people driving to the entrance of eastbound I-287. The project will also add a "Side Path" next to the west side of Broadway for people walking and biking.

The public comment period closed on October 18, 2017 for this project's preliminary design. We'll keep you posted as things develop.

TL;DR

Don't have time to read this whole thing? Here's a summary of the most important points:

Below is our full feedback. Numbered items were communicated via earlier emails. Text here has been edited for clarity. Some items have been removed because they're no longer relevant.

Crossing the Ramps

2) Walking across the Thruway on/off ramps at the Honda dealership is horribly dangerous and unpleasant now. The draft proposal would make the situation even worse.

The north east corner would have a very wide curve (60' radius) which would lengthen to 100 feet a crossing that's already too long. This, at an intersection that sees tremendous numbers of turning cars during all signal phases.

A refuge island between the on and off ramps is absolutely necessary. Plus, at the northeast corner:

a) the 60' radius corner needs to be scaled back to more like a 30' radius, and/or

b) there needs to be a refuge between the off ramp's right turn lane and the straight/left turn lanes.

Crossing Broadway at the Ramps

3) The crosswalk across Route 9 between the DoubleTree and northeast corner would be 75' long! Adding a refuge here under the proposed lane configurations isn't really doable. So see #4 about signalization.

Smart Crosswalk Signals at the Ramps

4) The crosswalks mentioned in 2 and 3, above, likely see low volumes of people walking, so the small number of pedestrian phases that will actually be requested can be extra long and have no turning cars during walk signals by using either a "exclusive pedestrian" or "split" phasing without impacting overall vehicle throughput. And the number of people crossing here can be significantly reduced by implementing comment #16, below.

Install sensors to hold the walk signal until the people walking have cleared the intersection. This is crucial for the safety of slower walkers. These could even be configured to allow vehicles to start moving through the half of the intersection that the person has finished crossing, at least on the crosswalk on the east side if refuges are present.

5) A continuation of #4... This intersection sees a lot of right turns on red (from northbound Broadway to the Thruway and from the Thruway to northbound Broadway). Given the widths and lousy driver behavior, when people walking are present right on reds need to be prohibited.

Maybe a flashing red at most times. When a full stop is needed, the signal goes yellow then solid red? This would work particularly well if there's a refuge between the straight and right turn lanes, as discussed in #2b.

Vassar St, Cambridge, MA

Safe Driveways & Side Streets

7) South of the Thruway, all driveways and streets need signs for drivers heading toward Broadway that say something like "Do Not Block Sidewalk" to reduce obstructions by people waiting to make right turns.

8) Prohibit rights on red into and out of the DoubleTree since there will be significant volumes of people walking and biking on the side path there.

9) Driveway 3 (at the JCC) is around 30' wide. That needs to be narrowed. Similarly with Driveway 7 (the new Honda dealer property) and Driveway 2 (Mavis).

10) The JCC's exit should be right turn only onto Broadway. This will minimize exit times, thus the time cars spend blocking people using the side path.

11) The southbound right hand lane of Route 9 should be right turn only. NYC DOT has successfully used this strategy to eliminate "back pressure," so drivers can concentrate on yielding to people walking and biking. This right turn only lane will further reduce driveway exit times mentioned in #10 by providing a lightly used lane for drivers to exit into.

12) Signage is needed on southbound Broadway for right turning drivers to warn them to watch for people on the side path.

14) [New, expanded version of comment 6] The side path and sidewalks on both sides of Broadway should continue at the same grade and material across all driveways and side streets to slow turning movements from Broadway.

Path Width

The Side Path will be heavily used due to it's connection with the Tappan Zee Bridge's "Shared Use Path." It also includes a downhill stretch where southbound cyclists can pick up speed. Federal guidelines call for the Side Path must be 12 to 14 feet wide for the entire length. The current proposal is only 10 feet wide.

Adding insult to injury, the side path essentially ends 200' short of the DoubleTree driveway, narrowing down to only 8 feet wide. In a location with a bus stop. This pretty much negates the Side Path's usability.

The Thruway Authority has overcome tremendous obstacles to build the Tappan Zee Bridge's replacement. The team clearly has the knowledge and tools to figure out how to build 200' of path through or around the DoubleTree's stone signage wall.

18) [New: Oct 5, 2017] One possibility for the last 200' feet is going behind the wall. If space there is constrained, people walking and biking can be separated. The bike path can go behind the wall and the sidewalk would stay in front. There are ways to safely engineer the the bike path / DoubleTree driveway intersection.

Little Falls Pkwy at the Capital Crescent Trail, Montgomery County, MD

Add Crosswalk at Walter St

16) [New] Creating a safe crosswalk at Walter St is a win-win. People walking from the Pennybridge neighborhood can avoid the enormous, dangerous crosswalks at the Thruway ramps. And people driving through the Thruway ramp intersection won't be delayed by as many people crossing.

Broadway is one lane in each direction a few feet south of Walter St. The one lane treatment should continue to Walter St. Then add bulbouts and a refuge on the south side of the intersection so people only have to cross one lane of traffic at a time. This can quickly and cheaply implemented using paint, signs and flexible posts. (See photo.)

Making this segment one lane in each direction works nicely with our next recommendation, #17.

Excuses for not doing this that may be put forward are without merit. Congestion: making this short stretch one lane won't change capacity through the area because this intersection isn't the limiting factor, the intersection at the Thruway entrance is. Warrants: the number of people walking here doesn't "warrant" a crosswalk. People do walk here and we have an obligation to protect them. Abdication of this responsibility is why road death rates are 4x higher in the US than in Sweden and motor vehicles are the #1 cause of injury death in the US for kids, and #2 for adults. And it's a contributing factor to why so few people walk from Pennybridge.

2-way protected bicycle lane, Bluebonnet Lane, Austin, TX

Protected Bike Lane to Aqueduct at Lyndhurst

17) [New] The southern end of the Side Path dumps people biking onto a stretch of Broadway where people drive fast. Fortunately, 1,400 feet south of the path, the Old Croton Aqueduct trail picks up at Lyndhurst.

A two-way protected bicycle lane on the western side of Broadway can be quickly and inexpensively implemented with paint and flexible posts. There's enough room to maintain the existing two motor vehicle lanes.

This will keep northbound people from having to cross Broadway at the busy, unprotected crosswalk at the Aqueduct, bike on Broadway, then and cross back over at the very busy Thruway interchange to get onto the Side Path. Similarly, this will keep people from riding bikes on the sidewalk, which will likely see increased volumes once the bridge's path opens.

Designing this lane should be coordinated with the Route 9 Active Transportation Conceptual Design Plan, or even be performed by the project's consultant, Nelson\Nygaard.

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