Light Duty! City Tries New Way to Calm Drivers at Signal-less Crossings

Here's the system in action at Hoyt and President streets in Brooklyn. Photo: DOT
Here's the system in action at Hoyt and President streets in Brooklyn. Photo: DOT

The city has unveiled a new approach to getting drivers to slow down for kids: flashing lights to get their attention.

In an unheralded announcement on Friday morning, the Department of Transportation said it would install rapid-fire strobes at eight intersections near schools — lights that would be triggered by the pedestrians.

The DOT showed off the lights in a tweet from the corner of Hoyt and President streets in Brooklyn. That intersection — at a public school! — has neither a traffic signal nor a stop sign. It is frequently the site of speeding.

Here’s what the same intersection looked like before the installation of the so-called Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons:

Hoyt and President Street
Photo: Google

In a subsequent tweet, the DOT suggested that pedestrians bear some onus for their own safety:

“Pilot features flashing lights to increase pedestrian visibility at crosswalks that don’t have traffic signals or stop signs,” the tweet said. “Pedestrians: Press the button to activate flashing lights. Before you cross, make sure all vehicles have stopped. Only go after the lights are flashing.”

Here's how the system works. Photo: DOT
Here’s how the system works. Photo: DOT

The agency also reminded drivers, truckers, cyclists and motorcyclists, “Always yield to pedestrians, it’s the law. Pay attention to the road and don’t be distracted. Obey the speed limit so you don’t need to make a dangerous stop.”

The DOT did not respond to an initial email from Streetsblog to determine the locations of the seven other schools where the flashing systems have been installed. When the agency responds, we will update this story.


Is Another Stop Light the Best Fix for Livable Streets?

Last week, the New York Times profiled David Bookstaver, who after six years succeeded in getting DOT to install a stop light at East 85th Street and East End Avenue. Whether Mr. Bookstaver’s victory will result in a safer crossing remains to be seen, and stop lights, though popular with the public, are not the only tool […]