Protect Pedestrians on 3rd Avenue

3rd Avenue is the widest street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, carrying five lanes of traffic through the residential neighborhood of Yorkville where 70% of households don't own a car. Yet five lanes of traffic on this car-centric street inhibits its residents from accessing businesses, parks and schools. Its sheer width makes it nearly impossible for most people to cross the street safely!

We must redesign 3rd Avenue for pedestrians, not vehicles. The most dangerous part of 3rd Avenue, a Vision Zero Priority Corridor is a seventeen block stretch, between 79th St and 96th St. In the past six years alone, 136 pedestrians have been injured here - that's one injury every 16 days.

We can learn from the Department of Transportation’s pedestrian-centered projects that have been approved recently:

  • Add daylighting (more visibility) at the intersections.
  • Extend curbs (wider sidewalks) and make traffic signals more walkable (more time to cross the street)
  • Implement split-phase traffic signals for cars or a left turn ban at major intersections, like 86th Street
  • Assess the potential for a bike lane: Third Avenue has high cyclist presence and yet there is a complete absence of infrastructure to help 

Vision Zero improvements help protect the most vulnerable Upper East Siders. We call upon elected officials and Community Board 8 to act, and urge the NYC Department of Transportation to redesign 3rd Avenue and make it safer for pedestrians!

This petition will be delivered to
Council Member Ben Kallos, Borough President Gale Brewer, Community Board 8 of Manhattan
3rd Avenue is the widest street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, carrying five lanes of traffic through a very dense residential neighborhood, even though only 30% of the households in the neighborhood even own a car. This avenue has been designed exclusively to help drivers pass through the neighborhood, rather than help its residents access businesses, parks and schools. It is very wide and difficult to cross, and the signal duration is not long enough to fully allow safety for all pedestrians.

The seventeen blocks of 3rd Avenue between 79th St and 96th St encompass the most dangerous part of the 3rd Avenue Vision Zero priority corridor on the Upper East Side. As a result of the harmful, car-focused design, 136 pedestrians have been injured here in the past six years (one injury every 16 days), many among them children and senior citizens. In the past two years, since traffic improvements were added to 1st and 2nd Avenue, 3rd Av has paled in comparison, showing twice the number of crashes when compared to the other avenues in Yorkville. Something must be done to make crossing the street safer.

We can learn from the Department of Transportation’s pedestrian-centered and bicyclist safety projects that have been implemented or approved in recent memory.

(1) To fix the problem of low pedestrian visibility along the corridor, add daylighting to intersections to ensure pedestrians will be safer from turning vehicles. For example, at 95th Street, parked cars and construction currently obscure visibility at a left-turn in front of a school, endangering schoolchildren and their parents.

(2) To fix the issue of the lack of adequate time to cross the avenue, extend curbs and increase the duration of signals. Curb extensions, like those installed in the Park Avenue Corridor Safety Improvements (2014), will have the added benefit of making drivers more cautious with turns.

(3) At the dangerous intersection of 3rd Avenue & 86th Street, implement a split-phase signal or a left turn ban on 86th Street to fix blocking of the box and protect pedestrians from turning vehicles.

(4) Assess the potential for a bike lane, given the high cyclist presence and complete absence of infrastructure to help them.

The longer we allow this street to remain designed only to benefit cars, the more seniors will be injured crossing the street, and the more traffic collisions will occur. 18% of the Upper East Side’s population is age 65 or older, higher than the city-wide rate, so Vision Zero improvements are more essential in protecting vulnerable pedestrians.

We call upon elected officials and Community Board 8 to ask the NYC Department of Transportation to study a redesign for 3rd Avenue and make this area more safe for pedestrians.
Read the letter