New York, NY – City Crosswalks Urge Pedestrians to LOOK!

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    (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)New York, NY – At bustling intersections where fast-walking, rapid-texting New Yorkers come together with cars, cabs, carriage horses and daredevil bicycle messengers, the city is trying to slip in an emphatic message: LOOK!

    That word is being stenciled onto the crosswalks of 110 of the city’s most dangerous intersections. Officials hope it will catch the eyes of pedestrians who walk with their heads buried in their smartphones.

    “New Yorkers are driven to distraction with their smartphones, and the simple act of looking can prevent thousands of crashes and injuries every year,” said city Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who borrowed the idea from crosswalk signs in London that warn tourists to “Look Right” for traffic coming in a direction they may not expect.

    But she gave New York’s signs some in-your-face twists: the exclamation mark and little eyeballs peering from the Os in the direction of oncoming traffic.

    It’s the most visible part of a $1 million campaign aimed at solving a chronic problem. More than 9,000 New York pedestrians were injured and 41 killed in 2010, the last year for which detailed traffic crash data is available.

    “It won’t make any difference to me,” 58-year-old Patrick Egan said after stepping over a “LOOK!” sign at Second Avenue and 42nd Street, an intersection where 75 pedestrians were injured between 2006 and 2010.

    Egan, who works in video production and lives on the Upper East Side, says he walks around the area frequently and is always very careful. “I tell my wife to step back even when she’s standing and waiting, because you never know where a car will come from.”

    Looking at the white letters, he added, “If you’re looking down at this, you’re not looking at the traffic and paying attention.”

    But Seema Seepersad, 37, a nanny from Queens cautiously taking a toddler and a 3-year-old across the street, said the “LOOK!” is eye-catching. “It’s a good idea. It makes you pay attention; it makes you more careful, because suddenly, you see this word!”

    Sadik-Khan says progress will be tracked, comparing injuries at each targeted intersection.

    In addition, the transportation department is putting ads on bus shelters, telephone kiosks and subway entrances. One ad says: “Mom was right. Look before you cross the street.”

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    11 COMMENTS

    1. I try to make sure I have the attention of the driver nearest to me by the crosswalk before I start crossing the street. It doesn’t matter if you have the green light if the driver is distracted by a cell phone call and is about to make a right turn.

    2. In Brooklyn you have to look for all the HOLES in the pavement and the sidewalk, before you walk. Some places get fixed, and some areas never get touched at all. One spot might get a small pothole filled after working on it and calling 311 for a YEAR!! Do you really think that 311 works?

    3. Great, so now we’ll be staring at the word written on the ground when we should be crossing street. Then, some of us will look up in the sky or in ALL directions. Those of us fixated on our smart phones won’t notice anything. Tourists who don’t read English will

      The Brits (used to?) have a better idea – an arrow painted in the crosswalk pointing in the direction of oncoming traffic.

    4. All this presupposes that pedestrians in NYC know how to read simple, one syllable, English words.

      I wonder how many alumni of American mesivtos and yeshivos actually can? Not very many if one judges by the standards of spelling, syntax and grammar here on VIN.

      And no, “syntax” is NOT a fine payable instead of davening on Yom Kippur.

      • Does it make you feel superior when you make gratuitous remarks?

        And your timing couldn’t be more appropriate, coming just between the yemei hadin.

        But perhaps you can read that because you missed out on basic yeshiva education.

        • All remarks published on VIN (and most of the other blogs and websites, come to that) are “gratuitous”.

          Nobody extended a formal invitation to either you, me, or any other contributor to throw in our two cents’ worth. In fact, Anonymous #8, if you did not have the “yemei hadin” as a rod to beat me with you would doubtless find something else for that purpose.

          Lighten up a little.

          Yes, it’s a serious time of the year, but there is no issur on a little fun between Rosh Hashanah and motzei Yom Kippur – unless some overbearing zealot has slipped it in while you and I did not see it.

    5. To #5 That is one of the bad corners. Just about every corner of CI Avenue is bad. Take a good look when you are out. There is one street where the pavement of the road is on the sidewalk. They really did a GOOD JOB 2 years ago didn’t they?? The pavement is sticking up so that you can trip on it!!

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