In the ongoing battle for safer streets, a straightforward yet effective tactic is gaining traction in urban planning: daylighting. This approach, which enhances visibility at intersections, has been proven to significantly increase pedestrian safety.
Despite its proven efficacy and relatively low cost, daylighting remains underutilized in many cities.
A Growing Movement in Urban Safety
The concept of daylighting has recently received endorsements from community boards across New York, from Queens to Brooklyn. These boards, typically conservative in their support for street redesigns, are now advocating for this change due to the alarming rate of traffic-related incidents. Daylighting, which involves clearing corners of crossings from obstructions like parked cars, improves sightlines for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike, thereby reducing the likelihood of crashes.
Different Forms of Daylighting
Daylighting can manifest in various forms, including curb extensions, use of curbside amenities, and even simple signage. Cities like San Francisco have already seen a significant decrease in collisions at intersections with daylighting implementations. Despite these success stories, many cities still lag behind in adopting this measure, often due to resistance over losing parking spaces.
The Parking Dilemma
Parking proves to be the most significant obstacle in implementing daylighting. Many urban areas allow parking close to, if not beyond, crosswalks, which compromises visibility. Enforcing daylighting often means sacrificing a few parking spots, a change that is met with resistance from drivers.
Cost-Effective and Efficient
Despite perceptions of high costs, daylighting need not be expensive. Cities like Hoboken have shown that simple measures like flexible bollards and paint stripes can be both affordable and effective. The National Association of City Transportation Officials provides guidelines on daylighting, emphasizing that each city may require unique solutions based on its specific challenges.
The Need for More Rapid Implementation
In New York City, a bill passed in April mandates the daylighting of 100 intersections per year starting in 2025. However, some activists argue that this pace is insufficient given the sheer number of intersections in the city. Community boards are increasingly passing resolutions to speed up the process, recognizing the urgency of the issue.
Daylighting is a testament to how minor changes in street design can have major impacts on safety. It underscores the importance of rethinking urban spaces, not just for the convenience of drivers, but for the safety of all road users. With its proven track record and cost-effectiveness, daylighting should be a priority for cities committed to reducing traffic fatalities and enhancing pedestrian safety.