Press Releases

Press Release #07-102

Contact: Seth Solomonow (212) 442-7033

DOT Announces Expansion of Countdown Pedestrian Signal Study

More than 150 signals to be studied in all five boroughs

New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today

announced an expansion of the pilot program which analyzes the impacts on

motorist and pedestrian behavior of "countdown signals," which display the

number of seconds pedestrians have to cross the street before the opposing

vehicle traffic is given the right of way. The expanded study will be conducted

along busy corridors in all five boroughs.

"We want to provide the safest environment possible for pedestrians crossing the street," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "By focusing on busy corridors and using video analysis we hope to find that pedestrians use the information provided by these signals to cross the street in a safe manner."

There are currently about 90,000 pedestrian signals citywide. This study will convert about 164 of these signals, at 24 intersections, to those that include the countdown timer. During this evaluation period the City's consultant will use visual and video-tape analysis to better understand if the countdown feature encourages safer behavior by both pedestrians and motorists. They will also collect data on vehicular speeds, compliance, accidents and motorist reaction. Pedestrian countdown signals are currently used in other cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Detroit, Albany and Baltimore.

The pedestrian countdown signals are the same size as the existing pedestrian signal head, but feature a dual display (the traditional "Walking Man" and "Hand" display, and a pedestrian interval countdown display). The countdown feature is programmed to start at the beginning of the "flashing hand" cycle and end when the flashing hand becomes steady.

The expanded study will take place along the following corridors:

  • In Staten Island along Hylan Boulevard from Tysens Lane to New Dorp Lane
  • In Queens along Steinway Street from 30th to 34th Avenues
  • In Manhattan along East 14th Street from Third to Fifth Avenues
  • In the Bronx along East Gun Hill Road from Dekalb Avenue to Kings College Place
  • In Brooklyn along 86th Street from Third to Fifth Avenues

After looking at studies of countdown signals undertaken by other cities, last fall a study was initiated in New York at 5 intersections, one in each borough. While the signals did not cause additional accidents, the evidence was not conclusive that they led to safer behavior. The expanded and more comprehensive study should be complete by next fall. A cost estimate is not yet available.