4-Way Stops For Pedestrians Could Be Good For NYC, Traffic Expert Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A famed traffic engineer on Tuesday said it might be a good idea to expand the use of a four-way stop to benefit pedestrians.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Sam Schwartz – known as Gridlock Sam – said the four-way stop to allow pedestrians to cross in all directions, including diagonally, is known as the Barnes Dance. It is named after the commissioner who invented it, Henry Barnes.

“We had it at many locations in New York City and it worked well,” Schwartz said. “There were capacity constraints, it did slow traffic.”

Schwartz noted the Barnes dance is one of many tools.

“It might be the feature you want to use,” he said. “In a lot of dangerous intersections or high-risk intersections, you find that the design of the intersection is more critical.”

But he said the Barnes Dance is by no means a panacea.

Barnes began promoting the system in the 1940s and brought it to New York after being named the city’s traffic commissioner in 1962. The Barnes Dance stops all vehicles for a few seconds and allows for only pedestrians to cross an intersection in all directions at once.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th) introduced a bill last year calling for bringing the Barnes Dance back to the Big Apple widely. The New York Post reported the system is now in place at only a couple of New York City intersections.

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