Mayor Says Plan To Cone Off Lane Of Traffic Is 'Certainly Worth Looking At'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The nightly rush hour crush among pedestrians on Seventh Avenue near Penn Station could bring big changes to the traffic pattern through the area.

CBS2 was first to show you driving lanes mobbed with pedestrians risking their lives to get to trains. On Thursday, CBS2’s Dave Carlin got a response from Mayor Bill de Blasio to the serious safety issue.

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Every weekday, rush hour on Seventh Avenue in the 30s involves a dangerous dash. Pedestrians desperate to get to their trains in Penn Station will do almost anything to avoid getting jammed on clogged sidewalks, so they put their feet to the street.

“It really is a free-for-all,” said Daniel DeMatteo of East Rockaway.

Donna Mannix of Wantagh even admitted that she has almost been hit by cars more than once.

Some drivers were also shocked to see this mob of people all around them, oh so close.

“I had pedestrians walk into the door earlier,” said Matthew Canela of Wheatley Heights.

CBS2 reported on the Seventh Avenue stampedes Wednesday night. On Thursday, CBS2 demanded answers about it from Mayor de Blasio.

Carlin: “Every single rush-hour evening, people are rushing to get their trains and the sidewalks are so packed and they’re jumping into the streets.”
De Blasio: “The first thing we want to do is add the uniform presence to help manage that process.”

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The mayor said more than 200 traffic enforcement agents are being added to city intersections.

But Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives said that alone won’t stop such rush-hour street-runners.

“We should be providing adequate space for those pedestrians to walk instead of forcing them to spill in the way of passing cars and trucks,” he said.

White’s solution is to take away a lane of traffic from drivers and give it to pedestrians, by coning it off just for the peak evening hours.

“We will be protecting the lives of pedestrians,” he said.

CBS2’s Carlin asked Mayor de Blasio about that idea.

Carlin: “One proposal has been to give an extra lane traffic cones off, with some enforcement, for the three hours from maybe 5 to 8.”

De Blasio: “To that specific proposal, I haven’t heard before. I think it’s certainly it’s worth looking at.”

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In the meantime, the chaos continues.