Safety measures, such as 3-foot steel cylindrical bollards, prevented additional fatalities and injuries when a motorist plowed his car into pedestrians in Times Square last month and killed an 18-year-old woman and injured 20 other pedestrians. This tragedy has sparked a review of safety measures imposed in 2012 to prevent future injuries from terrorists or even negligent parties.
Temporary concrete blocks have been placed along corners on the west side of Seventh Avenue since this attack. However, police believe that installation of an excessive number of bollards could impede people trying to flee buildings in emergencies and block first responder vehicles.
One expert advocated for the incorporation of bollards and other protections into the design of safety plazas in 2012 instead of adding unsightly concrete barriers later. In addition to intentional attacks, police were also worried about accidents that sent drivers heading into pedestrians, as well as confused motorists turning their cars into plazas that used to be street accessible to vehicles.
Bollards are apparently needed on the plazas but not on all the sidewalks, according to this expert. People relaxing at patio tables and distracted by performances at Times Square would be more vulnerable to vehicle accidents in the plazas.
A former Commissioner of the City’s Department of Design and Construction said that crowded sidewalks could not contain many more bollards. He argued for the closing of Seventh Avenue from 42nd to 47th Street to allow pedestrians to spill off from crowded sidewalks.
Additional protections may also be needed around bike lanes in the area. Residents have also requested permanent protections for the growing number of tourists who are unprotected around attractions, such as the Fearless Girl statue.
Changes to Times Square traffic patterns since its 2012 redesign, however, have made this area safer. There has been a drop in pedestrian injuries since cars have been blocked from entering Broadway. An average of 62 pedestrians, bicyclists and car occupants were injured each year from 2006 to 2008 before Broadway was closed. This dropped to an annual average of 37 from 2014 to 2016.
Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles cannot always safely coexist on crowded New York streets. Victims of pedestrian accidents caused by reckless, negligent or distracted drivers may be entitled to compensation for injuries. An attorney can help them obtain evidence and pursue a lawsuit.
Source: The New York Times, “In Times Square Attack, Bollards Stopped One Car. But What About the Next?,” Benjamin Mueller, May 23, 2017