Every day during busy travel times, people turning left from southbound 9th Avenue N block the bike lane and crosswalk across Mercer Street. This happens every signal cycle, forcing people to try to find a path through the mess of cars and trucks just to get across the street. It has been this way for years.
After witnessing this blockage every day on the way home from my kid’s preschool, I became convince that there is a $0 fix to the problem. Well, “fix” is maybe the wrong word. But for $0, the city could make the bike lane and crosswalk much more usable. It is such an obvious solution that I’m sure I am not the first person to think of it (though I did suggest it a half decade ago when it opened). I made the video above to explain the concept.
Mercer Street’s traffic signals have a so-called “Intelligent Transportation Systems Program,” which is supposed to dynamically adjust the signal timings based on the needs of street users. But it is not very “intelligent” if it allows this complete failure to occur every single day for years on end. The problem is that the ITS Program is designed to prioritize vehicle movement, not to make it easier to walk or bike. This is the same system that steals crosswalk time and gives it to cars.
It’s time for some old-fashioned human intervention.