This photo was taken at the corner of 61st Street and Woodside Avenue, and it shows a type of street improvement that can increase safety. The sidewalk is extended into the crosswalk to the edge of the parking lane. The extension adds to the sidwalk and provides a shorter crossing distance. It also narrows the street at that point, giving drivers subtle signals that they are in a place where pedestrians are common, so they should slow down. The trees and awnings complement the extension by sending out their own “slow down” signals.
There are several sidewalk extensions around the “downtown” parts of Woodside and Sunnyside. They usually work so well that we don’t even notice them. They could be installed at most intersections on Skillman and 43rd Avenues, where they have the potential to slow cars down, make drivers more aware of their surroundings, and thereby increase safety.
The main difficulty with sidewalk extensions is that they’re expensive: costs range from $10,000 to $50,000 per extension, depending on whether the sewers or other utilities need to be relocated. This means that the DOT can’t just plop them down like speed humps or signs. The last time I talked with Commissioner McCarthy, she did not seem opposed to sidewalk extensions, but she indicated that it might be a while before there is money in the budget to put them on Skillman or 43rd Avenue.