Pedestrians crossing 86th Street at Fourth Avenue on the morning of Sept. 24 were a bit startled when they looked down at the roadway and saw a pair of eyes staring at the traffic. No, it wasn’t a person lying in the street. It was a sign painted on the roadway offering a friendly warning from the city’s Department of Transportation.
Under a new pedestrian safety campaign, called LOOK!, launched jointly by the federal and city departments of transportation, signs with the word “Look” are being painted at intersections all over the city, including several corners in Brooklyn, to urge people to look for oncoming traffic before venturing into the street.
The two “Os” in the word “look” are painted to look like eyeballs looking in the direction of oncoming traffic, according to transportation officials.
The intersection of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue is one of the busiest in Bay Ridge, according to local officials, who said the corner is the scene of numerous accidents involving pedestrians struck and injured by cars.
City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the launch of the new LOOK! safety campaign on Sept. 19 at the intersection of Second Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, one of the dozens of intersections around the city where the markings are featured.
“LOOK! is a message to all New Yorkers that safety is in the eye of the beholder and everyone needs to keep an eye out for each other on our streets,” Sadik-Khan said.
“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority, but everyone has a role to play in achieving our goal. This new campaign will remind both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and focused at all times, whether they are behind the wheel or traveling by foot,” LaHood said.
Amanda McFaline, who was getting ready to cross 86th Street at Fourth Avenue with her baby in a stroller on the afternoon of Sept. 24, said she had noticed the sign in the street. “I’ve seen it before, but I didn’t know what it was for,” she said. When McFaline was informed by a reporter on the nature of the sign, she said she thought it was a good idea. “It’s like those signs on the subway stairs pointing up and down to tell you which direction to go in. You wouldn’t think that was necessary, but I guess it is,” she said.
“I think it’s stupid!” said another woman standing on the corner. “Why can’t the city just put up signs telling you to look both ways before crossing the street? I don’t think people are going to know what the hell this thing in the street is doing there. I thought it was some kind of ad for a new movie,” said the woman, who did not want her name to be published.
The curbside markings are currently installed in crosswalks at 110 intersections citywide, according to officials, who said there are also ads on nearby bus shelters, phone kiosks and other outdoor areas to reinforce the message to look before crossing the street.
For more information on programs by the city’s Dept. of Transportation to enhance pedestrian safety, visit www.nyc.gov/dot.