Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One voice...

or in this case, one email, can bring about a change, even in a city as big and dynamic as New York City.  It comes as a huge and pleasant surprise to me as well that a simple request submitted online to a city agency could not only be acknowledged but then fulfilled in a relatively short time frame. 

No doubt you're wondering to what am I referring.  Well, every day I travel the same route to take Logan to and from school and to generally get around in my neighborhood.  After years of experience, I've determined it's the best route due to it having the fewest traffic lights.  If you know anything about NYC, there's a light on nearly every single corner.  It can take 20 minutes to go just a few blocks because of all the lights.  My tried and true route has worked for years but in recent months, one particular traffic light has been messing up a carefully mapped out travel plan designed to get me where I need to go in the shortest time. 

This traffic light was causing a back up blocks long and it would take 4 or 5 changes for one to actually get through that intersection.  The light was longer on the north/south street and shorter on the east/west street and this was a problem because the east/west street has by far the higher traffic volume.

So one day last January after sitting at that light way too long and way too many times, once I got home I went online to the Department of Transportation's website.  After a bit of searching I discovered I could request a traffic study on that light.  At the time, I wasn't even sure such a thing could be done.  I just knew I'd wasted enough time at that darn light.  I submitted the traffic study request and this is the response I received...

Thank you for your email concerning the timing of the traffic signals on Steinway Street and 20th Avenue  in Queens .

Signal timing cycle lengths usually fall between 45 and 120 seconds. The timing for each signal is determined based on traffic volume and traffic patterns in each particular area. Our Signal Engineering Division will conduct an analysis of the signal timing to determine if the signals are operating properly with adequate amount of time allocated for safe crossing of pedestrians.

The careful consideration of all relevant information is necessary to reach a solution that will be in the best interests of public safety as well as allowing for well managed street operations. The Borough Commissioner will inform you of our findings and recommendations by end of March 2013 .

Information about traffic signals is available on the DOT web site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/faqs/faqs_signals.shtml.

The safety of our residents is of primary concern to the NYCDOT.  Please be assured that we will fully investigate this matter.  Your participation in transportation issues which affect your community is greatly appreciated.

Customer Service Division
New York City Department of Transportation

Ok, so after reading that, I didn't really expect anything to happen.  After all, this is New York City, a city of millions of people and nearly 12,000 traffic lights.  So imagine my surprise when the following emailed attachment came.

This is in response to January 10th e-mail to the 311 Customer Service Center regarding the operation of the traffic signals at the intersection of Steinway Street and 20th Avenue.
As a result of our investigation completed last month, we have modified the timing of the signals at this location (and adjacent intersections) to improve coordination.  We believe this change will alleviate the problem outlined in the e-mail.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Dalila Hall 
Deputy Borough Commissioner 

Can you believe it?  Isn't that something else?  I'm very happy to report traffic is moving much better at that intersection.  Good job New York City!



courtney said...

Well, I guess that's just proof that it never hurts to ask, isn't it?
It's impressive you got an initial response to your request. That you got a follow up email to let you know they'd actually done the study and changed the timing on the lights is downright amazing!

luv46kdz said...

Ya see that, even in the city that never sleeps, how fantastic :) WTG my friend

Kathi said...

Wow - government really CAN be for the people! Nice.

Lisa said...

Good Job! I'm sure you made many many people happy with that request! You should stand out by the light with a sign that says I did this! haha You go girl!