Friday, November 21, 2008

Fewer trucks on Henry Street thanks to smart thinking

We are very proud of the ingenuity of the CHA Green Committee for their success in getting commerical map maker Hagstrom to recolor Henry Street on its maps and atlases, used by truckers all across the country. Because of their work, starting next spring, fewer trucks will wind up on Henry Street. Our streets will be safer and our lungs healthier. Here is CHA Green Czar Dave 'Paco' Abraham's report:
Reducing Truck Traffic, One Map at a Time

Cobble Hill is a residential neighborhood whose adjacency to the congested Brooklyn Queens Expressway often brings about non-local truck traffic, in particular along Henry Street. Some truck drivers intentionally cut through Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to avoid highway traffic, while others are simply lost, misdirected, and relying on a poorly designed map. Recognizing the latter as a danger to Henry Street's bike route, as well as a burden on neighborhood air quality, the Cobble Hill Green Committee aimed to cut the error off at its source.

Committee member Laura Herzenhorn, herself often behind an oversize vehicle for the American Museum of Natural History, pointed out that many truck drivers rely on the well-known Hagstrom Map books which identify Henry Street with a solid yellow line, properly indicating it as a through-street for regularly sized vehicles. While the Hagstrom Map does not condone trucks using car through-streets, it does falsely assume Henry Street's width. Unlike the Carroll Gardens segment of Henry Street, the Cobble Hill corridor has an extremely narrow width, which poses an extreme danger for trucks assuming they can pass safely. Committee chairperson Dave 'Paco' Abraham spoke with Hagstrom's research department and they have agreed to remove the yellow fill on Henry Street during the next map printing, expected in March of 2009.

Additionally, Hagstrom Maps is now working to publish a NYC map specifically for truck drivers to reduce the frequency of non-local traffic falsely assuming the roads highlighted yellow are wide enough for their oversize loads. A stronger police watch of traffic laws is the only surefire way to curb illegal truck driving, but fixing the Hagstrom Map error is at least one small interim step until major enforcement policy is overhauled.

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