New York City Council is considering “illuminated” pedestrian crossings powered by solar energy

An Upper East Side politician is pushing for a new bill aimed at curbing pedestrian deaths by whitening many of the Big Apple’s most dangerous intersections.

Councilwoman Julie Menin’s bill, introduced Aug. 3, would do so require the Department of Transportation to install solar-powered LED crosswalksStop signs and other road signs illuminated in 500 or more heavily used pedestrian zones across the city over the next five years.

“Lighting crosswalks will have significant benefits in reducing pedestrian deaths,” said the Democratic city councilwoman, who represents the Upper East Side and surrounding neighborhoods. “[Other] Communities have embraced solar-powered crosswalks, and New York City needs to embrace this powerful tool.”

Menin wants to tear a page out of traffic safety plans used in other cities across the country – including Orlando and San Francisco.

Like these cities, she wants the DOT to install crosswalks that are activated by weights and light up when pedestrians walk on them or by pressing a button before crossing the street.

Representation of the zebra crossing
The legislation would also require the DOT to study the effectiveness of solar-powered traffic control devices compared to intersections without solar-powered reflectors, which would be installed to also illuminate street signs when someone is crossing.
Julie Menin’s office

She also wants traffic signs along these corridors to flash intermittent lights to improve pedestrian visibility and alert distracted drivers to stop completely.

The legislation also requires the DOT to study the effectiveness of these devices, once in place, compared to crossings without solar-powered reflectors.

Menin’s office couldn’t immediately come up with a budget for funding such a project, but her bill is already gaining momentum.

The LED crosswalks could make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street at night.
The LED crosswalks could make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street at night.
Julie Menin’s office

A dozen other council members agreed to support it within a week of its launch.

In 2019 former councilor Paul Vallone (D-Queens) introduced legislation Looking for a feasibility study to determine whether it makes sense to install solar-powered reflectors at crosswalks, but fell through during the pandemic.

Vallone’s bill was spurred on by the death of 17-year-old Madeline Sershen, She was killed by an 88-year-old motorist who reportedly said she did not see Sershen at a Whitestone crosswalk.

Representation of the solar crosswalk.
Menin’s office could not immediately provide a cost estimate for funding such a project.
Julie Menin’s office

Last year there were 121 fatal pedestrian deaths in the Big Apple, down 4.7% from 2021. according to city records.

The DOT said it plans to review Menin’s bill.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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