One year ago, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal stood on a traffic island in the middle of the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue, Broadway, and 71st Street to urge the Department of Transportation to install a slew of safety features at what they called “the bowtie of death.” That September, DOT put out a plan to expand sidewalks, add crosswalks and remove traffic lanes from both Broadway and Amsterdam.
This afternoon, Stringer and Rosenthal stood with Upper West Side community leaders on that same traffic island, urging DOT to finally put that safety plan into place. “Not next year, not during the fall, but now,” said Stringer.
Over the last two years, there have been 34 crashes at the intersection, according to Stringer’s office.
DOT had promised to make the safety improvements by this spring, Stringer said. The only change that’s been made so far are the installation of countdown timers on the walk signals. Knowing how much time you have to cross, he said, “is not the same as actually having more time.” Stringer explicitly called for each piece of the DOT safety plan to be installed, including the curb extensions, crosswalks, and the removal of traffic lanes.
“We shouldn’t be standing here today,” said Rosenthal. She’s been pushing for a safety fix for the intersection since 2007, when her office released a report on senior pedestrian safety in the neighborhood with Transportation Alternatives. The dangers of the crossing are so glaring that the Los Angeles Times led off a story on unsafe streets for the elderly with a discussion of that very corner, Rosenthal pointed out.
Rosenthal also named 96th Street, Riverside Boulevard, and the intersection of 79th Street and Riverside Drive as in need of pedestrian safety improvements.
Stringer said that while he’s met with DOT to discuss the intersection, he has gotten no firm commitment on when the safety fixes would be installed. The DOT press office did not reply to Streetsblog’s inquiry about what has held up the promised improvements.
Stringer was careful to state that the press conference was not an attack on the department or on Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. But, he said, “we’re not looking to come out here when somebody dies.”
Update: “Work will begin next month now that we’ve resolved the major challenges of building atop a major, active subway station,” DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow told Streetsblog after the publication of this story.