DOT Plans Changes for UWS Intersections After Pedestrian Deaths [Updated]

Video: Barron Lerner, uncle of Cooper Stock, speaks at last night’s CB 7 forum.

Update: DOT’s presentation on the intersection of Broadway and W. 96th Street is here.

DOT last night presented proposals to improve conditions for pedestrians in an area of the Upper West Side where three people were killed by motorists in January.

The Community Board 7 forum was packed with residents and electeds, who are looking to the city to take action in the wake of the deaths of Cooper Stock, Alexander Shear, and Samantha Lee.

At 96th and Broadway, where Shear was struck by the driver of a tour bus, the biggest change would be a ban on left turns from Broadway by southbound drivers, and the addition of a crosswalk linking Broadway’s center medians north and south of 96th, according to CB 7 member Ken Coughlin.

There is a subway entrance in the middle of Broadway on the south side of the intersection, a project that precipitated the removal of a significant amount of sidewalk space. Coughlin told Streetsblog pedestrians at the northwest corner of the intersection can be forced to wait almost two minutes to reach the subway entrance, since they have to cross both 96th Street and Broadway.

In addition to reducing conflicts between pedestrians and turning drivers, Coughlin says “The new plan gives pedestrians a second option, to cross in the middle, and cuts the wait way down.” Left turns from northbound Broadway onto 96th would still be allowed, Coughlin says.

“These [southbound] turns are currently very dangerous for pedestrians because the turn phase starts before those crossing 96th on the east side of Broadway get their walk signal,” says Coughlin. “Seeing traffic on 96th stopped for a red, many pedestrians start walking, unaware that turning traffic is coming toward them to their left.”

At W. 97th Street and West End Avenue, Gothamist reports that DOT has increased the leading pedestrian interval from six to 12 seconds, will be adding “yield to pedestrians” signage, and will consider adjusting signal times on 97th from Amsterdam Avenue to Riverside Drive. Most important, DOT will daylight the intersection by removing three parking spots, according to Gothamist.

Cooper Stock and his father were hit by a cab driver in the crosswalk at W. 97th Street and West End Avenue three weeks ago. Barron Lerner, Stock’s uncle, spoke at last night’s hearing. “We loved Cooper so much and miss him beyond words,” said Lerner. “He was the happiest person in the history of either of our families, and he was killed at age nine. We beg you, please do not let politics, bureaucracy, and interest group squabbling prevent meaningful reform in the name of Cooper and the other innocent victims of reckless and careless and distracted drivers.”

Coughlin said Inspector Nancy Barry, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct, announced that in addition to jaywalking tickets, officers were writing many more citations to drivers for violations including failure to yield. The precinct summonsed 260 drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians in all of 2013, and wrote just 58 speeding tickets.

Lerner also spoke about enforcement. “While we are all for interventions that get cyclists and walkers to follow the law, the fact is that cyclists and walkers do not kill innocent people crossing the street legally,” he said. “Cars driven by reckless and distracted drivers do. Let’s not lose sight of what the urgent public health issue is here.”

We’ve asked DOT for a PDF of last night’s presentation and will link to it here when we hear back.

  • Mark Walker

    The planned crosswalk linking the center medians will connect to a median on the northern side of 96th that was heavily nibbled when the subway station house was built. Are there any plans to expand the size of that median? As it stands now, there is very little space for pedestrians to stand while waiting for signals to change…. As for the daylighting of WEA and 97th, I hope it becomes standard procedure on most corners, especially when at least one street is a wide speedway. Maybe it should be mandated by law — call it Cooper’s Law?

  • Disappointing…

  • Mark

    I attended last night’s CB7 forum. I was highly encouraged to finally see DOT, NYPD, CB7, politicians, the press, and the community all working to address the issue of street safety. Councilman Mark Levine spoke at the beginning of the meeting. He was awesome: well informed, thoughtful, he had good specific thoughts as to what he could do to help, he suggested the the 24th precinct adopt practices from the 78th in Brooklyn. He focused on the need for 20 MPH speed limits.

    It was good to see a large turn out from NYPD. It was pretty clear that Inspector Nancy Barry didn’t understand the first thing about street safety. NYPD was busy handing out victim blaming info cards, and Inspector Barry spent most of her presentation telling pedestrians to be careful. But she said several times that she fully supports Mayor Diblasio’s Vision Zero Campaign. I doubt she had any idea what Vision Zero really means, but at least the empty words are a start.

    I think Elizabeth Caputo is really committed to having CB7 address the issue of street safety. We will see if she has any better luck than her predecessors.

    Helen Rosenthal embarrassed herself last night. She got up, proceeded to thank everyone including the NYPD for their victim blaming, and the DOT for putting really excellent completely meaningless signage. She waved around a binder where she kept all the comments she received from constituents. She said how good UWS’ers are at showing up to meetings. Her comments trivialized all the effort that so many people have made to get the city to finally pay attention to the murder of innocent children. She had no clue about what she could do. She had no sense of good policy. She had no sense of the seriousness of the issue. I found her glib, jokey manner offensive. We show up at meetings because we don’t want our kids and neighbors to die, and we need politicians who don’t just thank everyone for doing nothing. We need politicians who are going to lead and make the necessary changes so that our residential streets are no longer treated like highways.

    Ryan Russo from DOT did a very nice job. You can see that he is a really competent transportation engineer. He must have personally spent a few days thinking about W96th and Bway. The changes he proposed were good but tepid. He still is not engaging with the fundamental question of whether the space in front of a transit stop should be treated like a highway on-ramp. His changes are a small optimization on a bad situation. They are improvements, but they don’t really get to the heart of the matter.

    And DOT has only one Ryan Russo for all of NYC. I was surprised that a guy as senior as him was so in the nitty gritty of the signal timing changes. If he is personally working on projects like this, then DOT only has the resources to fix about 50 intersections a year. DOT is going to need a lot more planners if they are going to be able to really make our streets safer before our children are grown.

  • andrewlange

    Based on slide 8 of the presentation ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2014-01-broadway-96-mn-cb1.pdf ) it looks like they creating spaces that are like the ped plazas rather than truly expanding the median. The plazas look like they will be taking up the current left turn lane on the SB Broadway side, with a small ped plaza extension on the NB broadway side (lanes reduced from 3 to 2).

  • Mark Walker

    I posted before the DOT presentation was posted. So, if I understand correctly, peds get more space on the north mall, but it’s not protected space? No concrete barrier, no bollards?

  • andrewlange

    Unprotected is what it looks like to me, but can’t tell 100% from their renderings. And also not sure if the plan is to remove the concrete wall on the south side of 96th to allow unobstructed crossing in the new crosswalk.

  • Niles

    There is some subtle shading in the presentation, it looks like there will be a gap cut in the South wall.

    That would jibe with the DOT work at 72nd and Bway where a mall to mall crosswalk was added as well. There, the ped expansions with tan pavement treatments got plastic bollards, but yellow striped areas did not.

  • Mark Walker

    I guess a barrier would impede the median crossing. But metal bollards would not. In fact, they’d be helpful at all four corners as well. I’d like something between me and those sloppy, impatient, fast-moving drivers with more car-stopping power than rubber bollards or a curb.

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