Tonight: Speak Up for Pedestrian Safety on Deadly West End Avenue

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

Tonight, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 will vote on a DOT proposal to improve safety on West End Avenue, where drivers have killed two pedestrians in 2014. If you live, work, or play on the Upper West Side, your voice could put this proposal over the top.

West End Avenue serves as a thoroughfare for drivers entering and exiting the Henry Hudson Parkway. It is lined with schools and, as home to a high population of seniors, is within a DOT Safe Streets for Seniors focus area. From 2008 to 2012, 148 pedestrians and cyclists were injured in traffic crashes on West End Avenue from W. 75th Street to W. 106th Street, with 11 severe injuries, according to DOT. During that time, 168 motor vehicle occupants were injured, eight severely, which gives some indication of how fast motorists drive on the street.

DOT proposes to give West End Avenue a road diet, converting it from four through lanes to two from W. 72nd Street to W. 106th Street, and adding a flush center median with left turn lanes, with 13-foot parking lanes on both sides [PDF].

DOT would prohibit northbound left turns at W. 97th Street and southbound lefts at W. 95th Street — intersections where drivers killed Cooper Stock and Jean Chambers, respectively. Pedestrian islands would be installed in the north and south crosswalks at W. 95th and W. 97th Streets.

A southbound right turn lane would be added curbside at W. 96th Street. Parking would be removed from the west side of West End Avenue between 97th and 96th, which would improve pedestrian visibility. A current parking restriction on the south side of W. 95th Street from Riverside Drive to West End Avenue would be lifted.

No bike lanes are included in the DOT proposal.

DOT says the redesign would streamline motor vehicle flow by preventing drivers from slaloming between lanes to avoid turning and double-parked vehicles. It would reduce the number of conflicts for turning drivers, DOT notes, allowing motorists to pay more attention to pedestrians in crosswalks, while slowing turns and discouraging “double lefts” — two drivers turning left at the same time from a cross street into West End Avenue through lanes.

DOT presented this proposal at a town hall meeting in July, where it received a “mixed reception,” according to the West Side Rag. This is a modest plan, but it will prevent injuries and quite possibly save lives. As Streetsblog readers know, Community Board 7 has a history of holding up street safety projects, including a 2013 recommendation for West End Avenue improvements. With a committee vote set for tonight, it’s essential that the board hears from members of the public who want West End Avenue to be a safer place to walk.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the CB 7 office, 250 W. 87th Street. Public comments will be accepted at the end of the meeting. 

  • Jeff

    I like how we’re designing for double-parking, an illegal activity, at the expense of including proper bike infrastructure. I think we could extend this to other illegal activities. Perhaps design parks with limited-visibility alcoves for those who wish to do illegal drugs?

  • Jim

    Well, the logical thing would be to actually give *priority* to commercial vehicles — i.e., a top reason for why the roads are a socialized expense for a common need/good. However, this would require the creation of many many many more enforced loading zones that are actually clear of non-commercial vehicles and enforcing (forcing?) the commercial drivers to *actually use* the loading zones. You know what that would mean, though? OH NO! Parking!! What about our Parking!>!>!>?>?>? Aaaaack!

  • walks bikes drives

    Left turns from 95 to WEA should be banned all the time, not just 7-9am on weekdays. A red light camera should be added there. The speed humps, one of which is to be added, should be spread with the second one only a couple var lengths from the entry to the intersection and the first one just before reaching the school. Instead of double parking space, there should be PASSENGER loading zones that UPS and FedEx can also utilize. A bike lane should be added. Pedestrian islands at all intersections that do not have and need dedicated turn lanes should have pedestrian islands.

    And repave the street.

    That will make a safer street.

  • walks bikes drives

    Commercial vehicles are technically not allowed on West End Ave.

  • Reader

    You mean like delivery vans? FedEx and UPS trucks? Pizza delivery cars? Plumbers and service technicians? I think they’re allowed to make deliveries and stops at residential buildings on West End Ave. What’s not allowed are trucks simply passing through.

  • Jim

    Yes, I mean vehicles that need a loading zone…. the delivery of goods and services to homes, businesses and so on.

  • They seriously drew double parking into the proposed image?

  • MatthewEH

    “DOT would prohibit northbound left turns at W. 97th Street and southbound lefts at W. 95th Streets”

    I think this should read *southbound* left turns at W. 97th Street, and *northbound* lefts at W. 95th.

  • R

    The DOT has absolutely no courage when it comes to bikes anymore.

  • Reader

    I’m responding to wbd. It’s not true that commercial vehicles are not allowed on WEA.

  • Jim

    Are you talking to yourself?

  • Jim

    To be fair — of course they did. The DOT doesn’t enforce parking regulations. It’s actually good practice to create design that deals with the reality — no? If they can’t get parking lanes cleared to create commercial-only loading zones (which they can’t — the uproar would be crazy. flaming pitchfork style.), they might as well show what the reality is and accommodate it. The “road diet” on Ocean Ave in Flatbush has made traffic flow much better and double-parking is still the absolute norm… there’s just room for it now.

  • Jim

    (That’s weird — before it said walk bikes drives replying to walk bikes drives. it doesn’t anymore.)

  • R

    A fine strategy if you want to get to Vision Zero in 50 years.

  • Brad Aaron

    What’s in the proposal is in the copy.

  • Jim

    Or… the city could put more of an emphasis on the first tenet of the “Vision Zero” scheme, namely LAW ENFORCEMENT. Why is street design and legislation made to carry the heavy load?

    Imagine if the NYPD became just slightly less worthless and corrupt when it come to traffic safety… maybe this could spill over into how they approach the rest of their job.

    By the way, I’m putting the lazy and corrupt so-called “Traffic Enforcement Officers” at the top of the list. They are infuriating. Ticket an expired meter, but ignore the 3 car double-parked *next to* the expired meter causing a dangerous bottleneck (vs. the expired meter causing no safety issue). Oh, and double-parking their vehicle or in the crosswalk or on the sidewalk… creating a more dangerous situation than what they are ticketing.

    However, the real officers are just as pathetic… How many times have I seen officers having a break or just sitting in their car (i.e., not actively responding to anything, i.e., nothing preventing them from doing something) and absolute mayhem is occurring 10 ft in front of them!!!

    I thought this whole “broken window” was Bratton’s thing? His officers seem to think anything below paramilitary assault force is beneath them.

  • qrt145

    Double parking is actually legal for commercial vehicles and taxis while loading/unloading and there is no available spot within a certain distance (I’m too lazy to look it up). What’s illegal is to double park while you go to church, or to pick up your dry cleaning, or wait for your kids to come out of school…

    See how the picture cleverly calls it a “parking/loading lane”, avoiding the term “double parking”?

  • lop

    Broken windows is only politically palatable if those targeted for enforcement are marginalized groups. If you focus on mayhem in the streets you hit too many people who won’t tolerate the police harassing them.

  • R

    Because cops can’t be everywhere and they can’t chase down every driver who speeds. Many of our streets are dangerous by design, making design the only solution for eliminating the danger.

  • Jim

    That’s cute… “because cops can’t be everywhere” — Could cops be *somewhere*?! By the way, did I mention speeding? Half the dangerous traffic situations I see could be handled by an NYPD officer with a crutch — not high speed chases. But it requires the cop to give a crap (and not be guilty of engaging in the same dangerous behavior him/herself).

  • Tyler

    Like fellow officers or their families.

  • J

    Another no-backbone move by DOT. Instead of addressing the cause of the problem of double parking (underpriced parking & no loading zones), they simply accommodate and normalize the illegal behavior, making it that much harder for future administrations to actually fix the problem.

  • J

    Seriously, maybe we’ll get dog-shit zones on the sidewalk too.

  • J

    So we’re now building streets with special facilities designed for double parked cars, but zero facilities for cyclists. It will be utterly unsurprising when those street become full of bunch double parked cars and have almost no cyclists. Is this really our vision for a 21st century complete street? Is this the direction we want our city to move? Come on, DOT, you can do better than this.

  • Cold Shoaler

    Which is worse – drawing in double parking, or drawing in an unprotected doorzone bike lane that will end up filled with double parking? Whatever can be done quickly to cut down on the number of people being killed by the current design should be put in place, but this lane configuration is crap.

  • Daphna

    The wimpiness of this plan speaks to who is on community boards. The DOT chooses to let community boards, which are advisory only, have actual up or down say over whether a plan is implemented or not. Because the DOT is giving this power to community boards, they have to come up with plans that those community board members will vote up. Unfortunately, community boards have many members who are reluctant to agree to street re-designs.

  • MatthewEH

    Oh, I see. They’re saying “northbound traffic on WEA will not be able to turn left at 97th”, and similar; I was interpreting that to mean traffic coming *from* 97th would no longer be able to turn onto WEA. That makes more sense.

  • Daphna

    The DOT could address double parking – not through enforcement but through better curbside regulations. The DOT has the power to create loading/unloading zones, the power to convert parking regulations from alternate side parking to muni meter. They choose not to use this power. They choose to wait and let a local community board request the needed loading zone or request the conversion to metered parking. Of course, community boards rarely request these changes because there is a bias towards giving people free car storage on the streets instead of having regulations in place that would encourage turnover and let people get a curbside spot when they need it.

    NYC curbside regulations are archaic. Commercial vehicles are forced to double park, and get tickets, which is not fair, because the curbside regulations do not incentivize turnover.

  • Daphna

    Street design is more effective than law enforcement when promoting safer driving.

  • Daphna

    The section from 86th to 101st on West End Avenue will be installed this fall (2014) in conjunction with the resurfacing (IF CB7 Transportation Committee votes yes tonight, and IF CB7 full Board votes yes on September 2nd).

    I agree that there should be loading/unloading zones for passenger pick up/drop off and for commercial vehicles.

    A more robust plan would be great but that will not happen when it is a hurdle just to get a wimpy plan like this approved by the local community board.

  • neroden

    This is not acceptable. 13′ parking lanes specifically designed to encourage illegal double-parking? Replace that with a normal parking lane and a bike lane…

  • neroden

    The idea of “broken windows” seems to be that the cops will break windows, as far as I can tell.

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