Next Week: DOT to Preview Ped Safety Improvements for 96th and Broadway

The public will hear from DOT next week at a Community Board 7 meeting on proposed improvements at Broadway and 96th Street, after three pedestrians were fatally struck by drivers at or near the intersection this month.

“Safety is our top priority and we are actively identifying and evaluating a range of options for the area,” said DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel in an email. “As we mentioned last week, we are developing a proposal with pedestrian safety enhancements for the intersection of West 96th Street and Broadway, and will present it to Community Board 7 as soon as possible.”

The last major change to this stretch of Broadway came when DOT hacked away nine feet of sidewalk as part of a project that added a new subway entrance in the middle of the street. Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton interviewed pedestrians about crowded conditions on Broadway for Streetfilms when that plan was revealed in 2006, when Iris Weinshall was DOT commissioner.

There were 73 pedestrian and cyclist injuries at Broadway and 96th between 1995 and 2009, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat. NYPD data mapped by NYC Crashmapper showed 72 crashes there from August of 2011 through October 2013, an average of 2.67 crashes per month. Eight pedestrians and four vehicle occupants were injured at the intersection during that period.

The area got the attention of Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton when a spate of crashes resulted in the deaths of pedestrians Alexander Shear, Samantha Lee, and Cooper Stock. Shear was struck by an MTA bus driver at Broadway and 96th; Lee was hit by an ambulance driver on 96th between Broadway and West End Avenue; and 9-year-old Stock and his father were run over by a cab driver at West End Avenue and 97th Street.

Residents and electeds last week demanded safer streets at a vigil for Stock and Shear. Unfortunately, the city’s response to this point has been to focus on the behavior of those who are being injured and killed. At a CompStat meeting this morning, Bratton again praised the 24th precinct for “taking action” and doing an “excellent job” by ticketing pedestrians at Broadway and 96th. De Blasio made similar comments after the precinct summonsed 18 pedestrians and five motorists last weekend, when a senior ended up bloodied and criminally charged after he was stopped by police for crossing against the signal.

“It will take time to fix that very dangerous intersection,” Bratton said, according to the NYPD Twitter feed.

In 2008, the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign composed the “Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets,” a 51-page plan for improving neighborhood streets for walking and biking. The document was produced in consultation with Jan Gehl and Donald Shoup, and drew on concepts already in use by DOT.

Image from the 2008 "Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets," by the ## West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign##
Proposed street design from the 2008 “Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets,” by the ## West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign##

Said Thomas DeVito, T.A. Manhattan organizer, in an emailed statement to Streetsblog:

“It’s encouraging to see that CB7 and DOT are being responsive in the wake of these tragedies. If anything has been made clear, it’s that the community itself has a lot to say about 96th Street and other dangerous corridors in the district. Hopefully the one silver lining that can emerge from these painful incidents is a reinvigorated, pro-active approach to pedestrian and cycling safety issues. The time has come for leadership at both the city and community level to emphasize — and prioritize — the safety of our streets most vulnerable users.”

Next week’s meeting [PDF] will be held on Thursday, January 30, at Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue at W. 88th Street, at 6 p.m.

  • Jonathan R

    Perhaps Margaret Forgione, the Manhattan DOT rep, can use the opportunity of the public meeting to comment publicly on the Streets Renaissance proposal that Brad has cited in this informative article.

  • Mark Walker

    This discredits the concept that if you give pedestrians a few feet more space (around the station house) you have to take it away somewhere else. It just bottlenecks pedestrian traffic in a neighborhood where car-free households are a super-majority. Maybe our community board would like to explain why they approved this atrocity in the first place.

  • JK

    It was a terrible decision by DOT to chop nine feet of sidewalk from the already incredibly crowded sidewalks on Broadway at 96th street. The west side of Bway and 96th is intolerable: pedestrians spill off the curb into heavy streams of turning cars and trucks. Moreover, 96th between Riverside Drive and Columbus is a head-on collision between pedestrian safety and traffic flow. It is really miserable and dangerous at every intersection. This is a test of Vision Zero. Is it real?

  • Making changes to 96th and Broadway would be a good start, but the DOT really needs to examine the entire street network in that area. 97th, which takes on traffic from the Central Park Transverse, and 95th, which leads off the HHP, are also heavy with traffic. WEA and Amsterdam have heavy traffic in that area as well.

  • Archives rule!

  • HSkate

    Small nit to pick. Broadway @ 96 is in the 24th Precinct, not the 26th.

  • Brad Aaron

    Fixed. Thanks.

  • Maggie

    How I would love to see those bike lanes down the Broadway median to Columbus Circle.

    “Excellent job” by the 24th Precinct – yeah? How many more unchecked red-light runners, jaywalking tickets handed out like skittles, no-criminality pedestrian deaths, and bloody octogenarians on the cover of the NY Post, who will almost certainly file a lawsuit against the city, before that gets upgraded to “really really FANTASTIC”?

  • Andrew

    I’m glad the situation is being studied, but this is the solution to the wrong problem.

    As I pointed out a few days ago, there is a major subway station in the middle of the street, and the vast majority of people crossing here are going to and from the subway. One important contributor to the problem is the unnecessarily short east-west crossing phases and the total lack of a north-south phase between the two medians, even though most users of this station entrance are coming from and going to points north of 96th. (The station has two other exits to the south, capturing most of the south-of-96th market.) Another problem is the narrow sidewalks. And a third problem, by no means unique to this location, is that drivers break the law with impunity, especially going west, down the hill toward the highway.

    So the proposed solution is to ignore the existence of the subway station and to put in … bike lanes?! Aside from not addressing the actual problems here, a bike lane in the Broadway median would be obstructed every other block by motor vehicles waiting to turn left. (Ban left turns at every intersection? Then, in addition to the general traffic engineering issues, four bus lines have to be rerouted.) This may be a solution to something, but it’s not a solution to the problem at hand.

    And, by the way, Shear was killed by a Shafer Tour bus driver, not an MTA bus driver.

  • Maggie

    Fair point, that would be a huge conflict, or probably very expensive reengineering to move the subway station exits back over to the corners. Typical New Yorker, I just thought about my own personal commute which starts south of 96th street.

    I do spend a lot of time asking myself how bike lanes could work on Broadway though. How could you ever get one past Fairway? IDK

  • ohnonononono

    Totally agree, and I wonder about the planning process for the redesign of the subway station. The station used to have exits directly onto the sidewalks on either side of Broadway. Why on earth would so many people think it’s acceptable to reduce this down to a single north-bound exit in the middle of the traffic island?!

  • thomas040

    is this a result of the new administration, or has this been planned before with the bloomberg administration?

  • Andrew

    The old entrances, which required going down two flights and up one, were small and congested, and they obviously didn’t meet ADA standards. The point of the headhouse was to solve both problems.

    Unfortunately, the Weinshall DOT insisted on three through lanes in each direction plus a northbound left turn lane. In order to make everything fit, the sidewalks (which the Weinshall DOT didn’t care about) had to be narrowed.

    Which left no room for the sidewalk staircases.

    It was a bad plan from the start.


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