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Bus Driver Hits Woman at Intersection Where CB 9 Opposes Safety Fixes

A DOT proposal opposed by Manhattan CB 9 would slow turns at Riverside Drive and W. 135th Street, where a bus driver hit a pedestrian Thursday. Image: DOT
A DOT proposal opposed by Manhattan CB 9 would slow turns at Riverside Drive and W. 135th Street, where a bus driver hit a pedestrian Thursday. Image: DOT
A DOT proposal opposed by Manhattan CB 9 would slow turns at Riverside Drive and W. 135th Street, where a bus driver hit a pedestrian Thursday. Image: DOT

Yesterday, a bus driver hit a woman walking across W. 135th Street at Riverside Drive, an intersection in a crash-prone area where DOT has proposed a slate of safety improvements that are opposed by Manhattan Community Board 9.

The West Side Rag reports that the woman was in the crosswalk when the driver of a double-decker tourist bus hit her while turning right from Riverside onto W. 135th. The victim was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, according to West Side Rag, and NYPD said she was “‘not likely’ to die.”

A woman who came upon the scene after the crash told West Side Rag “the victim must have had the green light or the bus would not have been able to go.”

“This has always been a dangerous corner,” the witness said. “Vehicles driving northbound and making a right turn into 135th St. rarely slow down for pedestrians.”

In response to rampant speeding and a high number of serious injuries on Riverside, DOT has proposed a road diet between W. 116 and W. 135th streets, with additional pedestrian space at several intersections [PDF]. At 135th, DOT plans to extend the Riverside center median on the north side of the intersection and install a new pedestrian island on the south side, which should slow traffic there.

The DOT plan has the support of local City Council Member Mark Levine, but CB 9 hasn't endorsed it. At its third meeting on the project, held earlier this month, the board’s transportation committee again contended that, contrary to DOT traffic models, reducing the number of traffic lanes on Riverside would create congestion. DOT says maintaining the number of lanes for through-traffic on Riverside would reduce the number of new pedestrian spaces near the General Grant National Memorial.

At the most recent meeting, CB 9 member Ted Kovaleff said pedestrian islands on W. 120th Street should be dropped in favor of angled parking, and in an informal poll a majority of board members present agreed. Kovaleff is the CB 9 member who said Riverside Drive should remain as is because traffic back-ups used to interfere with his weekend car trips to Vermont.

Community board votes are supposed to be advisory, but DOT rarely goes forward with a traffic safety project without board approval.

Levine could not immediately be reached, but he tweeted that Thursday's crash was a "[s]tark reminder of [the] need for safety improvements on that stretch of RSD."

Levine told Streetsblog earlier this month: “It’s all really sensible stuff that’s been succeeding in other parts of this district and this city. I certainly value all the community input, and it needs to go through all the steps on the community board, but… I think DOT should move forward.”

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