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

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.”

  • jt

    I’m scared even to drive their sometimes – cars go really fast along the bridge above Fairway.

    And angled parking? W T F are they on? Oh, and BTW there is a giant pay garage at 134&RSD.

  • Mark

    We need to see accountability for the CB members who are obstructing these safety improvements. Their ignorance and lack of caring for their neighbors is maiming and killing people. We need our elected leaders to take action to remove these safety obstructionists from our community boards.

  • BBnet3000

    The proposed changes don’t address the cause of this crash as far as I can tell. Why aren’t they proposing changing the geometry of the corner to force drivers to make the right onto 135th at closer to 90 degrees?

  • Reader

    Even this proposed design doesn’t go far enough. Look at the southeast corner – it’s still angled like a highway off ramp. Allowing cars to turn at high speeds is at complete odds with pedestrian safety. DOT needs to square the corners more so that drivers have to slow to a crawl to make their turns.

    But DOT also needs to grow a spine. I won’t hold my breath.

  • com63

    How could anyone watch that video and then say that the bus driver doesn’t deserve to be arrested under the right of way law.

  • Reader

    TWU will tell you that he does deserve to be arrested because he wasn’t in their union.

  • Critical critic

    “This has always been a dangerous corner,” the witness said.

    Agreed. It has wide streets, speeding vehicles, and bad sight lines.

  • Critical critic

    “At 135th, DOT plans to extend the Riverside center median on the north side of the intersection…” by which it means, as shown in the diagram, is a physical median extension, where there is now only a yellow painted median.

    This would certainly help, but the irony is that a physical median was installed there when work was last done on this stretch of RSD, about 10 years ago. About 25 feet of physical median was removed within a year and replaced by the paint because cars negotiating that curve kept hitting the median.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.821441,-73.95722,3a,75y,217.63h,73.63t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1s9_Ghf13cCK0cWs0lHV3ClA!2e0!5s20140901T000000

  • jt

    Touché.

  • Melissa McGovern

    Good point. Something similar to what they’ve done at 72nd and Riverside would help. A delayed light could be an option as well. As someone who has lived on this corner for 15 years, I’m sick of it and just worry that a death will have to come in order to make any changes. I think of that every time I cross 97th and WEA. Why does tragedy have to strike for change to be implemented?

  • JudenChino

    Vision Zero™

  • BBnet3000

    A bad system that does what you want it to is still a bad system.

  • roguebagel

    How many times does this piece of roadway come up? I’ve had so many personal experiences dealing with tourist buses, these guys do not look for pedestrians, make illegal U-turns, double-park, straddle the lanes making it dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians alike.

  • chekpeds

    It is well known that wide angle turns encourage speeding while turning, a deadly combination. The first thing would be to replace it with a narrow angle for the turn, then install a split phase with red arrow. It is surprising that the DOT has not proposed reducing the angle.

  • chekpeds

    These safety improvements are insufficient without split phases signals to really protect pedestrians and reducing the angle of the turn from riverside to 135 th street.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG