Pedestrian Dies of Injuries After She Was Hit by Driver on Sixth Avenue Kill Zone

Chaos on Sixth Avenue leads to crashes and death. Photo: Julianne Cuba.
Chaos on Sixth Avenue leads to crashes and death. Photo: Julianne Cuba.

The 67-year-old pedestrian who was critically injured when a driver ran over her in a Chelsea crosswalk last week has died of her injuries, police said on Friday.

Melissa McClure had been walking with a friend on Sixth Avenue at around 9 p.m. on Aug. 10, when the driver, attempting a left turn onto W. 15th Street in his massive Chevrolet Silverado, struck her and the friend as they crossed the side street with the light, cops said.

Both women were taken to Bellevue Hospital, where McClure died on Aug. 13. The friend was not hurt badly, cops said. The driver remained at the scene and was not immediately charged. In a rarity for the NYPD, a police spokesperson pointed out in the official report that the driver “was not injured” (as if a driver in a 4,000-pound car has ever been injured by a pedestrian crossing a street).

The crash is the latest evidence that Sixth Avenue is not working for the most vulnerable road users: cyclists and pedestrians.

Earlier this summer, two people have been killed at or near the chaotic intersection of Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street. In June, cyclist Robyn Hightman was killed by a truck driver who initially fled the scene and was given only minor summonses. And in July, pedestrian Michael Collopy died after apparently being hit by a cyclist who fled (the medical examiner is still trying to determine if the cyclist hit Collopy).

Both deaths renewed calls for the Department of Transportation to redesign Sixth Avenue to provide space for the area’s dominant road users. At many hours, cyclists and pedestrians far outnumber drivers, yet drivers are given virtually all of the road space.

“What we need is better infrastructure and safer streets that make everyone safer, especially pedestrians and cyclists,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson had tweeted — and that was one day before McClure was hit. “I want to see plans to improve this intersection immediately.”

Streetsblog reported that six cyclists, 18 pedestrians and 15 drivers have been injured at the intersection of Sixth and 23rd since January, 2016 — a crossing that offers very little room for pedestrians beyond small cement traffic islands between cyclists in the bike lane and the speeding drivers on the road.

“This intersection is all set up wrong. The real problem is the island, it kind of incentives people to walk out and stand in the way,” said Gerardo Valencia. “They should really change it.”

Pedestrian and cyclists deaths are up by double-digit percentages this year. Through Aug. 8, 130 people died on New York City streets this year, up from 108 last year. Sixty-seven pedestrians, up from 58 over the same period last year, and 18 cyclists, up from eight over the same period last year, have died.

Those numbers have increased since that report was issued. Streetsblog will update this story with new information as it becomes available.

  • BrandonWC

    Who is Gerardo Valencia?

  • PJeff

    Good question. Gerardo V is misinformed and there is no island on the side street.

  • com63

    I think they were talking about an island at 23rd st. But still confusing writing.

  • Isaac B

    I believe that this person is giving their general impression of the street.

    The “island” is the buffer for the protected bike lane. I don’t believe that it’s intended for waiting people who walk, though it’s tempting to step out there (visibility, head start, boredom). Personally, I’ve trained myself to wait at the actual corner, as being “out there” on the buffer exposes me more to drivers who may go awry. There is the complication that (hate to say it) cyclists often continue up the protected bike lane at the same time as the “leading pedestrian interval” to cross the avenue, leading to loss of that phase for the people walking.

    Fast left turns off the avenues seem to be a horrible and endemic move by drivers that needs more attention. A few months back I walked a bit in the Bronx and it seemed par for the course for left-turning drivers to scatter the people walking across the side streets.

    Why wasn’t this driver charged under the Right of Way law?

  • DoctorMemory

    Having been working in this area for now the last two years: 5th and 6th avenues in Chelsea are a de facto at-grade 8-lane highway, the east coast counterbalance to San Francisco’s equally deadly Folsom/Howard pairing. A speed camera set up on either avenue would probably catch dozens of people per hour hitting 45mph as everyone jams the accelerator to try to catch yellow lights, and probably at least a handful of 55mph racers. (Honestly the only reason 8th avenue isn’t just as bad is that it’s usually too congested for anyone to get any speed up.)

    Both avenues should be converted back to 2-way traffic with dedicated left turn queues and signals at any intersection where left turns are allowed at all, which should maybe be every 4th block at most. And just take at least one lane away entirely and turn it back into sidewalk space.

  • MotoBX

    Left turns across traffic create more conflicts with bikes and pedestrians, not less. Especially when turning across a bike lane where bikes are known not to respect the signal.

  • DoctorMemory

    We’re in total agreement: I think there should be fewer places where left turns are allowed, and there should be dedicated signaling for it where we do allow it.

    (I’m open to the argument that we should just remove left turns entirely in manhattan given the grid arrangement, but I’d love for an actual traffic engineer to weigh in on the pros and cons.)

  • Rich

    Her sister (not a ‘friend’ as reported here) who was also hit seemed to suggest they steeped into the path of the truck to late for them to stop. She doesn’t blame the driver, at least not in this interview. Tragic loss.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-woman-dies-after-being-hit-by-car-west-village-20190816-7cbxzl4vv5aajn7y2kcr6khm6u-story.html%3foutputType=amp

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