Monday, January 20, 2014

Traffic Deaths in our Neighborhood

Click on "read more" below for some recommendations for making our neighborhood safer from Community Board 7.  Read them and then tell Community Board 7 and our elected officials what  you think should be done. 

Community Board 7:

Community Board 7's Pedestrian and Circulation Safety Working Group issued a report in November 2013 with several recommendations and graphics.  (Download the pdf file and then enlarge it to read it and see the charts.)  That report does not include West End Avenue and 97th Street, where a 9-year-old boy was killed and his father injured on Jan. 17, 2014, although Community Board 7 Chair Elizabeth Caputo's letter does.

There will be a meeting during the week of Jan. 20, 2014 including Community Board 7, the Department of Transportation, and our elected officials - Council Member Helen Rosenthal for the 6th District, Council Member Mark Levine for our 7th District, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer -to speed up the proposed changes. Some of those changes and more (relevant to this past week's accidents) are set forth in Chair Caputo's letter and below. 

96th St and Broadway intersection – 

1. Install a signalized and striped median-to-median pedestrian crossing of 96th Street at Broadway. It does not appear possible to successfully discourage this pedestrian movement, and it needs to be safely allowed and controlled. The “Walk” period can be coordinated with a phase for straight ahead north and south vehicular travel on Broadway (no left hand turns) providing safe north to south pedestrian crossing. In fact, this median-to-median crossing may prove to be safer than crossing 96th Street at the edges of Broadway where vehicles are permitted to make right hand turns. Additional signage to educate the public about the need to observe the “Walk/Don't Walk” signals may also be needed. For quicker action, a 
striping with a Barnes dance of 12-15 seconds could provide safe crossing until the pedestrian signals for the crossing can be installed. 

2. Change the traffic light pattern at the 96th/Broadway intersection

Problem: Many motorists on 96th Street (either direction) attempt to speed across the Broadway intersection when they see a yellow light as they approach either the eastern or western sides of the intersection. Currently, signals allow both vehicles and pedestrians to start the north and south crossing of 96th Street before this late east-west crossing traffic has fully cleared the Broadway intersection. 

1st possible solution: Have the light on the OTHER side turn red when the first one turns yellow which will take away the need to race through the intersection. 

2nd Possible solution: Allow more time between the beginning of the Yellow/Red phase for Eastbound / Westbound traffic and the start of the Green/Walk phase for North/South bound vehicular and pedestrian travel. 

3. Immediately inspect the pedestrian crossing on the east side of Broadway at 96th Street. The pedestrian crossing on the east side of Broadway at 96th Street remains a problem of uncertainty for pedestrians and left turning drivers. When southbound Broadway traffic has its dedicated left turn, the pedestrian crossing screen tells pedestrians not to walk. But often there is a delay before the left turning traffic approaches the crossing. Pedestrians just do not believe that the “Don’t Walk” sign is correct. Turning traffic needs to be alerted to possible pedestrians at that point, and pedestrians need to be better alerted to the possible approach of traffic coming from the left. 

Partial solution: A second signalized pedestrian box below the “Don't Walk” box – in red letters – “DON’T WALK - Traffic from Left” - when the left-turn phase is active. 

4. Explore the Nelson/Nygaard recommendation to eliminate left-hand-turns at Broadway and 96th Street. We ask DOT to investigate this proposal and what it will mean for surrounding streets and travel to the Henry Hudson Parkway and the Central Park transverse roads. 

In addition, CB7 is aware of the visual clutter that surrounds the intersection of Broadway and 96th Street, which often obscures motorists’ views of pedestrians. CB7 will take appropriate steps to make sure this clutter is removed and we ask the DOT, elected officials and other stakeholders to help us in this effort.

97th St and West End Avenue intersection and area - 

1. Change the signal light pattern along 97th Street. Many motorists, if they travel fast enough, can make all the lights along 97th Street from Columbus Avenue to Riverside Drive. This creates a speedway, which can be lethal. Changing the timing of the lights so that vehicles cannot speed and successfully make the next light will save lives. 

2. Change the signal light pattern along West End Avenue. Motorists, if they travel fast enough and make the light for a left hand turn from 97th Street can then make the green light at West End Avenue and 96th Street for a quick right to the highway. Additionally, southbound travel on West End Avenue can continue all the way into the low 90s if a vehicle goes fairly quickly and just makes the light at 98th Street. This encourages a speedway in the high 90s along WEA. Changing the timing of the lights so that speeding is not encouraged in this fashion will save lives. 

3. Take immediate action to slow and guide traffic making left turns from West 97th Street onto West End Avenue -  Eliminate the northbound dedicated left turn lane on WEA at 97th Street - It is often empty and encourages left turning vehicles to 'shortcut' the left turn instead of slowing to make the turn. Design and install a well-marked island at this location 
which would require slower turns by left turning vehicles, and install so that buses can still make the required turn. Install bulb-outs at 97th Street and West End Avenue to both shorten the pedestrian crossing of WEA and require vehicles traveling westbound on 97th Street turning left onto WEA (southbound) to travel farther into the intersection before turning into the 

4. Install “No Left-Turn” signs, effective from 7AM-10AM, for eastbound 95th Street traffic at West End Avenue. This will take pressure off the large number of school children entering P.S. 75 during these hours.