DOT Plans Changes for UWS Intersections After Pedestrian Deaths [Updated]

Video: Barron Lerner, uncle of Cooper Stock, speaks at last night’s CB 7 forum.

Update: DOT’s presentation on the intersection of Broadway and W. 96th Street is here.

DOT last night presented proposals to improve conditions for pedestrians in an area of the Upper West Side where three people were killed by motorists in January.

The Community Board 7 forum was packed with residents and electeds, who are looking to the city to take action in the wake of the deaths of Cooper Stock, Alexander Shear, and Samantha Lee.

At 96th and Broadway, where Shear was struck by the driver of a tour bus, the biggest change would be a ban on left turns from Broadway by southbound drivers, and the addition of a crosswalk linking Broadway’s center medians north and south of 96th, according to CB 7 member Ken Coughlin.

There is a subway entrance in the middle of Broadway on the south side of the intersection, a project that precipitated the removal of a significant amount of sidewalk space. Coughlin told Streetsblog pedestrians at the northwest corner of the intersection can be forced to wait almost two minutes to reach the subway entrance, since they have to cross both 96th Street and Broadway.

In addition to reducing conflicts between pedestrians and turning drivers, Coughlin says “The new plan gives pedestrians a second option, to cross in the middle, and cuts the wait way down.” Left turns from northbound Broadway onto 96th would still be allowed, Coughlin says.

“These [southbound] turns are currently very dangerous for pedestrians because the turn phase starts before those crossing 96th on the east side of Broadway get their walk signal,” says Coughlin. “Seeing traffic on 96th stopped for a red, many pedestrians start walking, unaware that turning traffic is coming toward them to their left.”

At W. 97th Street and West End Avenue, Gothamist reports that DOT has increased the leading pedestrian interval from six to 12 seconds, will be adding “yield to pedestrians” signage, and will consider adjusting signal times on 97th from Amsterdam Avenue to Riverside Drive. Most important, DOT will daylight the intersection by removing three parking spots, according to Gothamist.

Cooper Stock and his father were hit by a cab driver in the crosswalk at W. 97th Street and West End Avenue three weeks ago. Barron Lerner, Stock’s uncle, spoke at last night’s hearing. “We loved Cooper so much and miss him beyond words,” said Lerner. “He was the happiest person in the history of either of our families, and he was killed at age nine. We beg you, please do not let politics, bureaucracy, and interest group squabbling prevent meaningful reform in the name of Cooper and the other innocent victims of reckless and careless and distracted drivers.”

Coughlin said Inspector Nancy Barry, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct, announced that in addition to jaywalking tickets, officers were writing many more citations to drivers for violations including failure to yield. The precinct summonsed 260 drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians in all of 2013, and wrote just 58 speeding tickets.

Lerner also spoke about enforcement. “While we are all for interventions that get cyclists and walkers to follow the law, the fact is that cyclists and walkers do not kill innocent people crossing the street legally,” he said. “Cars driven by reckless and distracted drivers do. Let’s not lose sight of what the urgent public health issue is here.”

We’ve asked DOT for a PDF of last night’s presentation and will link to it here when we hear back.