Tonight: Speak Up for Pedestrian Safety on Deadly West End Avenue

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

Tonight, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 will vote on a DOT proposal to improve safety on West End Avenue, where drivers have killed two pedestrians in 2014. If you live, work, or play on the Upper West Side, your voice could put this proposal over the top.

West End Avenue serves as a thoroughfare for drivers entering and exiting the Henry Hudson Parkway. It is lined with schools and, as home to a high population of seniors, is within a DOT Safe Streets for Seniors focus area. From 2008 to 2012, 148 pedestrians and cyclists were injured in traffic crashes on West End Avenue from W. 75th Street to W. 106th Street, with 11 severe injuries, according to DOT. During that time, 168 motor vehicle occupants were injured, eight severely, which gives some indication of how fast motorists drive on the street.

DOT proposes to give West End Avenue a road diet, converting it from four through lanes to two from W. 72nd Street to W. 106th Street, and adding a flush center median with left turn lanes, with 13-foot parking lanes on both sides [PDF].

DOT would prohibit northbound left turns at W. 97th Street and southbound lefts at W. 95th Street — intersections where drivers killed Cooper Stock and Jean Chambers, respectively. Pedestrian islands would be installed in the north and south crosswalks at W. 95th and W. 97th Streets.

A southbound right turn lane would be added curbside at W. 96th Street. Parking would be removed from the west side of West End Avenue between 97th and 96th, which would improve pedestrian visibility. A current parking restriction on the south side of W. 95th Street from Riverside Drive to West End Avenue would be lifted.

No bike lanes are included in the DOT proposal.

DOT says the redesign would streamline motor vehicle flow by preventing drivers from slaloming between lanes to avoid turning and double-parked vehicles. It would reduce the number of conflicts for turning drivers, DOT notes, allowing motorists to pay more attention to pedestrians in crosswalks, while slowing turns and discouraging “double lefts” — two drivers turning left at the same time from a cross street into West End Avenue through lanes.

DOT presented this proposal at a town hall meeting in July, where it received a “mixed reception,” according to the West Side Rag. This is a modest plan, but it will prevent injuries and quite possibly save lives. As Streetsblog readers know, Community Board 7 has a history of holding up street safety projects, including a 2013 recommendation for West End Avenue improvements. With a committee vote set for tonight, it’s essential that the board hears from members of the public who want West End Avenue to be a safer place to walk.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the CB 7 office, 250 W. 87th Street. Public comments will be accepted at the end of the meeting.