Manhattan Council Member Demands Safety Improvements on 10th and 11th Aves

Council Member Erik Bottcher (center) and his safe streets posse. Photo: Dave Colon
Council Member Erik Bottcher (center) and his safe streets posse. Photo: Dave Colon

Us first, Ydanis.

A new Manhattan Council member is the latest official to demand that the Department of Transportation prioritize his neighborhood when implementing its promise of making safety improvements to the thousand most-dangerous intersections in the city.

Council Member Erik Bottcher — flanked by advocates from Families For Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, Los Deliveristas Unidos and Community Boards 2 and 4 — said the safety push should focus on 10th and 11th avenues … for obvious reasons.

“We essentially have four-lane highways running through the heart of our community,” Bottcher said at the corner of 10th Avenue and 44th Street. “These stretches have no infrastructure in place to protect pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit riders.”

Looking down the barrel of Tenth Avenue. Photo: Dave Colon
Looking down the barrel of 10th Avenue. Six lanes of unrepentant carmageddon. Photo: Dave Colon

The freshman Council member pointed out that the streets on the west edge of the Council’s Third District are some of the most dangerous in the city: Between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021, District 3 led all City Council districts in pedestrian injuries (422) and pedestrian fatalities (nine). Tenth Avenue by itself was also a minefield; the stretch between W. 59th and W. 14th streets accounted for one cyclist death, three pedestrian deaths, 96 cyclist injuries, 154 pedestrians injuries and 231 motorist injuries in that two-year period.

The district’s new representative said he’s asking the city to do more than just fix the intersections — he wants bike lanes on the highway-width streets. For him, it’s personal.

“I live on 24th Street between Ninth and 10th avenues, and when I bike up 10th Avenue, I’m really taking my life in my own hands. … I biked here today, I’m telling you I was an inches from the wheels of an 18-wheel truck, zooming right past my head, very unsafe,” said the Council member, whose mother hopefully does not read Streetsblog. “My mother would kill me if she knew what I was doing.”

The bike lanes must include pedestrian refuge islands — and nice ones with big tree pits to further spruce things up, he added.

Is this a highway? No, it's Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan. Photo: Dave Colon
Is this a highway? No, it’s 11th Avenue in Manhattan. Photo: Dave Colon

As if to demonstrate Bottcher’s larger point about current street, the chaos of 10th Avenue was on full display while the press conference was going on: a Target delivery truck had to be unloaded while parked in the left traffic lane because someone parked his pickup truck in a clearly marked loading zone.

Bottcher said that better enforcement around loading zones was the answer to that particular problem.

“If you’re parked illegally, we need to make sure you’re ticketed right away and that there’s not a delay, because if there’s a delay then for the driver, they’ll weigh the risk and take their chances and park illegally, knowing they may not get a ticket,” he said.

Bottcher isn’t the only Council member acting as a squeaky wheel about intersections. His fellow Manhattan legislator Julie Menin recently asked the DOT to fix five intersections at First and Third avenues, including First and 76th Street, where deliverista Salvador Navarette-Flores was killed after being forced into the road because a truck driver was using a no parking area as a makeshift loading zone; Third and 76th Street where a driver killed Udeshi Sundeep; and Third and 61st Street, where a delivery driver killed Delfino Eduardo Maceda and Taurino Rosendo Morales. Additionally, Brooklyn Community Board 2 is working on a list of its intersections that the DOT should focus on.

The issue of what intersections the DOT should prioritize has come up at several other community board meetings since the Jan. 19 announcement by Mayor Adams and DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez that the city would redesign 1,000 intersections by the end of the year. Adams previously said he’s aiming at intersections because that’s where 55 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 79 percent of pedestrian injuries have taken place.

Streetsblog has made repeated requests to the DOT to reveal which intersections will get safety improvements, or to at least lay out the timeline for the improvements. But the agency has declined to discuss it. However, the agency was happy to comment on Bottcher’s call for intersection upgrades.

“Improving the safety of our streets will remain DOT’s priority,” said DOT spokesperson Tomas Garita. “We appreciate Council Member Bottcher’s advocacy, and we look forward to working alongside all Council members and advocates to ensure our streets are safer for all New Yorkers.”

Bottcher said he thinks the new administration will do what’s right for his district.

“I’m actually really encouraged by this mayor and this transportation commissioner and they’re how they’re going to be prioritizing this,” he said. “We are asking as a community that these routes be prioritized among those improvements, and we need to make sure that the Department of Transportation has the resources to address all of these intersections.”