Village Residents Demand Street Safety Upgrades After Deadly Scooter Crash

By Andrea Swalec on September 12, 2012 10:01pm 

WEST VILLAGE — Two weeks after 58-year-old SoHo resident Jessica Dworkin was hit and killed by a flatbed trailer at Sixth Avenue and West Houston Street, dozens of Village residents met Tuesday to discuss how the city can prevent future pedestrian and cyclist deaths at the corner. 

Locals frustrated that little has changed at the site since the Aug. 27 crash said at a Community Board 2 traffic committee meeting that they want the city to make changes to the traffic light and crosswalk timing as soon as possible. 

"Let's not let Jessie's death be in vain — let's do something about it now," CB2 chairman David Gruber said.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick called for signs at the corner reminding drivers to yield to pedestrians, plus longer crosswalk signals. 

"Pedestrians need to get that extra 10-second start into the street so they can make it across," she said.  

A Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency will be receptive to community demands.

"Safety is DOT’s No. 1 priority and we will review any requests related to this intersection that we receive from the community board following [Tuesday's] meeting," the spokesman said.

Dworkin was riding her scooter westbound across Sixth Avenue at West Houston Street before 9 a.m. Aug. 27 when the massive vehicle made a right turn onto Sixth Avenue and plowed into her, police said. 

Her body was caught in one of the truck's rear tires and dragged for about two blocks, when pedestrians and other vehicles were able to stop the unwitting driver, police and witnesses said. 

Driver Greg Smith, of the Trenton, N.J., company Liedtka Trucking, Inc., was charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care, police said. 

"For all intents and purposes, I think it was just a terrible accident," 6th Precinct community affairs officer Martin Baranski told the frustrated crowd. He added that police have issued 93 traffic summonses at the corner since the crash, which is a increase, he said. 

Philip Kassen, the director of the Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School, said he wants the city to consider putting a physical barrier at the corner to prevent cars from jumping the curb, which he sees there often. 

"We tell our students to stand back 6 to 10 feet from that corner because that's the only safe way to stand there," he said. 

In addition to the fatality, there have been 21 pedestrian crashes at the intersection between 1995 and 2008, according to Crashstat.org, a project run by the pedestrian advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, which said it was the most recent data available.

Additionally, there were 17 non-fatal vehicular accidents involving bicyclists.

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