UPPER WEST SIDE — In the wake of a series of recent pedestrian deaths in the neighborhood, Community Board 7 is forming a coalition on street safety to develop long-term plans for making the streets safer and better designed.
The working group will include five to six board members, and another five or so community members, and is intended to come up with street safety and design solutions, said board chairwoman Elizabeth Caputo.
It will draw from people with experience in land use, education policy, senior citizen issues, housing and transportation to create a cross-disciplinary framework, she said.
“When the tragedies occurred…it only exacerbated the need for more longer-term planning,” Caputo explained, adding that rather than react to events, the board wants to be more forward-thinking.
Board member Ethel Sheffer, an urban planner who led community sessions that contributed to a traffic study of the West 90s commissioned by Board 7 this summer, will head up the new group.
"[The group is] about safety. It’s also about design and the experience of being in the streets," Sheffer said.
She noted that the working group's leaders will be appointed by Caputo. Open meetings that will occur monthly or bi-monthly will be scheduled soon, Sheffer added.
The idea is to broaden the focus beyond West 96th Street, which has been at the center of recent discussions about safety.
"While the 96th Street area clearly is a hot zone and has been an issue for many, many years, we also know there are a lot of other corridors that are really dangerous," Caputo explained.
The group will also draw on differing viewpoints on how to create a more livable neighborhood, she said.
"We want to make it clear that we are working hard on this," Caputo said.