City Improves Pedestrian Safety at Gramercy Intersection After Crashes

By Heather Holland on June 17, 2014 7:19am 

 The DOT is looking for ways to slow traffic at East 22nd Street and Third Avenue.
The DOT is looking for ways to slow traffic at East 22nd Street and Third Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

GRAMERCY — The Department of Transportation wants to make the intersection of Third Avenue and East 22nd Street safer after finding it was one of the 20 most dangerous spots in the entire city for pedestrians.

A 73-year-old man was struck and killed by a truck at the intersection in 2011, and three other pedestrians were seriously hurt while crossing the street there between 2007 and 2011, the DOT said in a report released this month.

The DOT has installed "Look!" signs to alert walkers to oncoming traffic and countdown signals that tell pedestrians how much time they have left to cross, the DOT said.

The DOT is considering removing a southbound lane on Third Avenue between 22nd and 24th streets in the hopes of slowing traffic, according to the report.

“We are looking for opportunities to make streets safer for New Yorkers, both at the locations in the report and others citywide as part of our continued effort to support Vision Zero,” said Nicole Garcia, a spokeswoman for the DOT, referring to Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for eliminating pedestrian fatalities.

If the DOT decides to remove a lane on Third Avenue, it's expected to happen by next year, the report said.

The improvements were partly sparked by the death of Raymond Dobbins, 73, who lived in Sutton Place and was hit and killed by a truck as he tried to cross Third Avenue at East 22nd Street in December 2011. The driver remained at the scene and was not charged, police said.

Molly Hollister, chairwoman of Community Board 6’s transportation committee, said she had heard from DOT previously that the intersection of Third Avenue and East 22nd Street was one of the most hazardous in the community board's area, which runs from Stuyvesant Town to Sutton Place.

“Our committee is very aware that this and other dangerous intersections need to be reviewed and solutions found,” Hollister said in an email.

Workers at businesses near the intersection, including at Lyric Diner, at 283 Third Ave., said they were surprised the DOT considered the intersection dangerous, since 22nd Street is usually quiet.

"I would understand if it was 23rd Street, because that's a major intersection, but this isn't different from any other corner," said Ari Gerakos, a manager at the diner. "I've been here for 25 years, and I've never seen a traffic accident."

Peter Cooper Village resident Neil Flynn, however, said cars tend to speed and run red lights during the early morning hours. He was concerned that orange construction barricades on 22nd Street have obstructed the view of the southwest corner for months.

"I go by here on my way to the gym at 5:30 a.m., and I see the traffic going really fast," said Flynn, 51. "They're not yielding to speed limits or red lights. The construction on the side street has been there forever. This is a real problem."

DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the construction.

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