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Delancey Street Deaths Spur Call for Pedestrian Safety Measures

LOWER EAST SIDE — A pair of Lower East Side politicians urged the city to make immediate safety improvements along Delancey Street following a spate of deadly crashes on the high-traffic strip.

Their call to action comes after a cyclist was struck and killed on the busy thoroughfare, near Chrystie Street, last week. It was the second car-related death on the stretch in the past few months.

State Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilwoman Margaret Chin wrote a joint letter to the Department of Transportation asking the agency to expedite safety improvements, including installing pedestrian countdown clocks along the length of Delancey Street.

“The number of accidents between pedestrians and motor vehicles on Delancey is unacceptable,” Chin said in a statement.

The letter asks for the DOT to review all of Delancey Street — from the Bowery to the Williamsburg Bridge — to develop a safety plan for the stretch.

This year’s fatal crashes come after a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car in April 2010 while walking through the intersection of Delancey and Essex streets, considered one of the deadliest crossings in the city.

A female cyclist died in January 2010 after a school bus ran her over at Delancey and Ludlow streets, just a block away.

Citing DOT records, Squadron and Chin said that there were 523 motor vehicle accidents at the intersection of Delancey and Essex streets between 2008 and 2010, 134 of which involved pedestrians and cyclists.

“The fatalities on Delancey Street are mounting,” the letter continued. “As development at the Seward Park site moves forward, there will be more residential development and more foot traffic in this area.”

The letter added: "We need to work with DOT, NYPD, experts and residents to develop solutions that are in line with the needs of the community, and most importantly, keep people safe.”

The DOT noted it changed the timing of the stoplights at Delancey and Essex streets in 2008 to give passersby more time to cross the intersection ahead of turning vehicles, adding that pedestrian fatalities are down citywide over the past decade, despite an uptick in cycling. 

An agency spokesman explained that it still plans to install countdown clocks along Delancey Street and also noted it has installed bike lanes on streets surrounding the thoroughfare.

“Our goal is to cut traffic injuries and fatalities even further,” said DOT spokesman Monty Dean, “and we’ll continue to work with communities to make their streets safer for pedestrians, bikers and motorists.”