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TriBeCa Parents Demand Stop Sign After Cab Hits 3-Year-Old Boy

By Julie Shapiro | October 6, 2011 5:04pm | Updated on October 6, 2011 7:41pm

TRIBECA — Even before a cab hit her 3-year-old son last week, Sonia Carty worried about the danger of crossing Greenwich Street at Duane Street.

Whenever she took her sons Ozzie, 3, and Tristan, 6, to Washington Market Park, Carty always stood in the middle of Greenwich Street with her arms out like a crossing guard, making eye contact with oncoming drivers to ensure they stopped.

But last Friday morning, a cab swerved around Carty's outstretched arms and hit 3-year-old Ozzie, his parents said.

"It's a day no parent ever wants to experience," said Richard Carty, 42, Ozzie's father.

Ozzie was luckily wearing a helmet because he was riding his scooter, and he was not seriously injured, but the accident shook his family and renewed calls for a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection.

"I will pay for a stop sign," Carty said Thursday afternoon, standing at Duane and Greenwich streets with Borough President Scott Stringer and other TriBeCa parents and community leaders.

"This is gross negligence."

For years, TriBeCa residents and local politicians have been advocating for a stop sign at the intersection, which is across from the entrance to Washington Market park and is just a few steps away from two elementary schools.

At least 10 pedestrians have been hurt at the intersection since 2000, Stringer said, including a 3-year-old girl who was scraped and bruised after an SUV grazed her stroller in June 2008.

But the city Department of Transportation has repeatedly said that the intersection does not have enough traffic to warrant a light or a stop sign. The DOT can only install a traffic signal if the volume of cars and pedestrians meets standards set by the federal government, and in this case, it does not, the DOT has said in the past.

"Safety is DOT’s first priority, and the agency has already met with the Community Board and set in a motion a thorough examination of this location to see what safety enhancements may be implemented. We have already made site visits to the intersection, which will be studied and examined repeatedly in the coming weeks as we develop a traffic-calming solution that works for this crossing." DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said in a statement.

On Thursday, Stringer called on the city to push the federal government to make an exception, and in the meantime, to add signage and possibly a speed bump or raised crosswalk to make the intersection safer.

"We cannot wait any longer for the gears of federal bureaucracy to slowly churn as pedestrians risk life and limb when crossing this intersection," Stringer said.

"What happened to this child could have been a catastrophe …. What we're saying today is: No more."

Also on Thursday, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan urging the city to take immediate action on improving the intersection's safety.

The federal Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Nearly one week after the accident, Sonia Carty said her sons are both still traumatized by what happened. Tristan saw the cab hit his brother and was screaming from the sidewalk, Carty said. Ozzie talks about being scared and has been playing with model ambulances and fire trucks as a way to process what happened, Carty said.

Carty said the driver of the cab stayed at the scene of the accident and a police officer told her he would have points taken off his license.

Rocco Cadolini, owner of Roc restaurant at the corner of Greenwich and Duane streets, said he has seen many accidents there over the past 11 years and is always nervous when crossing with his daughters, who are 2 and 7 years old.

"It's a bad spot," Cadolini said Thursday. "They're waiting for somebody to die?"