MURRAY HILL — An intersection long reputed to be the city’s most dangerous has seen an 85 percent drop in pedestrian accidents since 1995, according to the Department of Transportation.
The spot, located at East 33rd Street and Park Avenue, underwent extensive safety renovations in 2008 after the DOT documented hazardous conditions in the area.
One of the most serious concerns involved people crossing against the traffic signal. Those individuals were involved in 80 percent of pedestrian-related accidents at that location, the DOT stated in a press release in 2008.
To remedy the situation, the DOT added a 10-foot pedestrian refuge in the center of the roadway and expanded sidewalks to shorten the length of the crosswalks.
“This intersection is [now] a model for traffic calming measures,” DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said Wednesday in an email. “Citywide, pedestrian traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels in a century.”
The new figures represent a dramatic change from the intersection’s tainted past.
According to data on CrashStat.org, a website launched Wednesday by the advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives, the intersection has historically been the most dangerous in the entire city, with the highest number of motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists.
The organization found that 175 crashes occurred in the intersection between 1995 and 2009, resulting in 185 injuries and one fatality.
But the DOT spokesman said that data does not provide an accurate picture of the intersection as it exists today.
“This data is a bad, out-of-date tool,” Solomonow said. “It’s like adding up your weight over 15 years: It gives you a big number, but it says nothing about how healthy you are today.”
Lindsey Danson, safety campaign director for Transportation Alternatives, acknowledged that the data they obtained to create the site covered the period between 1995 and 2009 and therefore did not account for the safety improvements that have been put in place.
“Those redesigns have had a big impact,” Danson said. “It forces drivers to behave in a way you’d like them to.”
But other sites have not seen such safety improvements, she added, and the purpose of CrashStat.org is to serve as a tool for residents throughout the city.