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Delancey Street One of City's Most Dangerous for Children, Report Finds

By Ben Fractenberg | January 19, 2012 8:44pm

LOWER EAST SIDE — A new study by a transportation advocacy group echoes the Lower East Side community's concerns over the dangers of crossing Delancey Street, a week after 12-year-old Dashane Santana was struck and killed by a minivan as she tried to navigate the thoroughfare's nine lanes of traffic.

The Transportation Alternatives study, called "Child Crashes: An Unequal Burden," found that children are more likely to be hit by a car near public housing buildings on the Lower East Side and in East Harlem than they are in wealthier areas of Manhattan like the Upper East Side.

The report singled out the intersection of Delancey and Essex streets as one of the 10 most dangerous intersections for children on the East Side of Manhattan, with more than 14 children injured by cars there between 1995 and 2009.

While the intersection a few blocks east where Santana was killed, Delancey and Clinton streets, did not make Transportation Alternatives' "worst 10" list, it isn't much safer: Twelve children, including six young cyclists, were hurt at that corner between 1995 and 2009, the advocacy group's figures show.

"We have seen this pattern all along Delancey Street right near the Williamsburg Bridge of reckless driving, of drivers not recognizing that this is a community where children live," said Jennifer Godzeno, pedestrian advocacy manager at Transportation Alternatives.

In Community Board 3's district, which stretches from Chinatown to the East Village, 30 percent of those who were struck by a car between 1995 and 2009 were under the age of 18, the report found.

On the Lower East Side, a crash victim is nearly twice as likely to be a child as on the Upper East Side, the statistics showed.

"This [report] shows us an injustice, pure and simple," said Damaris Reyes, executive director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and a Baruch Houses resident.

"Our kids living in public housing on the Lower East Side, including my own children, deserve safe streets just as much as any other child in the city. The NYPD needs to get its priorities straight and crack down on dangerous driving."

In the wake of Santana's death on Jan. 13, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called on the city to put crossing guards on Delancey Street and lengthen "walk" signals to give people more time to cross.

A Department of Transportation spokesman said earlier this week that the agency was reviewing the request.

The Transportation Alternatives study found that the most dangerous intersection in Manhattan for those under 18 is 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem.

One child was killed and 34 were injured at that intersection during 20 crashes between 1995 and 2009, the study found.

"Streets are public spaces that belong to everyone and should be safe for everyone," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, in a statement.

"Yet, these maps show that dangerous driving has a startlingly disproportionate impact on children in Manhattan's low-income communities. "