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Lincoln Center an Accident Hotspot for Pedestrians

Police say there was a 14 percent increase in pedestrian accidents in the 20th Precinct in 2011, and Lincoln Center was a problem area.
Police say there was a 14 percent increase in pedestrian accidents in the 20th Precinct in 2011, and Lincoln Center was a problem area.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — Crime is down on the Upper West Side, but that doesn't mean the streets are any safer.

While the 20th Precinct had the biggest reduction in crime in the entire city in 2011, the neighborhood saw a 14 percent surge in pedestrian accidents and injuries between 2011 and 2010, police said at a recent 20th Precinct Community Council meeting.

Cops named Lincoln Center as a problem area — there were 19 accidents involving pedestrians near the performing arts complex and in the surrounding one-block area last year, a police source said.

Overall in the 20th Precinct, there were 107 pedestrian accidents and 114 injuries in 2011. The 20th Precinct covers West 59th to 86th Street, between Central Park and the Hudson River. Lincoln Center sits between West 62nd and West 66th streets at the bustling confluence of Broadway and Columbus Avenue.

Data on exactly when and where the 19 accidents around Lincoln Center happened in 2011 wasn't immediately available.

Lincoln Center spokeswoman Betsy Vorce said she couldn't comment on the 2011 statistics, but noted there had been only two pedestrian accidents in the vicinity of Lincoln Center this year.

"The safety of our visitors is of paramount importance...While anything is regrettable, this number is minimal," Vorce said in an email.

People who work in the area said they hadn't noticed an uptick in accidents, but the numbers weren't too surprising given the volume of cars and people traveling through the neighborhood.

Already a popular destination for opera lovers and theater fans, the area has seen more foot traffic recently with big events like Fashion Week, which takes place in February and September, drawing thousands of visitors.

"There are lots of people getting in and out of cars, limos, cabs, to go to the opera, and it's a big expanse where three streets merge," said a Metropolitan Opera stagehand.

An employee at the nearby Raymour & Flanigan furniture store said police seem to be active in the area, pulling over drivers almost every day at the corner of West 66th Street and Broadway.

"That corner is very active, it gets congested," said a doorman in a Broadway apartment building who has a direct view of the northwest corner of West 66th Street and Broadway. The intersection gets especially busy in the mornings and afternoons when kids are streaming to and from nearby LaGuardia and Martin Luther King, Jr. high schools, he said.

A greeter at P.J. Clarke's, the restaurant closest to Lincoln Center, said he sees throngs of people come out of Lincoln Center every night, but he's never seen an accident.

"When the shows let out, people are rushing to get to the trains or get to the restaurants," he said. "It's a mob of people, but it clears out pretty fast."

The city's Department of Transportation is in the process of studying the entire Upper West Side, and recently unveiled a set of recommended safety fixes.

The recommendations include adding more bike parking near Lincoln Center, and installing a special lane where cabs and other for-hire vehicles could park between 7 p.m. and midnight directly across from Lincoln Center on Columbus Avenue between West 63rd and 64th Streets.