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Traffic Study Focuses on West 90s Stretch to Improve Safety for Pedestrians

By Emily Frost | July 26, 2013 1:22pm
 Traffic consultants made recommendations to improve safety at troublesome intersections. 
Preliminary Results of UWS Pedestrian Safety Study Are In
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Traffic consultants advised local leaders to extend curbs, install traffic islands and change left-hand turning signals along a stretch of the Upper West Side that's been deemed dangerous to pedestrians.

Nelson\Nygaard, which presented its findings to Community Board 7 earlier this week, focused on blocks and intersections between West 95th and West 100th streets after increased reports of traffic accidents and near misses in the area.

"Theses streets have been the subject of change, of development, of increased density, of concern for quite a few years," said board member Ethel Sheffer.

The study zeroed in on nine intersections and street sections:

West 95th Street and West End Avenue

West 95th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

West 96th Street and West End Avenue

West 96th Street and Broadway

West 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

West 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

West 97th Street and Columbus Avenue

West 97th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue

Columbus Avenue from West 97th Street to West 100th Street

In many places, the study — funded by $17,500 secured by Councilmembers Melissa Mark-ViveritoInez Dickens and Gale Brewer — found that extending curbs so that pedestrians had a shorter distance to cross the street would make streets safer. It also recommended implementing traffic islands changing left turn signals so that pedestrians would have more time to cross and wouldn't be competing with drivers.

"Speed and exposure risk — the less you’re in traffic, the less you can get hit by traffic — and driver behavior," were the main factors in generating their recommendations, King said.

"The less space that drivers can do strange things, generally the better off everyone else is," he added.

The details of each area's recommendations can be found online and residents can also add comments about their experience to an interactive map.

King added that the community should focus on "what’s probable, what’s politically acceptable" in terms of traffic changes.

Beyond politics, however, some in Wednesday's transportation committee meeting said the comprehensive study didn't go far enough. It omitted, they argued, any mention of the danger to cyclists.

"I think this plan is a slap in the face to bicyclists," said Upper West Sider and cycling advocate Peter Frishauf

But King took the criticism in stride and said that kind of pushback was welcomed. 

"I think that it would be good to have input so the next iteration can show a little more," he said. 

The plans will be refined based on community feedback and be presented again to the board at a later date.