UPPER WEST SIDE — The Department of Transportation has agreed to change the traffic lights at an Upper West Side intersection that residents have deemed especially dangerous to pedestrians.
Residents have demanded changes to the intersection of West 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue by the DOT for more than a year. According to the site CrashStat.org, there were more than 35 pedestrian injuries at the intersection between 1995 and 2007.
Under the current traffic light structure, eastbound cars turning left onto Amsterdam Avenue are given the right of way, allowed to cross at the same time as pedestrians, creating a frightening situation, said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who along with City Councilwoman Gale Brewer and Community Board 7 petitioned the DOT to change the lights.
"Pedestrians were afraid to cross the street," said Rosenthal, adding that "they were really last in line when it came to crossing."
The DOT has agreed "to provide pedestrian-only crossing time for Amsterdam Ave. at West 79th Street," said spokesman Nicholas Mosquera, adding that "pedestrians crossing Amsterdam will get a walk signal several seconds before drivers on West 79th get a green signal, reducing potential conflicts with turning vehicles."
The changes would be made by the end of August, Mosquera said.
"They’re going to monitor it and we’re going to monitor it to make sure that it’s actually working," said Rosenthal.
The change came after a lot of pressure, said Rosenthal, who noted that the DOT was initially concerned that cars would back up all the way to Broadway if they changed the signal.
"Cars are going to have to get used to the fact that they’re not going to be able to barrel through," she said.