UPPER WEST SIDE — Pedestrians need to pay better attention to avoid traffic crashes after a spate of recent accidents in the neighborhood, top brass at the 20th Precinct told community members Monday.
Four out of the five traffic accidents involving pedestrians that have occurred this year in the 20th Precinct — which spans from West 59th Street to West 86th Street, between Central Park West and the Hudson River — have been caused by pedestrians stepping out into intersections against the light, an officer said.
The four accidents, none of which were fatal, happened between 5:50 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., a busier time of the day when those on foot are often in a rush, said Sgt. Felicia Montgomery, who manages traffic and pedestrian safety at the precinct.
"That’s people running out and being struck. They’re actually standing in intersections," she said.
"The big push this year is [lowering] pedestrian accidents," she added.
Three pedestrians — including a 9-year-old boy and 73-year-old man — have been fatally struck so far this year in crashes that occurred north of the 20th Precinct, forcing locals to call for immediate changes at problematic intersections. In the case of the 9-year-old, a driver failed to yield as he and his father crossed the street, authorities said.
Statistics from the 20th Precinct showed there were three intersections that had a high incidence of pedestrian accidents in 2013: West 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue.
At these intersections, the NYPD will soon be hanging paper signs cautioning pedestrians to look carefully when crossing the street and to stay aware of traffic, precinct police said.
"You see people, they’re not paying attention," said the 20th Precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Michael Falcon. "They’re looking at their phones."
Falcon also said he often sees people make poor choices about when to cross the street.
"You see people with babies and there’s two seconds [on the countdown clock], and they’re going," he said. "It’s mind-boggling the things that people do."
Community members agreed that the jaywalking mindset of New Yorkers had to change.
"My own personal opinion is that we have become slightly too much of a jaywalk-friendly city," said Ian Alterman, president of the precinct's Community Council. "They’re looking at their phones."
While Falcon said there would be more of a police presence at dangerous intersections, he added that the public also has to do its part.
"We have to educate pedestrians and enforce our intersections that are bad," he said. "I can’t have a [police] car at every intersection."