UPPER WEST SIDE — Officers from the 20th Precinct, which has been plagued by accidents recently, are crediting a recent flier campaign for a major drop in pedestrian crashes over the past month.
From Feb. 24 to March 23, there were only two traffic accidents involving pedestrians in the precinct, which spans from 59th to 86th streets and Central Park to the Hudson River, marking a 75 percent drop from the previous month, said Sgt. Felicia Montgomery, who monitors traffic safety.
One accident happened when a pedestrian walked between two cars at West 79th Street and West End Avenue, and a driver mistakenly put his or her car in reverse, Montgomery said. The other happened after a pedestrian dashed across West End Avenue against the light at West 84th Street, she noted. In neither case was the pedestrian badly injured.
Montgomery and the precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Michael Falcon, said the NYPD's recent flier campaign urging pedestrians to use caution when crossing the street has been effective in curbing accidents.
"Our education is actually working," Montgomery said.
The signs — which tell pedestrians to wait for the walk signal, cross at intersections only and wait to cross until given the go-ahead by traffic officers — are scattered across the neighborhood on telephone and light poles. The campaign was launched following a series of high-profile pedestrian deaths in the neighborhood in early January, including the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock.
"We have auxiliaries handing out fliers every night," Falcon said.
But not every pedestrian agreed that signs are the answer.
"I think they're largely ineffective," said local resident Julie Kowitz Margolies. "I've never seen anyone read them, nor do I think they're telling anyone anything they don't know."
Resident Ken Coughlin thought the signs implied that victims were responsible for their own deaths and that officers should be targeting aggressive driving and drivers' failure to yield.
"The NYPD should be focusing on ticketing motorists for moving violations that kill," he said.
The department issued 26 summonses for not giving the right of way to pedestrians in February. So far this year, there have been 43 of these summonses issued, according to NYPD data.
In the past, officers at the 20th Precinct have criticized pedestrians for jaywalking and not paying attention while crossing busy intersections.