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Traffic Changes Made at UWS Corner Where 9-Year-Old Was Killed

By Emily Frost | April 9, 2014 4:24pm
 With recent DOT changes, drivers will not be able to speed through the intersection. 
Intersection Where Cooper Stock was Killed to Become Safer
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The city is making safety changes at a deadly Upper West Side intersection, where a 9-year-old boy was killed earlier this year, including adjusting the timing of the lights to avoid speeding.

On Jan. 10, Cooper Stock was killed crossing West End Avenue at 97th Street when a cabdriver made a turn and struck him. The intersection might be renamed for him under a measure being considered by the community board.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal announced Tuesday that at the request of residents and Community Board 7, the DOT has agreed to change the timing of traffic lights along West 97th Street to prevent speeding. 

Moving forward, if a driver has a green light at Broadway and West 97th Street, the light at West End Avenue will be red by the time the motorist reaches that point, Rosenthal said. 

Previously, it was possible to hit all green lights at each intersection while traveling west, the DOT confirmed. Rosenthal said the timing of the lights encouraged drivers to speed up when approaching West End Avenue.

"That’s a very big change," she said. "It was something the community has been asking for, and I think it will make all of the difference at that intersection."

The DOT confirmed the light change and said safety is a top priority for the agency.

The intersection might also soon bear Cooper's name, after CB7's transportation committee voted unanimously to support a proposal to co-name it "Cooper Stock Way."

The committee's resolution must win approval from the full board before the corner can be officially renamed. 

Cooper's uncle Barron Lerner told the board that Cooper's mother Dana Lerner is making it her mission to help prevent another tragedy like the one her family is facing. 

"Every day she says using Cooper’s name to save lives is her purpose," Lerner said. 

Rosenthal has also focused her attention on legislation to curb reckless driving among taxi drivers.

Her proposed bill, "Cooper's Law," calls for an immediate suspension of the taxi license of any cabbie who hits and kills or seriously injures a pedestrian while failing to yield. If an investigation finds that the driver did fail to yield in the collision, their taxi license would be permanently revoked. 

The bill is being reviewed by the city's Law Department, but Rosenthal said she hoped it would be ready for a City Council hearing in June.

Koffi Komlani, the driver who struck Cooper, has remained off the road by choice since the accident, said Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission. 

"We are very much on the same page as Council Member Rosenthal with respect to getting dangerous drivers off the road, and we look forward to working with her and the council to ensure that it's done in a way that stands up to any challenges," Fromberg said in an email.

The Transportation Committee also gave its unanimous support to Rosenthal's bill in a resolution it passed Tuesday night. 

Lerner reminded those assembled for the meeting that changing legislation is just as important as keeping Cooper's name out there. 

"A little boy died because the laws are not adequate," he said.