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96th St. Corner Where Professor Was Killed by Biker is Unsafe, Police Say

By Emily Frost | January 21, 2016 6:42pm
 Thomas McAnulty, 73, was a sculptor and a teacher who mentored and touched many students' lives, his friends and family said.
Thomas McAnulty, 73, was a sculptor and a teacher who mentored and touched many students' lives, his friends and family said.
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McAnulty Family

UPPER WEST SIDE — The intersection where a longtime resident was struck and killed by a motorcyclist last week has poor lighting and infrastructure problems that may have contributed to the 73-year-old's death, police said.

Thomas McAnulty — a beloved art professor and sculptor, who is survived by his wife of 46 years, two adult children and four grandchildren — was hit by the motorcyclist on Jan. 14 while crossing from the southeast corner of West 96th Street at Amsterdam Avenue, police said. 

The motorcyclist, who has not yet been charged with any crime, was traveling eastbound from Broadway when he hit McAnulty, who was crossing without the walk light, police said at a meeting Wednesday.

The severity of his injuries led his family to suspect the driver was speeding at the time, his son said. 

But police do not have any video of the crash, nor any evidence the motorcyclist was speeding, they said.

He also passed a Breathalyzer test at the scene, they said. 

Police are waiting for the collision investigation unit to review video from the intersection of Broadway and West 96th Street that may help investigators determine whether the driver was speeding, based on the time of the crash.

"With the measurements, computations and analysis by the highway unit, they’ll be able to prove whether the motorist showed due care or not," said Deputy Inspector Marlon Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct. 

In surveying the intersection where the crash occurred, police determined that it could be better lit, he added. 

On the southeast corner of West 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, "there is scaffolding... that did lend itself to additional darkness where the pedestrian was coming out of," Larin said.

Police are asking the Department of Transportation to add more lighting at the intersection and also to redo the traffic light's signal timing at the intersection so that vehicles don't get back-to-back green light at Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue heading eastbound on 96th Street.

They're also asking that the DOT re-paint all of the crosswalk and pavement markings at the intersection, Larin said. 

The West 96th Street corridor counts the majority of the precinct's hot spots for collisions, with the most crashes in the neighborhood happening along that street, between Central Park West and Riverside Drive.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 6, 2015, there were 24 crashes at the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue and West 96th Street, tying it with Columbus Avenue and West 97th Street for the second-most crashes at an intersection in the precinct.

Officers theorized that there are more vehicles taking this crosstown route, as it's one of the only ways to get from the Hudson River to the East River without making any turns or getting rerouted, Larin said. 

As part of its 72-hours post-crash plan, officers paid special attention to the intersection, handing out 131 summonses to drivers for breaking rules and arresting three people for driving while intoxicated and four for driving with a suspended license, police said.

They also handed out 250 fliers to people at the intersection outlining the goals of Vision Zero and encouraging safety. 

Residents told officers Wednesday that they're very worried about the intersection of West 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

"That southeast corner of Amsterdam is a very hazardous corner," said Michael Slepian, who lives nearby. "There are cars going north; there are people trying to cross ahead of the cars." 

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said it would evaluate any requests from the NYPD at the location and conduct its own review of the intersection to see if safety improvements are feasible.

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