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9-Year-Old Boy's Adorable Video Inspires Safety Improvements at SoHo Corner

 New safety measures at Lafayette and Kenmare Streets were spurred on by a documentary made by a P.S. 130 fourth-grader, Lucas Maxwell.
New safety measures at Lafayette and Kenmare Streets were spurred on by a documentary made by a P.S. 130 fourth-grader, Lucas Maxwell.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

With city drivers honking away, the Department of Transportation unveiled Wednesday morning new safety measures at the intersection where Kenmare Street dead-ends into Lafayette Street.

The safety measures — a 12-second lead-time for pedestrians crossing Lafayette, a new flashing-yellow left turn arrow, repainted lane markings and crosswalks, and a center barricade meant to force left-turning cars to slow down and take a wider turn — are the result of a study prompted by 2014 City Council legislation and spurred on by a documentary made by a P.S. 130 fourth-grader, Lucas Maxwell.

"I get a lot of letters in this job but I rarely get a 'Dear Polly Trottenberg' video," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at the corner with Lucas standing besides her.

Lucas' film was titled "Corner of Death" and focused on the intersection near his Chinatown school where, according to Trottenberg, 11 pedestrians and one cyclist were hit by cars and injured in the past five years — though none were killed.

"I'm happy to say maybe that was a little youthful exaggeration," Trottenberg said of the film title.

Dear Polly Trottenberg - Urgent! Imminent Death from Maxwell Project on Vimeo.

But she added that more than half the injuries were the result of cars making left turns — a move that the just-released DOT study "Don't Cut Corners" found is responsible for three times as many severe injuries and deaths than right turns, and caused more than 30 percent of the pedestrian and cyclist injuries in 2015 citywide.

Trottenberg said drivers "tend to take left turns at a higher rate of speed," partly due to "back pressure" — "cars behind you honking in that friendly New York way."

As Trottenberg spoke, a car honked at a DOT staffer who was standing in the road alongside the sidewalk packed with city officials and news cameras.

"OK, don't honk, sir, be calm," Trottenberg said to the passing driver.

Nine-year-old Lucas thanked City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (not present) for responding when he sent them his film.

"This intersection has always been very scary to us, so we decided to raise awareness and ask for the problem to be fixed," Lucas said, speaking for himself and his 14-year-old brother, who made the film with him. "All these changes are great. I'm so happy that Commissioner Trottenberg watched my movie and made this corner safer."

"The Department of Transportation is awesome, and New York City is the greatest city in the world," Lucas added.

Chin, also a graduate of P.S. 130, commended Lucas as "an example how every New Yorker, regardless of age, can contribute to a safe city."

The DOT plans to install more than 500 "leading pedestrian intervals" — the 12-second head-start for people crossing the street — citywide this year, beating the record 417 they put in last year.

P.S. 41 parents and elected officials in the West Village recently renewed a push for the agency to expand the West Village Slow Zone and do a "Complete Street" redesign of Seventh Avenue South with protected bike lanes and other safety measures.

READ MORE: Officials Renew Push for 'Complete Street' Redesign of Seventh Avenue South

Trottenberg said she had not seen the most recent letter, but the Manhattan Borough Commissioner said the issue has been referred to the agency's Traffic Division for possible expansion.