Monday, December 22, 2014

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UWS Intersection Gets "Vision Zero" Safety Makeover

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Major safety improvements have come to one of the city's busiest intersections.

West 96th Street and Broadway has been redesigned as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero" plan to reduce traffic deaths.

There's a new traffic pattern in place, including re-timed lights and a ban on left turns.

The intersection has traffic heading in four directions, and a high volume of pedestrians thanks to a subway station in the median.

"These enhancements now mean more walk time for pedestrians and fewer frustrated seconds clustered on a corner waiting for a light to change," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 had mixed reactions to the changes.

"It's easier to cross the street. I think it's a good idea. Something had to be done, it's been very dangerous," said one pedestrian.

I think it's more safer you know, but those who drive in cars. But for pedestrians it kind of a little hassle," said another pedestrian.

"This crosswalk right smack in the middle of this intersection, I don't think is a really good idea. I'd probably grade it a 'C' if anything. I thought that the traffic flow before was fine, it's just that people were just ignoring the lights and just crossing, you know, wherever they saw fit," noted a third pedestrian.

Physical changes aside, people's behavior may be the hardest thing to change. In the course of 15 minutes on Tuesday NY1 witnessed two drivers blocking the crosswalk, one of them putting on makeup. NY1 also saw pedestrians walking and texting without looking up, crossing against the light, or just standing in the street instead of the sidewalk.

The NYPD is trying to change all that. There is a cell phone/texting and failure to yield crackdown this week, and next week officers will be cracking down on those who are speeding.

"We expect for the motorists to slow down, we want them to slow down and people who are speeding definitely slow down and to our pedestrians that they yield, pay attention and don't assume they are seen by motor vehicles crossing the street," said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan.

Two pedestrians were killed at West 96th and Broadway in January, and the intersection has seen dozens of injuries since 2008.

In addition to the new intersection changes, the city is also lowering the speed limit to 25 mph along an eight-mile stretch of Broadway from Columbus circle to 222nd Street. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP