NYPD SAYS PEDESTRIANS AT FAULT IN 20TH PRECINCT CRASHES; PLANS TO ADD SIGNS

pedestrianThe NYPD is casting blame on pedestrians for recent crashes in the 20th precinct, and indicating that the police department will be focusing its safety efforts on educating pedestrians, according to an account of Monday’s 20th precinct meeting in DNAinfo.

(The 20th precinct stretches from 59th to 86th street, just South of the precinct where three crashes this year have killed pedestrians.)

Meanwhile, 20th precinct officers gave out just nine tickets for failure to give the right of way to a pedestrian and two tickets for speeding in December, according to NYPD statistics. City stats show drivers are more likely than pedestrians to cause serious crashes: a city study of crashes that caused injuries or fatalities found that speeding, driver inattention, and failure to yield were the primary causes.

So far this year, NYPD says that pedestrians have been at fault in most local crashes.

“Four out of the five traffic accidents involving pedestrians that have occurred this year in the 20th Precinct — which spans from West 59th Street to West 86th Street, between Central Park West and the Hudson River — have been caused by pedestrians stepping out into intersections against the light, an officer said.

The four accidents, none of which were fatal, happened between 5:50 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., a busier time of the day when those on foot are often in a rush, said Sgt. Felicia Montgomery, who manages traffic and pedestrian safety at the precinct.”

Captain Michael Falcon says the big problem is people looking at their phones while crossing the street. (It’s not clear if any of the people who were hit this year were looking at their phones.) An NYU study said 8% of people hit and injured by vehicles were using electronic devices.

The NYPD says the precinct’s most dangerous intersections include 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, 86th and Amsterdam, and 72nd and Columbus. They will be hanging signs up soon reminding pedestrians to look before crossing.

Mayor de Blasio, like Mayor Bloomberg before him, is in danger of sending a mixed message — pushing a progressive pedestrian safety agenda, but remaining laissez-faire when it comes to enforcement of traffic laws. Streetsblog called it “the schizophrenic traffic safety policies of the Bloomberg administration.” Drivers almost never face charges in New York, even when the people they hit die.

So far, de Blasio has relied on Police Commissioner William Bratton’s judgment. Bratton’s NYPD has been ticketing jaywalkers near 96th street, while the taxi driver who hit and killed a 9-year-old boy walking across West End Avenue (with the Walk sign) didn’t face any criminal charges. That said, a Park Slope precinct has begun cracking down on drivers who fail to yield. Perhaps that policy will be tried on the UWS too. And where are those speed cameras we’re supposed to be getting?

Local street safety activist Liz Patek says that the NYPD needs to shift enforcement strategies:

“If the NYPD truly has a vested interest in pedestrian safety, issuing a crackdown on jaywalking is not the answer. They need to shift their focus towards reckless and distracted drivers who speed and fail to yield to pedestrians who do have the right of way.”

Photo by mith17.

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    1. Judy says:

      It is truly infuriating that unyielding cars and bicycle delivery people riding the against traffic or riding on sidewalks never get stopped.

    2. Joe Smith says:

      Pedestrians are forced into the street at times due to overcrowded sidewalks. Sidewalks become overcrowded due to street vendors taking up space, they need to setup closer to the street. Also bicyclists need to be ticketed for riding on sidewalks.

    3. denton says:

      What Judy says. Glad to see my old precinct in Park Slope has some sense. Now, about 66th Street and Amsterdam, I live there. You have two and sometimes three lanes of northbound traffic all trying to make a turn on 66th Street so they can get to the West Side Highway. They could care less about pedestrians. That would be an excellent corner to give tix for failure to yield. Thanks De Blasio for giving us a LA commish who has LA solutions.

    4. John Gibson says:

      Judy and Denton, there needs to be a balance. I find it infuriating seeing my fellow pedestrians act like as soon as the light turns red they can cross when the cross walk still says do not cross. It’s even more galling when a car that has an arrow honks their horn that some will stop and give the driver the finger. Both drivers and pedestrians need to learn to follow the law and the law should come down hard on those who can’t follow the rules.

      • fedup says:

        Thank you! There is much sense that needs to be given into the UWS…unfortunately so many seem to be so entitled that they’re never at fault for anything, which of course is not true.

    5. john everett says:

      I drive north every evening on broadway passing 96th street. Nyc should noT have the subway station entrance in the middle of the street. This is a serious design flaw. I am petrifiied of pedestrians who dart into the intersections. The light paterns are confusing for all.

      The police should ticket dangerous drivers and dangerous pedestrians. End of story!

      • Upper West Side Wally says:

        Yeah, those snow covered steps going down in the middle of the sidewalk; gotta love ‘em! People schlepping strollers, toddlers and shopping carts down those steps. By all means, they should not have built an accessible station in the median. The elderly and less able be damned, they can wait for a bus! Right?
        “light patterns are confusing to all” Huh? Red/don’t walk = stop, green/walk = look both ways – go. Any questions?

    6. pjrod says:

      John Gibson is absolutely correct. Pedestrians are equally to blame as drivers/bike riders. Last night I saw a pedestrian step out into the path of an oncoming biker as if it were invisible. The biker had the right of way but slowed and swerved around him anyway. The pedestrian just kept walking as if nothing had occurred. If he had been hit, I would have been the first person to stand up and defend him. Just an FYI- I am not a biker nor an advocate of all of these bike lanes but right is right. Unfortunately, this is a scene I see repeated in some form on a daily basis.

    7. diane says:

      Three nights ago, a well-dressed, middle-aged woman crossed Broadway at 96th Street, against the light, in front of 3 police officers. I asked the officer standing next to me, if he saw her and he said yes, but that night they were not handing out tickets to pedestrians. The night after the young woman who crossed 96th Street was killed, a well-dressed, middle-aged couple, walked right around the barriers, out into the traffic and missed being hit by a UPS truck by about 2″. When I pointed this out to them, they were quite nonchalant. Shrugging his shoulders he agreed and then proceeded to the next corner.
      Giving tickets to lots of jay-walkers might be the only way to make people pay attention. Drivers are at fault too, but to me it looks like the pedestrians are much more to blame. PS and sadly, I’m as guilty, but I am trying to be better.

    8. Liz says:

      Yesterday at 2:40 I watched as the person (sunglasses and heavy clothing made it impossible to tell if a man or woman) with an NYPD bright green vest who was standing in the 96/Broadway intersection did absolutely nothing while 1/a woman in a minivan turned left against the light from B’way to 96, and then kept trying to cross southbound traffic, narrowly missing an accident; 2/a biker rode W in the E-bound lane and came close to hitting two pedestrians 3/ two cars sped through the left turn (again Bway to 96) after the light had changed to red, causing pedestrians to have to scatter. And that was in the space of one minute. Employee had hands in pocket and reacted to nothing.

    9. Sydney McCutcheon says:

      I think that old’ saying that we learned in kindergarten applies well here: “You cannot control other peoples actions/behavior, you can only control your own.” It is very important that the mayor and NYPD crack down on pedestrians who jaywalk, thereby risking their own lives every day walking into the streets, distracted by phones or glittering objects, cuttong off cars, busses, trucks and the like. If you want to be sure that you do not get hit by a car…. PAY ATTENTION! Take your life into your own hands and do not trust that drivers care about your life as much as you do. Even if you have the green light… PAY ATTENTION!

    10. NikFromNYC says:

      There’s already a death penalty for idiotically walking out into traffic. Are tickets really going to improve on that? Infuriated stress causes heart disease, at least that’s preventable, by being aware that being a busybody neurotic is fatal.

    11. rob says:

      Often overlooked are drivers who fail to observe the red light staring at them when they’re in between the uptown and downtown sides of Broadway and proceed either east or west regardless if they have the light in their favor or not. Signs need to be posted that they do not have the right of way and can only either go straight ahead or turn when the light is green in their favor. On more than one occasion I’ve nearly been hit by a car that didn’t wait for the light to change and this is a fatality situation waiting to happen.

    12. Ruth Chiamulera says:

      I am an native New Yorker and UWS resident who is both a pedestrian and a driver, so I see both sides. There is not one single answer. Yes, we definitely need to enforce traffic laws more, but we do also need to enforce jaywalking laws. Pedestrians in this city blatently disregard traffic laws constantly – crossing against the light, talking on cell phones, darting between cars in the middle of the street. And let’s not forget crossing when the oncoming traffic has a left turn arrow. New Yorkers think the Don’t Walk sign is just a suggestion. Pedestrians need to take responsibility, too.

    13. PW says:

      Establish a goal, set the rules and strictly enforce…..In many civilized countries a pedestrian walkway means pedestrians have the right of way and cars MUST STOP and yield. Typically there are flashing lights, illuminated crosswalks, permanent or temporary cones and signs. Anything that falls short of full right of way and enforcement is bound to leave fault open to interpretation. Of course, this would require a major strategic initiative backed by unwavering political will. But maybe NYC is not really looking to give pedestrians full right of way.

    14. caitlin says:

      OK I must weigh in here. Have lived on the UWS my whole life, work in midtown, own a car (and park on the street), plus i am (in)famous for seeing all sides of any argument, often to my paralytic detriment… however:

      TRAFFIC NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN. And that’s it. People behind the wheel of everything automized need to budget extra time, take a deep breath, and drive at a crawl in manhattan. There are too many adults/children/strollers/dogs at every turn and twist, coming between parked cars, slipping on the pavement in the icy winter, on their phones, not on their phones, doesn’t matter. The simple fact is: car going > 20 mph or so vs. pedestrian will always, always win and usually kill somebody.

      I have seen 6 fenderbenders in the last 3 weeks due to the weather (i have dogs so yes i walk alot plus work in midtown where 3 of these happened). i also actively fear for my life and experience anger whenever i cross 66th and amsterdam, 72nd and riverside, and 79th and riverside. When I am driving i am regularly bullied by people who want to go 40 mph, race through yellow and red lights, and generally make dangerous asses of themselves.

      If someone is driving 50mph on a NYC street their license should be taken away forever and that’s that. When I’m in a taxi that exhibits this behavior i tell them i will tip them if they go slower and that’s it.

      I would love to add up the actual time saved by people driving aggressively. it’s most likely seconds.

      You can chastise people for being absent-minded all you like, but walking down the street should carry a hell of a lot less responsibility than operating a 1500 – 15000 (or whatever buses are) pound vehicle. Please think about what you’re saying when you put the blame on people just walking. And if you ever do drive, please set an example and stay at 20 mph or less. You will use 25% less gas, you’ll be less likely to hit potholes, and you’ll slow down everyone around you :-) teach them a lesson. It might cost you 5 minutes a day.

      • MJ says:

        Couldn’t agree more Caitlin. This is a pedestrian city. Drivers need to slow the hell down. Same for bikers.

      • ELJ says:

        I do not own a car nor do I ride my bike anywhere but bike paths but I have to say that my fellow pedestrians need obey the walk signs. Cars also need to slow down. Bikers need to stop at lights.

        I was walking by the 96th Street subway station this afternoon and there were 2 cops in the middle of the intersection. There were people coming out of the 96th St. station walking right out into the traffic, not caring that they did not have a walk sign and that traffic with the right of way was coming. The cops didn’t do or say anything.

        As I crossed Broadway at 95th everyone but two of us crossed the street when the do not walk sign was on. Crossing there, going from east to west is particularly dangerous for jaywalkers as you can’t see very far around the station and there is no shoulder for the southbound cars in the left hand lane. The woman next to me started to cross while the do not walk sign was on and almost got clipped.

        Things will never get better until everyone does their part. Drivers need to slow down, bikers need to follow the rules of the road and pedestrians need to be cognizant of traffic and lift their heads up from their phones. I am so tired of someone walking into me who are oblivious to anyone else on the sidewalk while they are texting, most likely something as inane as the text messages in the James Earl Jones/Malcolm McDowell Sprint commercials.

      • John Gibson says:

        Caitlin, there needs to be a balance. Pedestrians should not be given a pass if they can’t follow the rules. If a pedestrian is hit crossing 96th street against the crosswalk while the driver has an arrow then it is their fault and it would be outrageous blaming the driver for anything as long as they were not speeding.

      • Barbara says:

        Caitlin: you are absoutely right. As a driver and pedestrian (and long time resident of the UWS), drivers have to slow down. Cars speed down side streets, blast through yellow-turning red lights regularly and there seems to be little enforcement effort by the NYPD for these moving violations. Pedestrians, unfortunately, have to bear the burden because cars will win every time.

    15. Former UWS mom says:

      I’ve been following these articles (3 dead within a week, including a 9 year old boy) and am absolutely stunned that the blame has been shifted to pedestrians. So, the 9 year old was reading an email on his blackberry??? Is that what NYPD will assert next?? I had to cross 96th and Broadway for 11 years taking my daughter to/from both nursery and elementary school, and my heart was in my mouth each and every day. Sometimes we would cross at 97th and West End and I’d be clutching my daughter’s hand while the cars tried to run us out of the street AGAINST THE LIGHT and without regard for the pedestrian’s right of way. It was harrowing and I thank god that I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore. Drivers need to be held accountable, as they’re the ones behind 6,000 pounds of metal, not children just trying to get to and from school with their frightened parents. NYPD should be ashamed.

      • DMH says:

        I agree, and I’d add to that:

        Let’s say as a driver, I’m coming up on a green light or heading around a turn, but a box truck is blocking my way. Yeah, I have the right of way, I know it 100%. But so what? There’s a truck in the way. Am I going to plow my car right into the truck and then tell him he should’ve gotten out of my way? No way! For heaven’s sake, no. This is what my vehicle has brakes for. I slow down, grumble inwardly, and wait for him to move outta the way.

        I don’t have strong conviction on whether the jaywalking crackdown is the right way to end traffic deaths. In a city of 8 million people, we must have tens of millions of jaywalking “violations” every day. If NYPD feels like ticketing these is the right use of its resources to promote public safety… well, I hope it works and I look forward to seeing the evidence. Just glad they are not beating up any more physics professors recovering from open-heart surgery.

    16. Debbie says:

      As both a driver and pedestrian on the UWS, I find that the intersection at 71st Street and Amsterdam Ave. is just horrendous. There is a left turn signal onto 71st Street from Amsterdam and pedestrians completely ignore it. I’m amazed that although there is a DON’T WALK signal, they just keep barreling through. VERY FRUSTRATING as a driver. I know that I myself wait for that walk signal before I take a step. I’m surprised that there aren’t more accidents at that corner.

      • DMH says:

        That corner could really use a “Peds wait for walk light” sign or “Peds yield to turning cars on [don't walk]“. The signals are confusing, pedestrians just walk when they see the southbound traffic has a green light, very irritating for all.

    17. Ellen says:

      The increase in development, residential and commercial, has definitely resulted in a more dangerous landscape on the West Side.

      Defiitely more trucks (luxury folks need their Fresh Direct and UPS deliveries!) and cars as more affluent people have cars and increasingly, big cars.

      But pedestrians ar at big fault also.
      There are more and more pedestrians around 72nd Street & Broadway due to Trader Joe’s and some of the pedestrians(many Trader Joe’s shoppers) are incredibly agressive, essentially walking during a red light and walking into traffic when traffic slows at 72nd Street (DOT’s “traffic calming”).

      The volume of people at 66th and Broadway has also increased over the years and especially with arrival of the Apple Store and Century 21. People literally stand in the street at 66th and Broadway by the edge of the bus stop and will not even move to the sidewalk to let buses pull into the bus stop!
      I do not know how to drive but have to say that the level of pedestrian entitlement, particularly “new to the city” 20 year olds buried in their smartphones, is unbelievable and dangerous.

    18. Susie says:

      “Meanwhile, 20th precinct officers gave out just nine tickets for failure to give the right of way to a pedestrian”

      And there lies your problem.

      I have lived here for 3 years and almost every single day some taxi/SUV/white works van drives straight at me when I have right of way to cross the street.