west end redesign

The city plans a complete redesign West End Avenue from 70th street to 107th to make the streets safer after a series of pedestrian deaths in the area, but locals are already questioning the proposed design.

The plan developed by the Department of Transportation would reduce the number of lanes from four to two, with a turning lane on each block for left-hand turns. The parking lane would be extended to accommodate double-parked cars and delivery trucks. At 95th and 97th streets — particularly problematic intersections where pedestrians were killed this year — the DOT would install pedestrian islands. Southbound left turns would be banned from West End on 95th, and northbound lefts would be banned on 97th.

The plan got a mixed reception at a meeting last month. — some people wanted more pedestrian islands and others questioned why DOT is essentially condoning double-parking. Neighborhood in the Nineties notes that the plan doesn’t address the huge influx of cars getting onto and off of the Henry Hudson Parkway in the mid-90’s. Locals will get another chance to learn about it on Tuesday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Community Board offices, 250 West 87th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue). Read the plan below or download the pdf at this link.

2014 07 31 West End Ave Public Meeting

NEWS | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Cato says:

      Phew! For a minute there I thought someone had proposed that the City enforce the existing traffic laws.

      Instead we’re getting official Hamptonite Sunday evening double-parking lanes and left turn lanes that the SUVs can now plough through. (Of course they’ll continue to swerve through the on-coming lane when making the left *onto* West End, which is what killed the most recent pedestrian victim, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?)

      I guess the best way to get people to stop violating the existing laws is simply to remove, or at least officially ignore, those laws.

      And voila’! No more law-breaking drivers!

      Sounds like a plan to me.

      • Jeremy says:

        I think one of the pedestrian islands will be at that 95th street intersection, which will prevent the crossing into the oncoming lane when making the left on to WEA.

      • meech says:

        Exactly. The root of the problem here is lack of enforcement by the NYPD around the HHP access points. I see cars sailing all the time over the speed limit, making rights on reds, or nearly clipping pedestrians while turning (those from the suburbs rarely encounter pedestrians in crosswalks at home, it’s like the freak out when they do).

        The problem is with the NYPD and their macho culture — where officers believe enforcing traffic laws is beneath them. The NYPD needs to retrain officers and get them out of their squad cars (in which they also speed and blow through lights unnecessarily) and encourage them to enforce the laws on the books.

    2. Pumpkinpie says:

      And of course it’s 1492 and when you sail south of 70th Street to, say 59th or 57th Streets, you sail right off the face of the flat earth into the terrifying abyss of nothing and doom where dragons and hideous sea monsters thrive. Let’s see. There’s massive Lincoln Towers, the Amsterdam Houses, and in the past few years a staggering amount of Trump plus continuing, ongoing and various other new development, all bringing in seriously increased pedestrian, commercial, taxi and plain-garden-variety auto traffic. But as we all know, West End Avenue apparently terminates at 70th Street.

    3. AC says:

      Typical city solution of investing countless dollars on a study that leads to more expenditures, when some steady traffic enforcement and simple education on pedestrian/driver awareness would solve the problem at hand.

      Keep up the good work!

      • Nathan says:

        Education and awareness. How cute.

        This is a technical solution to a problem. How streets are designed affect driver, cyclist, and pedestrian behavior. Good design is worthwhile.

        • Felix Alexander says:

          Absolutely true. But the proposed solution is absolutely ridiculous. It does nothing to reduce the amount of space/time pedestrians are in danger and nothing to reduce the feeling of drivers that they own the road. Nothing will be improved for anyone.

    4. Scott says:

      “Southbound left turns would be banned on 95th, and northbound lefts would be banned on 97th”

      Nonsensical statement since 95th is a one-way street where you can only turn right to go southbound while the reverse is true for 97th street.

      • West Sider says:

        Good point Scott. We’ve updated the post to make it clear the banned turns would be from West End, not onto West End. Avi

    5. BZAnne says:

      I agree, traffic enforcement is the main issue. I was at that meeting. When enforcement was brought up, the DOT didn’t say much except that it was an NYPD issue.
      Then when someone asked if there was anyone at the meeting from the PD we were told no..they were invited but they DID NOT SHOW UP. That says it all.
      Also, the proposed traffic changes will not go below 72nd street and maybe not even that far south. And pedestrian islands will only be in the 90’s. When someone asked if the islands will be placed at 86 the and 72nd street the DOT said it was being considered but not definite.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “…When someone asked if the islands will be placed at 86 and 72nd street the DOT said it was being considered but not definite.”

        BREAKING NEWS: As of this morning, approximately 10:40 A.M. ALL of the curb-cuts of all four corners at W. 72nd/WEA were sporting white spray-painted rectangles.

        This means either:
        1) The D.o.T. is planning to modify those curb cuts in some way (perhaps add those little raised dots to help the visually-challenged?) OR planning to remove the cuts entirely, perhaps replacing them with Spike Strips, making these ‘the unkindest cuts of all’ (Hey, it IS the D.o.T., no?); OR

        2) there is a very neat street vandal with a large supply of white spray paint out there.

      • DMH says:

        I thought this was strange too. (No one from NYPD being there). I got to wondering, does no one from the 20th or 24th precincts live in the UWS? Do any of the 34,500 active NYPD officers live in the UWS? Are there (m)any precincts, citywide, with no NYPD personnel as residents? I know we’re all busy, and off the clock is off the clock – but still, as a resident it seems like NYPD wobbles sometimes on reflecting how much this quality of life issue resonates with the community.

        • Lisa says:

          At this point in time, especially given huge increases in housing costs over last 10 years, unless they had moved to the UWS decades ago, it is unlikely that any current police officers can afford to live on the UWS.

    6. marci says:

      this plan is outrageous! Make WEA 2 Lanes then where is all the traffic that should be on the highway anyway go. We don’t want congestion and horn honking on what is one of the few residential streets that have some piece. We need police enforcement and left hand turn signals on major streets ie 86th where the buses turn

      • Nathan says:

        If two lanes results in smoother traffic it could actually increase capacity. Or if the road is thought to be slower by cabbies and other traffic they’ll just take Broadway. Problem solved either way.

        • Jeremy says:

          Uh. Not for people who live on Broadway.

          • Cato says:

            Simple answer: Close one side of Broadway (doesn’t matter which) and make it a pedestrian mall.

            Make the other side of Broadway alternating northbound and southbound — say, northbound between the even and odd cross-streets (eg, 74th and 75th), and southbound between the odd and even cross-streets (75th – 76th). Then the pattern repeats (76-77, northbound; 77-78, southbound).

            Even the SUVs will have trouble speeding through that! And those needing to unload their Tumi’s on Broadway after a high-flying weekend out of town can circle the block, double park — hey, for you, even *triple* park! let’s be realistic! — and zip back to good ol- zoom-zoom West End.

            Problem solved! AND we’ve managed to employ even more city planners, all without bothering the NYPD to ticket a single lawbreaker.

    7. MS says:

      Years ago, the lights on WEA between 96 and 106 were all in sync, so they all changed from red to green (and vice versa) at the same time As a result, if you did the limit, you could make all the light. Pedestrians knew when to cross and cars knew when to stop. Then the lights were changed to cascade up from 96 to 100 and down from 106 to 100. As a result, cars are always blowing through the intersections at 98 and 99, trying to make the next light up (and ignoring the fact that they have a red at the intersection they are in. Before they spend a fortune on pedestrian islands and double-parking ages, how about trying to retime the lights and see where that goes?

      • Eddie says:

        It is not possible for lights to be in sync in both directions on a two-way street. That is why it is much easier to drive up Amsterdam or down Columbus than on West End.

    8. Stuart says:

      Put the redesign of WEA on hold for a year and let the 25 mph law take hold to see if it has any effect. The PD needs to enforce the no commercial traffic law on WEA ( trucks are on the avenue because they cannot take the highway). Outlaw the tourist buses on WEA. Stop the school buses from lining up hours before dismissal (check on 74 – 76 street in the early afternoon during the school year). Ticket all offenders ( hire more police to do the ticketing – people need jobs). Then a public campaign (city-wide if necessary) against jaywalking (crossing in the middle of the block and/or against the traffic signal) and to discourage cellphone use when crossing the street. Hire more police to ticket all offenders. Ticket bicycle delivery people who d not obey traffic laws (riding on the wrong side of the street and/or disobeying traffic lights). I am sorry about the recent pedestrian deaths, but these tragedies do not necessitate the entire redesign of West End Avenue.

      • Lisa says:

        These are sensible recommendations. Hope you will send to Community Board and DOT etc.

      • Eddie says:

        Well said, particularly regarding looking at a phone when crossing the street. If there were tickets issued to people who do this, as well as people who zig zag down the side walk while looking at their phones, the city’s finances would be in much better shape.

    9. Nathan says:

      I don’t agree with the double parking objection. Yes, it’s illegal, and yet it’s entirely necessary in Manhattan and everyone does it. You can’t be guaranteed a spot near where you’re going, and for loading and unloading it’s the only practical solution. (And that’s probably why the cops don’t enforce it.) To ignore reality would be foolish.

      As a resident that lives just off West End, I like it.

      • DMH says:

        Most people and most households in Manhattan don’t even own cars. It’s definitely not entirely necessary for me.

      • Steve B says:

        Double parking is only necessary because we allow on-street parking in the first place, which in a place like Manhattan in 2014 is just kind of stupid. It’s a real tragedy of the commons situation where a few people camp in the on-street spaces rather than pay for parking spaces (yes, real estate costs money and parking spaces are real estate – free on-street parking is free-riding). So that the necessary normal daily activities of people with vehicles (loading, unloading, deliveries, short term service vehicles, etc.) are forced to operate illegally by double-parking and creating dangerous situations for the rest of us. It’s just kind of mass insanity; we’ve all been doing this for so long we’ve forgotten how absurd the system is in the first place.

    10. BZAnne says:

      A number of good suggestions and comments. But that is not enough. Tell it to the DOT tonight. Attend the meeting.

    11. Bocheball says:

      The real problem that no lane change is going to correct is the insane drivers. Having owned a car in the neighborhood and driven city streets, the traffic makes drivers crazy. So when it finally abates they use it as an opportunity to make up for lost time, speeding thru lights, turning corners too fast, and just acting stupid. Cops need to ticket them but don’t and that’s unlikely to change. What might help, are cameras at 95-97th and WEA, as these are the exit and entrances to the highway, where drivers are speeding to get to them or speeding as if they’re on the highway once they exit.
      Think of drivers like the careening pedestrians in a rush who brush past you. Of course, the difference is obvious, you won’t be killed by a rushing pedestrian. It’s sort of an unsolvable problem. I wish they could just outlaw cars in Manhattan altogether. Ok,I’ll stop dreaming.