On Wednesday night around 6, a driver smashed into the pedestrian island that the Department of Transportation just installed on West End Avenue and 97th street. The islands were installed to give pedestrians more time to cross and to dissuade drivers from making sharp turns onto West End. Julie Margolies sent us these photos.

97 wea crash

97 wea crash2

97 wea

This is the same intersection where 9-year-old Cooper Stock was hit and killed in January. NYPD Captain Marlon Larin said the woman driving the car told police she did not see the pedestrian island when she made the turn. No injuries were reported.

Photos by Julie Margolies.

NEWS | 37 comments | permalink
    1. sara says:

      I have definitely noticed that the cars are moving much more slowly than before

    2. MrWestSide says:

      It’s definitely safer out there for pedestrians, but street traffic on Broadway and out west (to Riverside) has absolutely slowed to crawl since the structural changes on West Side. Now in the AM it’s cars honking non-stop and traffic backed up distal to key choke points at 95th and 97th on WEA. As with any change to a complex system there will always be many unintended consequences.

      • Steve says:

        Really? I walked by there during evening rush hour a few days ago and there didn’t see to be a major difference in traffic flow.

        The islands are a lot nicer than the previous arrangement — though this story makes me despair that drivers on the UWS will ever get their act together.

        Enforcement needs teeth.

        • Nick10025 says:

          It is the morning rush hour that has slowed to a crawl. The horns pick up intensity around 7:30am (at least that is when i first notice a major change). I live on 102 between BDWY and WEA and we start to get cross over traffic around then. I don’tknow if it is related to the congestion, but CPW has really started to back up in the morning as well.

    3. geoff says:

      this story is telling: the driver said she did not see the obstacle when she made her turn.

      and so it goes for drivers who hit pedestrians. no driver WANTS to hit a pedestrian, but, driving involves being able to see obstacles (which most drivers do). and yet the price paid for failing to see obstacles seems lower for those who hit inanimate objects than the price paid by those who human beings.

      and i wonder: do car insurance rates rise for ensuing years for those who hit humans? i know they do for those who have ‘typical’ collisions.

      the inattention is troubling. i think there is a thread, psychologically, common with cyclists who hit pedestrians in the park.

    4. geoff says:

      when i wrote: “…the price paid for failing to see obstacles seems lower for those who hit inanimate objects than the price paid by those who human beings.”, i meant that drivers who hit pedestrians seem to suffer fewer direct consequences than those who hit obstructions.

      anyone who hits a pedestrian should suffer dire consequences unless there exists proof positive that they are blameless, which is almost never.

    5. Lucien Desar says:

      Not only did the driver not see the barrier she obviously was driving too quickly to have that much speed to have the car jack up like that on the barrier. That wouldn’t happen at a slower speed which she should have been driving at for that turn as well with the weather conditions at that time.

    6. Tom says:

      She’ll probably sue the city for damaging her car.

      We need islands and bollards like this everywhere in the city. Better to have a few cars damaged than another life lost to carelessness.

    7. Harriet says:

      I’m in the West 70’s (on the second floor, where I see all the traffic). The traffic has definitely slowed and many fewer people are racing through yellow lights because there is usually someone in front of them. There is ample room for delivery people to double park for a short time. All in all, I’d say it’s a big improvement. What happened last night is awful, but in really bad weather might have happened, no matter what the configuration of West End Ave.

    8. VLM says:

      “the woman driving the car told police she did not see the pedestrian island when she made the.”

      What the hell was she looking at then? Her phone? Clearly it wasn’t the road.

    9. JLS says:

      I am one of the drivers who uses WEA to get home at night. I would say it is a big improvement. If the commercial traffic did not double park it would be even better. The new light on the 79st exit is the biggest improvement. You don’t have to play chicken anymore and the traffic moves much quicker through the light. Now if we can only get rid of the orange crates that seem to be on every block on the Westside we can live peacefully again.

      • Harriet says:

        Please explain. I really don’t know what you mean by orange crates. I’m not being ironic or critical, I really don’t get it.

    10. Tal F says:

      Look at what her angle of approach must have been to hit that bollard! I’d bet she was trying to swerve around another driver, beat the light, go around a pedestrian further along in the crosswalk, or something else equally dangerous.

    11. Barry says:

      I asked the DOT guys installing those “mini” barriers on the island if they were going to install a pole on top of them so they can make it more visible. They said “NO”. I then suggested that they be painted day-glow yellow otherwise drivers will not see them at night. Put a tall yellow pole there with a sign showing drivers they need to go around the pole. NO BRAINER!!!!!!

      • ScooterStan says:

        RE: “NO BRAINER!!!!!!”

        Hmmm… “No Brainer” could be an apt descriptor for:

        a) most drivers, esp. thus texting or talking while attempting to guide 5,000 pounds of lethal machinery in a dense urban environment;
        b) the D.o.T. guys in Barry’s story; and, of course,
        c) the Dimwits of Transportation at D.o.T. headquarters

      • WombatNYC says:

        Barry- Could not agree more. Very difficult to see . Especially in the rain. Why would they not make these islands brighter and more visable. The trend is the same throughout the City. 9th ave , 7th ave etc

      • Danielson says:

        Drive more carefully or you might hit things like this. A NO BRAINER!

    12. Ken says:

      Better not seeing a bollard than not seeing a human being.

    13. Reader says:

      MrWestSide, you are right. There was never any traffic congestion on Broadway or elsewhere in the area until this traffic island was installed a few weeks ago. I never heard honking either.

      • Danielson says:

        Congestion pricing would help to fix the congestion. Cars are a useful tool, but also such a high cost and burden to society! Driving is too cheap.

    14. DuckDuck says:

      Drove north up West End this morning–have to say, the new traffic patterns are confusing and dangerous. People driving more slowly (great!) but trucks are now double parking in the single lane going north and taking up the entire lane. To get around, you have to drive into oncoming left turn lanes. It was seriously dicey–since you couldn’t tell when oncoming traffic was going to veer into the lane–particularly on a rainy morning. Will probably stick to Amst and Riverside until drivers settle in to the new route.

    15. diane reid says:

      I don’t think this has anything to do with how fast anyone is driving. I drove this exact same spot yesterday morning and it is only because I saw the island being installed the day before that I was able to go around it. At 6:00 am it was pitch black there and the island was not visible at all. I only remembered it at the last second to avoid hitting it.

    16. RSDdweller says:

      Like other pedestrian islands downtown, they need to plant trees there, it’s a bigger visual to drivers, and more likely they will see a large tree than an stout concrete-colored bollard.

    17. Upper West Side Wally says:

      A few notes about the island(s) on WEA and 97th:

      1) Since westbound 97th Street traffic has now become a single lane left turn onto WEA, traffic (and honking) have significantly increased. Two bus routes through this one-way street/single vehicle turn add to the problem.

      2) This morning the DOT was busy installing reflecting poles on the islands. As well as signs indicating that all traffic must pass the islands on the right; a necessary sign because I’ve observed many cars passing the islands on both sides (!).

      3) In their infinite wisdom the DOT has now prohibited a left turn onto 97th Street for northbound WEA traffic. This effectively cuts off traffic for RSD between 97th and 99th Street, including all of 98th Street.

      4) I have serious doubts about the islands in general: although they look to improve safety, they don’t. A pedestrian who has crossed half-way thinks (s)he’s in the cross-walk and can safely continue. A turning vehicle might assume that since the cross-walker is ‘on an island’ it is safe and legal (?) to continue his/her left turn. I have observed 3 or 4 near-misses A DAY over the past ten days.

    18. Yikes says:

      1 month ago that concrete bumper would’ve been a pedestrian…..

    19. Zeus says:

      A month ago, after living on the UWS for 4 decades, I bid the city farewell.
      Just in time too.
      You idiots will live with anything the crazies in town hall push your way.
      These islands make WEA more dangerous, not less so.
      I visited the old hunting grounds this past Monday.
      Entered WEA on 72nd st. going north.
      Took a solid 5 minutes to reach 76th st.
      Gowhere only thet out of there in a hurry and continued on Broadway.
      Manhattan has become a place crazies and the super rich can survive.
      Have fun in the smog fellas.
      I’ll smell the coffee in PA and send you a letter sometime.

      • Upper West Side Wally says:

        Zeus writes: ‘You idiots will live with anything (…)’.
        I do hope people in Pennsylvania will put up with your uncalled for insults.
        ‘Entered WEA on 72nd st. going north.
        Took a solid 5 minutes to reach 76th st.’
        You actually drive in Manhattan and think it helps to complain?

        • Zeus says:

          Guess what?

          Top of the morning to you Upper West Side Wally.
          The people in PA welcome me warmly.
          Thank you so much.
          And yes, I drive in Manhattan.
          Have been doing so for over 40 years.
          I have the right to complain all I want.
          Paid city & state tax all along.
          Never took a government hand out.
          And…if you never complain, it does indeed say that you are an idiot.

          • Upper West Side Wally says:

            And that’s exactly why the outbound tunnels are free…

            • Zeus says:

              Give it a try, you bleeding heart idiot.
              Not all that is Manhattan is the best.
              There is life on the outer bounds.
              Give it a try.
              You may just like it.

    20. Sassy Lou says:

      I guess the installing the island..proves it’s point that drivers are unconscious!

    21. m. m. says:

      If the transportation dept is going to cut the size of West End Avenue in half, resulting in a noisily honking traffic jam each morning rush hour, could you not press the NYPD to enforce the No Commercial Traffic ban on that avenue? In one block today, I counted four trucks–trucks, not vans. And that would include garbage trucks speeding down to the West Side depot. It seems to be the assumption of public servants that the law does not apply to them.

    22. Yoneet says:

      I live on WEA at that intersection. The honking is out of control, both early morning and evening rush and all hours in between. What happened to the fines for honking? We could easily rid the city of some major debt ticketing these jerks!!! We need turn arrows at all major intersections for vehicles.

      Beyond that- you can’t fix stupid. I see stupid drivers and stupid pedestrians.

      If I could afford to leave here I would. My nice little neighborhood is now a traffic clogged, noisy, chain filled mini-tropolis. very sad

    23. Andrew says:

      This driver is equally as culpable as the driver that killed Cooper Stock. It is simply a matter of luck that there was not a human in the path of the vehicle, as this driver obviously flew around the turn without a clear visual. This is exactly the type of reckless left turn (too fast, too sharp) that kills pedestrians.

    24. Upperwestsideguy says:

      I hate to say it but making a right turn onto 96th from Broadway has become a nonstop horn honking symphony,
      97th is even worse. Even at 10:30 at night.But if the cars are moving more slowly I fine with it. NO amount of horn honking will change anything. Broadway is choked for sure. I don’t care if its turned into a parking lot if it saves one other life.

    25. Colleen says:

      Was she a NJ driver?! I ask as I see complete madness everyday with these NJ drivers as I have lived on WEA for the last 18 years. They are out of control! Hate to stereotype but so true.