ANOTHER CAR SLAMS INTO THE WEST END AVENUE PEDESTRIAN ISLAND

97 and wea island

Drivers can’t seem to figure out this whole concept of driving around a pedestrian island. Once again, on Monday morning a car turning South from 97th street onto West End plowed into the island, which was just installed this month to keep drivers from taking the turn from 97th onto West End too quickly, a neighbor tells us.

Given that there are several orange bollards at the site now, it shows just how clueless drivers are when making turns onto West End. (Before the island went in, I also saw drivers drive right through red lights to make a left, even though pedestrians now have a “leading interval,” allowing them a few extra seconds to cross before cars have the light.)

Nine-year-old Cooper Stock was hit and killed here by a cab driver in January, prompting the changes to the street. Julie, who told us about the crash, says that locals near the site are “distraught.”

“Another car hit the median turning left at 97 and WEA this morning and took out a reflector. I don’t know more details but it certainly is strong evidence that drivers are still taking that turn at high speed even with the median and the staggered light timing.  As a parent of young children and a neighbor of the Stocks who knew Cooper, I am simply distraught, as I know Dana and my other neighbors are, at the continued treacherousness of our corner.”

She says police need to enforce the law more aggressively at that corner.

“Police presence needs to be increased, and they need to place officers who actually do something. Before the median was put in, they had an officer stationed at the bus stop once who sat in the cruiser while car after car ran the light and blocked the crosswalk and the intersection. When I pointed this out, she said, “They just got  caught by the light.  This is rush hour.”  That is a quote. Not running the light – “caught by the light.”  And then she said, “I can’t stop all of them.”  I said, “How about one?”  She rolled up the window.  I think they should ban the left from 97th and West End during rush hour. This situation is insane.”

The NYPD did not respond to an inquiry about Monday’s crash.

NEWS | 45 comments | permalink
    1. James Panero says:

      Better a bollard than a boy. Shows why more islands are needed down West End, and why the traffic calming measures proposed for West 97th Street by Upper West Side Streets Renaissance need to be implemented. That said, there are other zones that need urgent attention. The swing of left-turning cars to those in the east side intersection of West 95th Street and Riverside Drive is highly troublesome.

    2. Christina says:

      OMG! How stupid can people be. Maybe there needs to be a warning way before the island. Like a billboard and maybe just maybe people will figure it out! Bunch of clueless people driving… very scary!

      • Tyson White says:

        I think it’s more a function of lack of policing than the stupidity of people. The number of tickets issued by our precinct in September for the 3 most dangerous violations – speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and cellphone use – combined is under 6 per day on average http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/traffic_data/024sum.pdf

        That’s as many violations I can spot walking for 6 minutes on Broadway.

    3. Sydney says:

      Speed bumps on 97 will slow cars down trying to make the light.

    4. Jeshek says:

      Let them crash! The cost of auto body repair will teach them to slow down and pay attention!

    5. KG says:

      This means that the islands are working.

      • AC says:

        KG, in few words, you’ve hit on the nose! Wait until the winter season and they’re covered in snow. I don’t live on West End Avenue, but I cross it often. The residents along that avenue got the short end of the stick, as that avenue went from a nice tree-lined, quiet avenue, to one being an eyesore.

        This entire speed issue could have been resolved with strategically placed speed bumps (usually installed right before a busy intersection, or one of concern).

    6. David says:

      Build a high speed bump on 97th street, just to the east of WEA, and build another one just beyond intersection of 97th and WEA. Build them high enough and that will get the attention of speeding motorists. They’ll have no choice but to take the turn slowly – or risk damage to their shocks.

    7. StevenCinNYC says:

      The barriers are not well designed and for visibility. They’re gray and widen at three bottom, with a small narrow reflector at the top, in the middle. They are not illuminated. Depending on the amount and tone of available light, they can be hard to see, especially at the wide base. They should be brightly colored and lit. Failing that, at least have reflectors at three points along the outer rim, that are reflective from top to bottom.

      • Reader says:

        StevenC, did you read this part?

        “Given that there are several orange bollards at the site now, it shows just how clueless drivers are when making turns onto West End.”

        How much more visible could these things be?

    8. Robert says:

      Folks, have you actually gone and look at these things at night?
      They are light gray in color and except for one small part of one of the islands they are no higher that four (4) inches high. The part that sticks up is on the southern island sloping southbound like an arrow.
      Besides the fact that they blend in with the southbound pavement, they are far below the drivers normal line of sight. This is made worse in the fact that there is a large grade change so that the cars headlights to not pick it up at all. There are NO reflective markings anywhere near and/or on the island. The first one was on a rainy/foggy night which made it harder to see. The islands are so low that once we have snow on the ground they will be complete buried, causing even more accidents.
      DOT and our local “self appointed” neighborhood traffic experts just don’t get it. They did this years ago at 96 and B’way, in front of the Time Warner store front. Go take a look at home low that curb extension is, cars come up the hill from WEA can’t even see it, the snow plows drive right over it as it is so low. Take a look at the newest, but surely not the last, 96 & B’way redesign. On the north island they did curb bump outs as well. While these are about 5 inches high, yes I measured it, they are hard to see at night. They have tire marks all around the edges as they blend in to the road surface as they are nearly the same color. Now instead of Jwalking in the intersection people set of these curb bump outs and walk north and south cutting in and out of on coming traffic from 100th street to 93rd street. There have already been several accidents because of this.
      Pls folks STOP rushing for the first fix presented, look at it first and for god sake have DOT tell you in writing how much it will cost before you do it. Ask has it been done elsewhere, how did it work etc. Hold DOT to doing what was presented and approved. They said the bus at 97 could make the turn, will it could not based on the placement of the islands, as per the MTA.
      DOT’s “fix” remove parking on the west side of WEA. Great,now the bus can turn,but you now have a steady stream of cars passing on the right and then making the turn right at the curb line onto the highway. When there was a line of parked cars there it gave people crossing southbound more of a chance to see the cars making the turn. Everyday parents rushing their kids to school rush across the blink red or red light with the kids to get then to school. This am a woman was brushed by a car that had the right of way. She had one kid by the hand and another in stroller, she head headphones on nearly got killed. This in no way excuses the idiotic driver that operates their car recklessly.
      I don’t mean to put a price on a life, an life is precious but of the aprox six people hot and killed in our area recently some have been the fault of the driver, some the fault of the pedestrian and some were just accident were several things came together to cause the loss of life.
      The two curb bump outs at 96&B’way and the paint around them cost us taxpayers over $365,000.00. That want the contractor was paid to do it got. Guess what folks it is the 7th or 8th fix that didn’t work. The problems are still there and a new series of “studies” is being talked about.
      Sorry to rant, on but while its terrible when people get killed, grabbing the first answer that looks good and just moves the problem to another intersection is not the answer.
      That is all that has been done in this WEA redesign, kick the proble down the road.

      • robert says:

        Sorry that should read:
        Guess what folks it is the 7th or 8th fix that didn’t work. The problems are still there and a new series of “studies” are being talked about.
        I said is rather than are

        • Cato says:

          You were right the first time. “A series” is singular, which is why it takes the article “A”. Therefore the verb it takes is also singular, “is”. So “A series [of whatevers] *is*…” even though there are multiple “whatevers” as a result.

      • Jeremy says:

        Please don’t apologize for your “rant” – we’d all be better off if each citizen of our neighborhood took the time to educate and express themselves in the same way you do!

    9. richard says:

      Yet another “new” problem on WEA in the redesigned traffic pattern is that cars will us the middle turning and crosshatched lanes as high speed passing lanes. This will result in some serious head on crashes.
      Maybe the NYPD should focus on enforcing traffic laws instead of their smartphones.
      Also DOT was severely negligent when they changed the traffic pattern not putting up signs to alert motorists of a new traffic pattern ahead. People are habitual and the new pattern is quite different than the previous one.

      • RickyC says:

        Drivers begin speeding through the 97th st. transverse to catch lights going towards the WSH at 96. Actual police presence, radar guns, red light cameras, speed bumps, will all change behavior for the better and raise revenue. Stagger lights at 20 mph, not higher. Next, pedestrians must stop texting while walking, look and listen as well.

      • Rob says:

        It is motorists’ habitual behavior that is the problem. They are not looking for things that might be ‘different’ in the roadway, like a pedestrian.

        Adding uncertainty to the roadway is a well-documented way to cause motorists to drive more cautiously and alertly.

    10. Dear New York,

      Every time I visit your state and city, I am amazed by the number of intersections that give a driver a green light to turn right, while giving the pedestrian a white ‘ok’ indicator to cross the street. This is not logical! Only one person can have the right-of-way.

      I realize that you may think this is efficient and helps keep traffic and pedestrians flowing, but the reality is that it is dangerous and dumb.

      The pedestrian island is a good idea, but was probably only necessary because of the conflict regarding who has the right of way. Stop the traffic, and pedestrians are safe to enter the box. Otherwise, driving and walking too closely resembles a game of chicken. I found this was the case whether I was driving or walking.

      This is an engineering flaw, and the police cannot be expected to ‘enforce’ illogical choices successfully.

      Speed bumps are a terrible solution, btw. The issue is about taking turns. The issue is not speed, but about how many places that one can look simultaneously because the right of way is poorly defined.

      • AC says:

        I have to disagree. As an engineer, I have worked on traffic studies in the past. I’ve been to poor countries in Central America, where electrical constraints prevent traffic lights from being installed. You would be amazed at what speed bumps achieve. For one, it slows the driver down to almost a complete stop. Also, it makes the driver more aware of the intersection, and more importantly, on their speed.

        What the City is not telling you is that they hired a contractor years ago for islands such as these (same clowns that installed them along Columbus Avenue). Favor$ and promise$ of future lucrative contracts still runs rampant in city government. In return, some are getting nice political donations in return. The review of the problem, decision-making, and approval of the solution was as quick as the award to the contractor. All in less than 6 months?

      • josh says:

        You are mistaken about the right of way. A green arrow gives a turning driver the right of way. A green light (standard) gives a driver the right of way when proceeding straight only, but a pedestrian has thr right of way in the crosswalk, while a turning driver is allowed to make the turn only when the path is clear of a) pedestrians and b) oncoming traffic. I don’t know where you are from, but this is clearly enshrined in state law. It is just not enforced nearly as much as it should be.

        To my understanding, it is actually the law in all 50 states.

    11. Anonymous says:

      I’m surprised the DOT hasn’t decided to throw a “No Left Turn (Except Buses)” sign on West 97th Street. By pushing the traffic up to 99th and down to 96th they’d eliminate an ongoing problem without much detriment to anyone.

      • robert says:

        Shhhhhhh
        Don’t tell anyone but DOT has now admitted that MTA was right. Unless the 97st bus hits the sweet spot to make the turn it has to back and fill to make the turn This is after the removed two blocks of parking on WEA to “fix” the issues. You didn’t hear it from me but moving the wea stop from 97 to 99 is being talked about. Don’t hold your breath about it though. I doubt anything will be done until after the edge of the traffic island is covered with snow and there is an accident because a bus or car ploughed into it.

    12. Julie says:

      There are enormous orange pylons completely surrounding the islands, so to say they aren’t visible is absurd – and there are reflectors and a large sign indicating to keep right and pass around the island. But more to the point, pedestrians are less visible than a traffic island adorned with signage!!! Drivers need to stop speeding through that intersection before they kill someone else. If an island isn’t visible at 9:00 a.m. in broad daylight, pedestrians don’t stand a chance.

      • robert says:

        1) The orange cones are not always there. It depends which construction crew is there. On days were they had blocked going north bound on WEA from 96th street that’s were the cones ended up, in a heap on the sidewalk so they could but them up in the am. Not near the island where they were needed.
        2) The signage that says keep right faces only traffic coming southbound on wea and is not visible coming from 97th street.
        I just got home and there is a crew working on the paint etc at 97 and WEA so keep your fingers crossed.

    13. Julie says:

      And a note about speed bumps – a lovely idea, but DOT will not install them on a street with buses. Unfortunately, the 96th Street crosstown buses travel down 97th before turning left on 96th and going back east. Just another complication on that corner that should be changed.

      • Amy says:

        Julie is right- at the CB7 meeting last year the DOT said they couldn’t install speed bumps on 97th Street because of buses. I think they should install them anyway, but that’s the DOT for you.

    14. Rocky says:

      It surprises me that nobody mentions the fact that there is an elementary school and a middle school right in between 95th and 96th street. The problem is not only at rush hour. The kids at the school are in danger in the morning, at dismissal and between 5-6 pm when the after school programs are dismissed. Drivers are aggressive all the time when entering or exiting the westside highway. Speed bumps, medians, not turn signs….they need to do whatever it takes to protect all the people in this community.

      • Jeremy says:

        Y’know, I’ve heard other people describe 95th between Riverside as full of aggressive drivers, still having a highway mentality.

        I just don’t see it. Other than at the actual 95th and RSD intersection where occasional dumdums from the right turn highway exit lane try to jam themselves into the 95th flow, that block rarely moves dangerously (or quickly) at all. You can pretty much count on being stopped for a full cycle somewhere midblock.

        96th is another story entirely, but 95th is an absolute crawl at most times.

        • josh says:

          Sorry you don’t see it, but I have lost count the number of times I have had to step back to avoid getting swiped by a car turning right on Riverside Drive while I had the walk. I have lost count of the number of drivers I have seen accelerate quickly with a rev of their engine, to make the left turn onto West End, especially as the light is turning yellow. I have lost count of the number of cars that swing quickly to the right around a turning car to avoid getting caught at the light, while not checking to see if there is a cyclist to their side when 95 is a major cyclist thoroughfare because of the exit from the greenway. And the number of times I have seen a driver make the turn or proceed through both intersections after the light has changed from their favor is staggering.

          • Jeremy says:

            Uh . . . okay. Like I said, 95th between Riverside and WEA is a crawl most of the time. Yes, some drivers make the right from WSH to Riverside in sketchy ways. Yes, most cyclists bomb through the Riverside crosswalk at 95th against the light, and through pedestrians. And, yes, drivers on occasion will make lefts from 95th to WEA that leave less room for peds than they should. But that has nothing to do with speed bumps.

      • robert says:

        Here is a start to the issue of the school.
        Parents-don’t start crossing WEA or 95 or 96 when the signal is blinking red for you and the countdown clock is saying you have 2 seconds left to cross. Wait for the next green light. Every morning and eve this happens. The parents with their headphones on or yapping on their cell phones while they cross, puts their children at risk as well as themselves.
        Even if car is being driven by an idiot, all the more reason to turn off your *(%$&*$## Iphone, turn off your Ipod,take out your headphones and look up and around BEFORE you step off the curb.

        The sixties are long gone, how about we drop the “I”, stop being the 3rd ME generation on the UWS and start being responsible for our children ourselves and not waiting and/or expecting someone else to do it for you.

        • Christina says:

          Yes! If the “M” in Me is turned upside down it becomes “W” which becomes We!

        • Tyson White says:

          Instead of blaming parents for using phones, talk to the police about enforcing the laws against cellphone use by drivers. The 24th Pct is only giving an average of 2.9 tickets a day. Go out and count the number of drivers you see texting, and let me know how long it took you to get to 3!

    15. amelia says:

      I tweeted 311 & city etc never heard back as my 7 yr old & myself have almost been hit multiple times we track the license plates 90% from out of town. I believe even though at times it feels like they are aiming for pedestrians from 96th & Columbus (they turn on col down 96th heading west to highway against the light even huge trucks) we noticed as my 7 year old screams out the plate affiliation are from NJ & CT. So it might just be they need to be educated we don’t have right on red like where they live. 96& 97th have the biggest issues due to all the cars/trucks from out of town coming off the highway, crosstown etc its out of town residents. Again don’t think intentional I think its lack of education maybe post red signs NO RIGHT ON RED at highway exits on RSD 96/95 & CPW 97 crosstown exit @ 97th (except for the woman driving on bway @ 96th with her head down while her car was moving last weekend-maybe checking texts?) I think its primarily lack of education hope that helps

      • Cato says:

        I’d bet that many, if not most, of the cars with New Jersey licenses seen cruising through the UWS — and flouting local traffic laws — belong to people who *live* on the UWS, and only have some connection with a Jersey address that allows them to get the cheaper registration and insurance rates available there. All it takes is a business, or corporate office, or consenting brother-in-law, with a New Jersey address.

        There’s a family living in a co-op building on my block that owns *two* NJ-plated cars, and I regularly see others repeatedly parked on the local streets.

        The same is probably true of Connecticut. A family that lives, and raised three kids, on the same block has Connecticut plates on its luxury SUV only because of their country home there.

        Don’t assume that cars with those out-of-state license plates come from out of state. They probably belong to your neighbors, who just don’t feel like complying with New York law.

    16. Leah says:

      They should plant a tree in the middle of it! It would look nice and would prevent a lot of problems. Not sure if that would cut off visibility from the light — but if they plant something shorter like a tall shrub, maybe that would help?

    17. Anna Kopel says:

      A lighting sequence for walk only and left turn only would isolate walkers from cars.They’ve done something similar at 96th and Columbus and it seems to be working.

    18. Zeus says:

      Why not just ban ALL cars from Manhattan streets?
      Only buses and bikes can drive.
      All others will walk, take the subway or jog.
      No taxis either. Very dangerous, with most drivers being illegals who not only can’t drive properly, but speak no English.
      Maybe then the locals will feel safe, or – begh to bring the old order back, before the nuts at DOT changed WEA to basically a parking lot crawl, in the name of safety.

      • Christina says:

        Ha! Like the sarcasm! But seriously… this city is first and foremost a pedestrian city. Thus why we have One of the most extensive subway systems in the world. If you take most any block (except maybe avenue streets) and put the the sidewalks on either side of street it would be a lot larger than what the buses, cars and trucks have.

      • Sassy Lou says:

        Hey you forgot rollerskaters and skateboarders.

        Also, Plankers and unicyclers!!!

      • Marjorie says:

        The plan to eliminate cars from the city is underway, it’s called vision zero!

    19. UWSer says:

      Hitting this thing should be an automatic loss of drivers license. If you can’t figure out how to see and avoid this gigantic concrete obstruction then you should not be driving a motor vehicle in NYC at all.

    20. Sassy Lou says:

      Uh..yeah..you need to add trees and some benches along with a TALL cement wall..like ALL MEDIANS on BROADWAY are!!!!

    21. UWSider says:

      By making west end avenue a single lane avenue from 106st to the lower 70s or 60s, the NYCDOT along with other concerned neighbors have created more traffic. Traffic at times creates frustration, which in the end will cause more accidents. A majority of the congestion created on the 96st upper west side area originated with the new 96st 1,2, and 3 subway entrance, which in turn had more vehucles turning on 97st and Broadway towards west end because of the congestion on 96st to access the highway. Let’s continue to blame every other issue, but the actual issue that has presented the problem. Please provide statistics of how many people have been ran over on the upper west side (I.e 96st and bway/west end over the past 30 years) and see if it amounts to what has occurred in the past 2-3 years since the congestion went up. I do expect there to be more accidents/incidents in this area within the near future.