By Lisa Kava
Major streets on the Upper West Side have gone without pedestrian crosswalks or lane markings for cars for months. Drivers routinely encroach into the areas where there used to be crosswalks, forcing pedestrians to veer closer to oncoming traffic to get around them, according to residents.
West End Avenue between 61st and 72nd Street has not had any permanent pedestrian crosswalks or lane markings since a street repaving project took place last fall. West 96th Street between Central Park West and West End Avenue — an area that police officials have repeatedly said is one of the most dangerous stretches in the neighborhood — has not had any pedestrian crosswalks or lane markings since at least early December, according to one resident of the block.
It’s a situation we’ve chronicled for months, but locals say they have seen little progress.
@NYC_DOT @NYCMayor @VisionZeroNYC How long will it take to get the white lines painted on the UWS, West End Avenue at 70, 71, 72 streets? School children are crossing to PS 199 without cars stopping properly at these junctions. It has been more than 4 months! #VisionZero
— NYCLawyer (@NYCLawyer27) March 6, 2018
In December, the DOT drew temporary crosswalks on West End. But they faded within weeks, according to a neighborhood resident. “In mid February, preliminary lines and crosswalks again appeared,” he continued. “Unfortunately, since then, due to weather, car and foot traffic the lines have faded. So nothing is being accomplished.”
We walked along West 96th Street from Central Park West to West End Avenue earlier this week and found that there are currently no pedestrian crosswalks at all in the North-South direction and very limited temporary line markings on this block. According to Lisa Gurley, a resident who lives on West 96th Street, the street was repaved in December. In February, when the street remained without crosswalks or line markings, Gurley contacted 311 and received a response to her complaint saying a ticket for lack of pavement markings would be opened and that it may take up to 30 days for a resolution. “Amsterdam and West 96th Street seems to be the most scary to me,” Gurley said. “Cars do not know where to stop and people end up walking farther out into the intersection. I’ve seen several near misses.”
West Side Rag reached out again to both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Council Member Helen Rosenthal to see why it is taking so long to install permanent markings.
“Both West End Avenue and West 96 Street are high priority locations and work is expected to begin this week,” a DOT spokesman said in a statement. “As mentioned in our previous statement, installation is based on safety and weather conditions.”
The DOT had told us in December that the department was “actively working to complete this project.”
There is a major storm expected to hit the city on Wednesday, which could make the project unfeasible again.
Rosenthal criticized the DOT in a statement to West Side Rag.
“The lack of cross-walks on West End Avenue between 61st and 72nd streets, and along West 96th Street, is a public safety issue plain and simple. It is critical that a clear visible path exist for pedestrians as they cross the street. The Department of Transportation has confirmed to us that they will paint in cross-walks at these locations as soon as the winter weather season is over, as the paint requires warmer temperatures to affix permanently. This was poor planning on DOT’s part. They strove to repave as many streets as possible last year but they did not allocate enough time for the second and equally important part of the process, repainting cross-walks.”
The continuing delays are frustrating people who walk on the blocks. “Six months is way too long for a busy street like West End Avenue to go without crosswalks, stop signs and lane markings,” the West End Avenue resident said. “This is a street that hundreds of schoolchildren cross every day to get to and from school. Our city officials seem to be only paying lip service to pedestrian safety.”
“I hope that with a little pressure the city will fix the situation,” Gurley said. “It is very frustrating that a dangerous situation would go so long unattended, especially given the Mayor’s Vision Zero emphasis.”