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Another Fatal Pedestrian-Car Accident on the Upper West Side

Yet another Upper West Side pedestrian accident might have been avoided had proposals for improved street safety in the neighborhood been implemented. The death last week of the 61-year-old artist was the fourth pedestrian fatality in the neighbourhood this year.

The pedestrian was in the crosswalk when she was struck by an SUV that was making a very short left turn from W. 95th Street to go uptown on West End Avenue, according to a doorman who witnessed the accident. The pedestrian was dragged about 30 feet under the vehicle before it stopped.

The intersection of W. 95th Street and West End Avenue was one of a number of Upper West Side locations cited in a 2013 report urging safety improvements. However, the Community Board 7 failed to act on the recommendations until three pedestrians were killed in the neighbohood in January of this year.

After those accidents, the city made some improvements to the intersection at Broadway and 96th Street, adding turn restrictions and pedestrian space. However, other recommendations from the report that include curb extensions, pedestrian islands and left turn bans have yet to be implemented.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) says that it may change the traffic light sequences to give pedestrians more time to cross the street. It may also ban left turns for 10 hours per week – 7 AM to 9 AM Monday-Friday -- and may install a new speed bump in addition to the one already in place on W. 95th Street.

The crash that killed the woman, an artist who lived nearby, mirrors exactly a scenario described in the 2013 report. It said, “Vehicles turn left northbound from W. 95th Sreet onto West End Ave at wide angles and high speeds, creating pedestrian conflicts.”

Although the Manhattan District Attorney is investigating, the Daily News reported that the driver is not expected to be charged with a crime, even though the victim had the right of way. The law that makes it a misdemeanor to hit pedestrians or cyclists who have the right of way does not go into effect until August.

Source: Streetsblog, “Another UWS Pedestrian Killed as Safety Recommendations Sit on the Shelf,” Jul. 11, 2014.