DOT studies make several recommendations to improve safety in area
A new report from the city's Department of Transportation calls for several safety upgrades in Yorkville specifically aimed at preventing accidents involving elderly pedestrians.
As part of the study, the department released a map showing senior pedestrian crashes from 2006-2010. The most dangerous intersection, according to the map, is the one at East 80th Street and York Avenue, where there were three senior pedestrian accidents in the time frame studied.
The map showed 16 other trouble spots where elderly pedestrians had been struck in Yorkville. The East 79th Street corridor appears to be particularly dangerous, with eight senior pedestrian crashes from 2006-2010.
Scott Falk, co-chair of Community Board 8's Transportation Committee, said the DOT contacted the community board some years ago looking to do a study on senior pedestrian safety in the area.
"They looked at areas with a lot of senior pedestrians around the city, and looked for the areas that showed up more often on their crash maps of where senior pedestrians got injured," said Falk. "Early on, this is one of the first areas that they wanted to look at."
Falk said the next step at the community board level is to get community feedback on the report's recommendations.
"We're glad that DOT came back to us with some specific proposals and we look forward to further discussion in the near future," said Falk. "But before we have that discussion we need to actually post this for the public at all of those locations. We're not going to vote on something that affects a specific location without first giving the public a chance to know that we're discussing those locations."
The report calls for neckdowns - curb extensions - at two locations on York Avenue: the southern crosswalks at East 79th Street and East 82nd Street, and another neckdown at 3rd Avenue and East 83rd Street.
The report also calls for a pedestrian safety island on East 86th Street between 1st Avenue and York Avenue.
A third recommendation involves banning cars from turning left onto Lexington Avenue - heading downtown - from East 86th Street. The report says that the East 86th Street 4/5/6 subway stop is the 10 busiest in the city with an average weekday ridership of 63,500 in 2012. Nineteen pedestrians were struck crossing Lexington Avenue on East 86th Street from 2007-2010, the report notes.
The report also calls for several pedestrian benches throughout the study area as well as condensing the amount of truck loading zones to minimize the frequency of drivers swerving around trucks that are being loaded and unloaded on the street.
"We've been having discussions recently about pedestrian safety quite a bit, in particular we've had a couple conversations about enforcement of the failure to yield to pedestrian regulations, said Falk. "We've certainly had a lot of senior citizens at those meetings expressing their concern about pedestrian safety, so this is definitely a thing we're glad they're coming to us [about]."
According to the DOT's website, the Safe Streets for Seniors program studies crash data and develops and implements recommendations to improve the safety of seniors and other pedestrians on city streets.
Since launching the program in 2008, the DOT has addressed senior pedestrian safety issues in 25 focus areas in the five boroughs. The areas were selected based on the density of senior pedestrians (age 65+) crashes resulting in fatalities or severe injuries in a five-year period.
Since the program began, annual senior pedestrian fatalities have decreased 19 percent citywide, from 58 senior fatalities in 2008 to 48 in 2012, according to the DOT.
The DOT could not be reached for comment on when the recommendations in Yorkville might be implemented.
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