Dangerous Intersection Now Safer Following Traffic Safety Improvement Urged by Local Community and Council Member Kallos

10/18/2016

Dangerous Intersection Now Safer Following Traffic Safety Improvement Urged by Local Community and Council Member Kallos

East 79th Street and York Avenue Now A Safer Crossing for Pedestrians

New York, NY – The Department of Transportation has eliminated left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street to make the street crossing safer for pedestrians, in response to advocacy by the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and Council Member Ben Kallos.

For seven years East 79th Street and York Avenue had the distinction of being one of the only intersections in the city where red lights would stop cars going South, East and West, but not North, leading to conflicts between pedestrians and speeding vehicles. A frequent vignette would play out multiple times a day, where a pedestrian seeing vehicles stopped in three directions would begin to cross York Avenue at 79th Street, only to be surprised as a vehicle going North, did not stop entering the intersection at high speed, often causing the pedestrian run or jump out of the way.

There have been 74 collisions at East 79th Street and York Avenue since 2012 with 20 people injured half of whom were pedestrians. In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos surveyed 60,000 households in the district to identify dangerous intersections culminating in a “Livable Streets Report: Dangerous Intersections,” which included East 79th Street and York Avenue stating the following:

            East 79th Street and York Avenue

Drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians, turning improperly and speeding. The cross light does not provide enough time to cross the street. The crosswalk markings are not visible on the streets. The uptown/downtown traffic lights appear to be out of sync.

Following the report Council Member Ben Kallos, brought the solution of removing the additional time for Northbound vehicles at 79th Street by eliminating left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association and Community Board 8 who passed a resolutions in support. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently installed signage eliminating left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street and fixed the traffic lights so that north and southbound vehicle get a red light at the same time making this street safer for pedestrians.

“Every day I saw pedestrians crossing York Avenue getting caught by surprise as they dodged northbound cars that barreled through the intersection at 79th Street,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association and Community Board 8 Manhattan for working with me to identify a dangerous intersection and for Department of Transportation for making our streets safer for pedestrians.”

"We're so relieved. It's been much better," said Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association. "Blind people would hear the traffic stop on one side would start crossing and end up dodging cars. It should not have taken years, but we're happy with it."

"I thank Councilman Kallos for leading the effort to fix this confusing and dangerous intersection.  We all now have a safer York Avenue because of him" said Jim Clynes, Chair of Community Board 8.

"In January, Mayor de Blasio announced a new focus on left turns as a part of our Vision Zero initiative citywide. As part of the Vision Zero initiative, NYC DOT removed the northbound left turn signal at this location last July and banned the turn from York Avenue to westbound West 79th Street to eliminate pedestrian confusion," said DOT spokesman Jose Bayona.