Killed pedestrians hit Upper East Side and Upper West Side
Days after Mayor Eric Adams announced plans for an overhaul of Vision Zero to improve road safety in the city, two pedestrian deaths on Jan. 24 rocked the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.
Early Monday morning, just after 6:30 a.m., police responded to an incident at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and East 76th Street, where a woman identified as Udeshi Shruti Sundeep, 51, had been hit by a speeding car 3rd Ave. Found injured and unconscious, Shruti Sundeep was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital and later pronounced dead, according to Sergeant Edward Riley, a spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI). Connette Bercik, 59, was arrested and charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian.
“It’s absolutely tragic and enough is enough,” councilwoman Julie Menin said of the Upper East Side crash, which happened a block away from her district, District 5. The intersection has been the scene of several crashes over the past decade, according to city data.
A few hours later last Monday, a similar story unfolded on the Upper West Side. Just before noon, police responded to an incident at the intersection of West 93rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where a woman identified as Beatriz Diaz, 43, was found injured and unconscious after being hit by a speeding van. left on West 93rd Street. EMS transported Diaz to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead. There were no arrests, according to Sergeant Riley.
“Our intersections have become by far the most dangerous places in the public right-of-way,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said in a statement.
The old vision zero
Nearly a decade ago, in 2014, the city launched Vision Zero, bringing together agencies ranging from the MTA and NYPD to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.
In its early days, the initiative seemed to dent the most heartbreaking results of street collisions; the total number of annual deaths across the city rose each year from 259 in 2014 to 206 in 2018, according to city traffic data. The number of annual citywide injuries painted a less promising picture, with the total falling from around 55,500 in 2013, before the initiative began, to around 51,500 in 2014, before jumping even higher. higher than the 2013 number (often in the 60,000 range) for all subsequent years from 2016 to 2019.
In 2020, traffic-related injuries declined, but fatalities have increased every year since 2018, reaching an annual total of 268 at the end of 2021.
“I hear pedestrians and I hear cyclists, both of them, saying, ‘It’s imperative that we have safer streets,'” Menin said. “And it is, by the way, quite doable – it’s not an insoluble problem.”
The new vision zero
On January 19, Mayor Eric Adams joined New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell in Brooklyn to announce new efforts to improve safety at 1,000 intersections, where most pedestrian injuries and deaths occur. “After the tragedy of 2021, when New York City road deaths hit their highest level in nearly a decade, we clearly need to energize Vision Zero — and fast,” Adams said.
Safety improvements will include redesigning intersections with the addition of new turn signals and “early starts” for pedestrians – so they can cross the street before vehicles start turning – and the annual construction of 100 raised pedestrian crossings which will also serve as speed bumps. At least 100 intersections will have bike corrals installed to increase intersection visibility and prevent drivers from cornering. And the DOT will take action on two traffic calming measures – reducing shortcuts in parking lots and gas stations encouraged by curb cuts and enforcing slower turns at 100 intersections with the placement of “physical elements which guide drivers’ movements and force slower speeds.
The NYPD has also been tasked with the new goal of doubling ‘non-yielding’ enforcement in 2021 and a new DOT traffic rule requires drivers and cyclists to come to a complete stop until pedestrians have finished. to cross the street at more than 1,200 intersections in the city that lack both traffic lights and stop signs.
In a letter to DOT Commissioner Rodriguez on Jan. 26, Councilwoman Menin noted five intersections in (and just outside) her district that have been the sites of traffic-related fatalities and should receive attention: First Avenue and East 76th Street, First Avenue and East 57th Street, First Avenue and East 58th Street, Third Avenue and East 76th Street and Third Avenue and East 61st Street. “It’s imperative, our streets must be safe,” Menin said.