Thanks to a local lawmaker and the mayor’s commitment to make 1,000 intersections safer, much-needed safety enhancements may be coming to numerous Upper East Side intersections, Patch first reported.
Mayor Eric Adams recently pledged to “turbo-charge” the City’s Vision Zero initiative and Upper East Side NYC Council Member Julie Menin is seeking to hold him to that promise. “We need to invest in our streets to make them safer for pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists. Walking down the street should not be a life-or-death situation.”
The Upper East Side has witnessed a string of pedestrian fatalities in the last month. The most recent occurred just last week at East 76th and Third Avenue when 51-year-old Udeshi Shruti Sundeep, a kindergarten teacher at the Spence School, was struck and killed in the crosswalk by an Audi Sedan just after 6:30 a.m. on January 24.
On Christmas Eve, a cyclist and a pedestrian were killed when a box truck jumped the curb at East 61st Street and Third Avenue. The third crash on December 13 killed a delivery cyclist at East 76th and First Avenue.
Menin wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 26 detailing these recent deaths and noted specifically that the intersection where Sundeep was killed last week is the same intersection where at least 12 people have been injured in a dozen crashes in the last decade. She invited the agency’s commissioner to review the sites of the neighborhood’s most recent fatalities and to “immediately study measures that can prevent fatalities or injuries on our City streets.”
DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez agreed to do a walk-through with Menin but the date has not yet been set, according to Patch.
The Vision Zero effort began in Sweden in the 1990s and expanded to New York City in 2014. Its objective is to eradicate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Since the program’s implementation, deaths decreased each year from 259 in 2014 to 206 in 2018 citywide.
However, deaths have increased each year following 2018, reaching 268 in 2021, the deadliest year since the inception of Vision Zero. Injuries increased annually from 51,500 in 2014 to numbers often in the 60,000 range through 2019.
Mayor Adams’ plan to improve safety at 1,000 intersections includes intersection redesigns with new turn signals, raised crosswalks that will double as speed bumps, and “head starts” for pedestrians so that they can enter the crosswalks before any vehicle can turn.
“NYPD has also been tasked with the new goal of doubling 2021 “failure-to-yield” enforcement and a new DOT traffic rule requires that drivers and cyclists come to a full stop until pedestrians finish crossing the street at over 1,200 intersections in the city that lack both traffic signals and stop signs.”
A full breakdown of the Mayor’s turbo-charged plan is available here.