2015 Brings Changes to LC Cross- Section

At+least+five+new+crossing+paths+will+be+added+to+both+sides+of+Columbus+Avenue+between+63rd+Street+and+66th+Street.+%28Jessica+Hanley%2FThe+Observer%29

At least five new crossing paths will be added to both sides of Columbus Avenue between 63rd Street and 66th Street. (Jessica Hanley/The Observer)

By ANA FOTA
Contributing Writer
Published: March 11, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to make the streets of NYC safer by reducing the rate of car accidents. Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg has been continuing the legacy of her predecessor, Janette Sadik-Khan, of redesigning the streets of Manhattan one step at a time. Columbus Avenue traffic improved by implementing changes in its most populated intersections, however, the portion between 59th Street and 69th Street, encompassing Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC) campus, street has not been changed yet.

Community Board 7, in charge of the Upper West Side, held its monthly meeting on Monday, March 2, in FCLC’s Pope Auditorium. The board voted on multiple resolutions, including the redesign of the one of the most dangerous areas on the Upper West Side: the Lincoln Square Bow Tie Intersection, where Columbus Avenue crosses Broadway and 65th Street. Members of the Upper West Side community showed up to share their support of the resolution, which is expected to improve safety for pedestrians, bikers and drivers at once.

The intersection ranks as one of the borough’s most dangerous, according to crash data from 2008 to 2012, placing itself in the top 5 percent of Manhattan intersections due to the high number of people killed or injured in traffic. The new plan includes a ban for drivers making a left turn from southbound Columbus Avenue onto Broadway. This way, there will be fewer cars at the intersection, increasing pedestrian safety, only MTA buses remaining exempt from the restriction. New crosswalks will be added across Broadway, on both sides of Columbus Avenue.

The board is made up of 50 members, half appointed by the president of the borough, Gale Brewer, while the other half is appointed by the City Council member in charge of the neighborhood, Helen Rosenthal. Out of the members of the board, 40 were present at the meeting, and the vote passed 38 in favor, to zero against, two abstaining and zero present and not voting.

The plan will make several changes to the intersection, which will affect both drivers and pedestrians alike. Up to five new crossings will be added on both sides of Columbus Avenue, stretching from 63rd Street to 66th Street. Among the plan’s main priorities are adding pedestrian safety by continuing the bike safe path, adding traffic signs and turn restrictions and enlarging the pedestrian islands using paint and plastic bollards. Turns on Broadway from Columbus Avenue will not be allowed, nor from northbound Broadway to eastbound 65th Street.

For FCLC residents, improving the intersection will serve to both save time and make them feel safer. Laura Staravecka, FCLC ’15, believes she will feel safer once the changes are in place. Because there is no safe bike lane there, “bikers use the car lane and they come very close to pedestrians when they cross the street,” she stated. The high influx of cars adds to the danger as well. “When I cross I need to be extra-careful. Having fewer cars there will make me feel a lot safer,” Staravecka added. Fellow resident Shea Servidio, FCLC ’18, sees a problem in the time it takes to cross. “I crossover by Bed, Bath and Beyond on 65th [Street] very frequently and the new crosswalks will help me save time,” Servidio stated. However, Jimmy Vicari, FCLC ’17, thinks that the plan should have been even simpler. “I understand what they were trying to do, but I feel like a direct crosswalk across Ninth [Columbus] Avenue would have made it a lot easier and faster, ” he stated.

Bike lanes on Columbus Avenue stop at 59th Street and only begin again on 69th Street. The new setting also removes the south-bound car lane, adding pedestrian safety. The project is expected to begin construction in spring 2015.