Opinion | Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Drastic traffic changes needed to prevent another tragedy

To the Editor: 

Ken Coughlin’s op-ed (“Proposed traffic changes at 96th Street are a much-needed step forward,” Feb. 3) compellingly criticizes this city’s skewed priorities in favor of vehicles over the pedestrian “super majority,” and the carnage that has resulted. In the wake of three pedestrian deaths—including the death of my neighbor, nine-year-old Cooper Stock—the Department Of Transportation’s recent proposal to redesign signaling and the streetscape at 96th and Broadway is welcome, but it is far from the comprehensive solution needed to make this neighborhood truly safe.

What happened to Cooper is a nightmare for those of us with young children in this neighborhood. Every intersection on the walk to and from my children’s school is incredibly dangerous. Why? Because chronic failure to yield, speeding, and red light running—well-documented in this neighborhood—are what we face at every corner.

For years, many of us in the community have implored our elected and appointed officials to implement proactive solutions, including better traffic enforcement and alterations to the streetscape. Until now, our efforts have largely fallen on deaf ears. Mr. Coughlin is one of the few who has consistently taken a safer-streets stand—astonishingly unpopular in CB7 until now. He suggests that we may have reached a tipping point on the issue, and I hope he’s right. But officials’ past inaction and intransigence requires this community to stay hypervigilant. We must continue to take nothing for granted and to press for the implementation of integrated, comprehensive, and proactive safer streets strategies rather than piecemeal and inadequate responses to tragedy.

On our corner of 97th Street and West End Avenue, many issues remain. The DOT daylighted two parking spaces at our corner, cars have ignored the “No Standing” sign, and requests to the police to ticket those cars have been ignored. We will need bollards or other structures to block the cars. The DOT continues to “study” a change in the signal pattern that would halt the speedway of traffic hurtling west down 97th toward West End and into the crosswalk. Cars turn left from 97th onto West End from both the right and left lanes­—and those drivers cannot possibly see pedestrians in the very crosswalk where Cooper was killed. These issues need to be addressed now—not months from now—to prevent the next tragedy from occurring.

Julie Kowitz Margolies, CC ’89
771 West End Avenue
Feb. 6, 2014

To respond to this letter, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.


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J. Lee posted on

I got into an argument with a woman the other day who had a green light on 87th. She was appalled that we could be walking in the crosswalk around the corner on Broadway right where she wanted to turn (never mind that we were crossing with the walk sign and had the right of way). She almost hit my young son because she did not see him. I explained to her that she is supposed to yield to pedestrians and she was so busy yelling that she did not even hear me. With all of these recent incidents and countless near misses, I support and applaud the hypervigilance of the community and truly hope that officials will finally take meaningful action.

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