By Khiara Ortiz
A group of elected officials, city agencies, community leaders and advocates joined up in state Senator Daniel Squadron’s office to form the Delancey St. Safety Working Group in response to a number of accidents that, according to them, have made Delancey the “deadliest” street in New York.
A fatal accident at the end of August after a cyclist ran a red light and was crushed under the tire of a cement truck, along with the fact that the Lower East Side has nine out of the 33 most dangerous intersections for cyclists in the city, has prompted planning to improve the safety of bike traffic flowing onto and off of the Williamsburg Bridge.
“Last month’s tragic death of cyclist Jeffrey Axelrod was the latest painful reminder of the dangerous conditions that plague Delancey St. on the Lower East Side,” said Borough President Scott Stringer
“The number of fatalities this year alone demand action,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin. “It is time to make Delancey safe for everyone who uses it.”
Countdown clock installations at the intersections along Delancey St. by the Department of Transportation were a first step to increase safety measures. The department also is building a curved, stainless steel fence at the bridge’s Manhattan end with 3-foot-tall concrete walls bordering the median. But bike activists and other cyclists, in general, say the new D.O.T. structures will cause more problems than they solve.
“For too long, Delancey has been the scene of far too many tragedies,” said Squadron. “Our working group is a much-needed step toward ending the cycle of danger. I’m confident that, together, we can find the short-term and long-term solutions to ensure a safe Delancey St. for all types of users.”
The Working Group also includes representatives of Community Board 3 and the Lower East Side Business Improvement District.
Bill di Paola, founder of the pro-cycling and environmental group Time’s Up!, has something different in mind for facilitating bike traffic off the bridge. Along with Time’s Up! members and architect Josh Manes, di Paola designed a ramp that would start at about 75 feet up the bridge and connect to a path on the south side of Delancey St. that would run for several blocks west as a parkway.
However, D.O.T spokesperson Montgomery Dean said there are no plans at this time to consider alternative designs.