Volume 21, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 13 - 19, 2009

Downtown Express photo by Candida L. Figueroa

Many drivers rush through the stop sign on Battery Pl. to turn left onto South End Ave.

Residents say other streets are also unsafe

By Candida L. Figueroa

As drivers speed past the stop sign and pedestrians on the corner of West Thames St. and Battery Pl., there is a clash between who owns the right of way to the crosswalk.

Pedestrian traffic safety Downtown made citywide news over the weekend with the death of N.Y.U. graduate Marilyn Feng on West St., but residents have had concerns about crossing the highway and other Battery Park City intersections like Battery Pl. and West Thames for years.

Most of the Battery Pl. vehicles are coming from the FDR Drive and seem to be avoiding construction and rush hour traffic on West St., as they rush to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel or to South End Ave.

Two days prior to the fatal accident nearby, the early afternoon traffic was slow as most vehicles avoided the stop sign on Battery Pl. The few who seemed to slow down for a stop, actually rolled through keeping a watchful eye out.

Molly Brommer said she sees frequent speeding while walking with her two children as “Mahattanites rush to enjoy the nightlife….This is a very, very dangerous situation for the neighborhood. This area is filled with families who should have safe streets.”

“Since Manhattan is so busy, I’m always extra careful when I cross the street but particularly this one,” said Maury Zinberg, 78. He said it’s harder to walk in the cold and drivers get frustrated with him. “I move slower because my bones hurt, and all I can hear is their beeping. They just can’t wait to go through this stop sign.”

Darnell Taylor, a truck driver walking near the intersection, had his own rules of the road, saying pedestrians should yield to drivers.

“I know when I drive in the city, I don’t have time to wait,” he said. “If people see a car coming they should wait, because the car is not stopping for them so they should stop for the car.”

Jenny Price, who works as a nanny in the Financial District, said it’s not just drivers who are the problem. “Residents who complain now aren’t complaining when it’s the taxi they’re in that’s going fast,” she said.

Last week in the early evening, the chilling winds got colder with many cars appearing to be going faster than the city street speed limit of 30 m.p.h. Few cars stopped at the sign, and a few drivers were talking on their cell phones.

Community Board 1 has been trying to get the city and state transportation departments to solve the problem.

“Drivers just whip around the corner,” said Linda Belfer, chairperson of the board’s Battery Park City Committee. “The community feels it’s an accident waiting to happen.” Belfer said the board wants a traffic light at the intersection.




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