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'Vision Zero' Traffic Changes Have Drivers Grumbling On The Upper West Side

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- A new traffic pattern on the Upper West Side has drivers grumbling.

It's part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's 'Vision Zero' plan to make the streets safer for pedestrians, but it has many asking 'whose bright idea was this?'

As CBS2's Sonia Rincon reported, the latest change making it harder for cars to get around Manhattan is at the intersection known as the Lincoln Square Bow Tie.

You used to be able to make a slight left onto Broadway if you were headed down Columbus Avenue. Now, unless you're driving an MTA bus you're forced to keep going south on Columbus.

Continuing south on Columbus sends drivers straight into a bottleneck where construction takes up two out of four lanes.

"Before, you could go straight down and now you have all this traffic and construction. It's brutal. I don't know what the mayor is thinking," cab driver Shahzaid said.

There are no signs to warn you about the change, but Rommy Sandhu said it's not enough.

"We're dealing with these signs that are countering everything that's in our bodies as drivers, as New York drivers dealing with cabs and livery drivers and buses and trying to negotiate that," he said, "We're balancing greeness and safety, there are a lot of issues that are in play and I don't think it's really thought through."

Plenty of drivers were making the illegal turn anyway.

To make things more complicated, if you're driving south on Broadway you can no longer make a left onto 64th street. Cardboard now covers what used to be turning arrows on a stop light.

City Council member Helen Rosenthal said all of the changes are for pedestrian safety, to reduce the time and risk of crossing the busy bow tie, which was known as the suicide knot.

"Between 2008 and 2012, there had been over 144 crashes with serious injuries and there was one fatality, so clearly there was a need to do something," she said.

The DOT brought in street engineers who came up with the redesign, but Rosenthal has heard from drivers who don't like it.

"And I get the inconvenience a thousand percent. And in fact I've asked the Department of Transportation to come back and look at that inconvenience and explore ways to fix it," Rosenthal said.

The DOT said it will keep monitoring the changes which are meant to make the whole area safer and less confusing. Once the sewer construction project is done, things should be moving a lot smoother.

The new traffic pattern also paved the way for bike lanes through the bow tie.

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