Dangerous feeling at East Ave and Main Street: 'You're hoping you won't get hit'

Berkeley Brean
Updated: October 08, 2019 06:15 PM
Created: October 08, 2019 05:00 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Just over a week ago, a man was hit and killed by a SUV two blocks from News10NBC's studio. Rochester Police arrested the driver two days later.

Now, one of the victim's neighbors is telling News10NBC that the same intersection feels dangerous to cross.


It's the corner of East Avenue and Main Street at the Liberty Pole. It's a place where more and more people are starting to live, including a man named John Ricks.

On Tuesday, he showed me where he says he almost gets hit every day.

"Okay, there goes one swinging by," Ricks said, pointing to a car as he crossed Main Street at East Avenue in downtown Rochester.

Ricks is the man who contacted me.

"That was fairly, fairly safe I guess," I said to him when we reached the sidewalk.

"Yes, it was," Ricks said.

Ricks says it's going back the other way, towards his apartment in the Sibley Building, where it gets dangerous.

"I've almost been hit once and I'm afraid that it's not long until someone else gets hurt," Ricks said.

It happened to his neighbor. On Sept. 29, Rochester Police say 55-year-old Michael Keating was hit and killed at the same intersection. That's what prompted Ricks to reach out to News10NBC.

Here's part of the problem:

A Google image shows the angle of the intersection is less than 90 degrees, which means the cars turning left from East Avenue to Main Street come up from behind people crossing the street.

The walk sign and the green light also turn at the same time, so walkers don't get a head start.

When we crossed the intersection, our GoPro camera captured a white car turning just feet behind me.

Six years ago, I got the Rochester Police Reports of every single accident where a pedestrian was hit. There were 180 cases, and I pinpointed each one on a map and found that the area inside the Inner Loop was a hot spot. In a majority of the cases, the reports showed the pedestrian was at fault.

Ricks, though, says he feels in danger in the crosswalk.

"Somebody else is going to get hit or killed pretty soon," Ricks said. "I dread that, but it's bound to happen if something is not done about the traffic situation here."

At 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, I emailed Mayor Lovely Warren's office and asked if the city has done anything to make that intersection safer for people walking.

At 4:03 p.m., city spokesman Justin Roj wrote back, saying that "As part of the Main Street Streetscape Phase 1 project in 2018, the width of Main Street at East Avenue was reduced by the removal of a travel lane. By doing so, the amount of time that it takes a pedestrian to cross the street and therefore be exposed to turning vehicles was reduced.

There were three other crashes at this intersection thus far in 2019. All of them were rear end collisions and did not involve a pedestrian.

This intersection will receive a signal upgrade next year through the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan to install a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI), which gives pedestrians a head start when crossing before cars get a green light."

One reason we think this is important to tell you this? Two decades ago, the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation says 3,250 people lived in downtown Rochester.

This year RDDC says the downtown population is 7,250.

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