Safer Streets Under Fire at Gerson “Town Hall”

grand_street_median.jpgIt's safer to cross Grand Street. The arrogance!

Lower Manhattan City Council rep Alan Gerson held a "transportation town hall" Monday night, following up on his pledge last year to closely monitor creeping safety enhancements to New York streets. Fellow City Council member John Liu, a candidate for comptroller, also made an appearance at the forum.

Based on a report in the Lo-Down, a new blog covering the Lower East Side, the session successfully gathered up ideas from ill-informed cranks:

The Grand Street bike lanes and center islands installed last year were ridiculed by several residents of Co-op Village. Harold Jacob accused DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione of lying when she told him the center median was installed because pedestrians had been killed by cars on Grand Street. Jacob said he believed the changes had, in fact, made the street more dangerous. Because there is less room to maneuver, Jacob claimed fire trucks and ambulances can't safely pass through. "You've actually put lives in danger," he told DOT officials.

Another resident contended the islands, opposed by Community Board 3,  were "arrogantly conceived and arrogantly carried out." More than one speaker blamed Mayor Bloomberg, accusing him of "destroying Grand Street." Some people demanded that the medians be removed -- others wanted the bike lanes eliminated.

A quick CrashStat check reveals that, contrary to Mr. Jacob's gut assertion, several people have been killed by autos while walking on Grand Street in recent years. Co-op Village, like many other housing developments in the area, is home to a big senior population. Those pedestrian refuges make Grand Street safer to cross and less intimidating to older New Yorkers. Rolling back critical safety improvements that improve seniors' quality of life -- is that really the kind of "community input" that Gerson wants to align himself with?