Victims’ Families Ask Marty Markowitz to Get Serious About Street Safety

In the past year, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has made several outspoken appearances against proven, life-saving traffic-calming projects.

Last month, Markowitz called for the removal of pedestrian refuges on a stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway where three people have died in the past three years.

On the local news and in front of the City Council, he’s called for the removal of pedestrian safety measures and speciously claimed that the popular Prospect Park West bike lane was imposed against public will. He’s cast aspersions on data proving the effectiveness of the PPW re-design, ridiculed bike lanes, and maintained that establishing safer streets for walking and biking “stigmatizes” motorists.

At the same time, the borough president has been silent about traffic crashes that have killed and maimed people on Brooklyn streets. After one week this January in which an 83-year-old rabbi was killed and several children hospitalized with serious injuries caused by traffic, Markowitz stood in front of the local TV cameras and called for pedestrian islands to be ripped out of Fort Hamilton Parkway, where three people had been killed in just the past three years.

Tomorrow evening, Markowitz will deliver his state of the borough address, and people whose lives have been altered by traffic violence in Brooklyn are asking him to get serious about preventing deaths and injuries — and to stop standing in the way of life-saving improvements to the borough’s streets.

Friends and relatives of traffic violence victims have sent letters to Markowitz urging him to take street safety seriously and “change his way of thinking.” Transportation Alternatives sent the following excerpts from those letters.

From Susan Gossiaux, whose 21-year-old daughter Emily Gossiaux was hit by a truck while riding her bike:

“My daughter is now blind…and recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Don’t just use people’s lives as a public stepping stone for votes or power plays.”

From Andrew Weeks, whose friend Neil Chamberlain was killed in a hit-and-run in Williamsburg last year:

“I know this was a preventable death… One month after my friend Neil’s death, an older man was hit and killed on a bicycle one block from where I live, on Bushwick Avenue… I commute on bicycle to work on Bushwick Avenue, and it’s terrifying.”

From Naomi Doerner, a Brooklyn resident whose boyfriend Scott Andresen is recovering from a spinal cord injury after a car door opened in the path of his bicycle, throwing him into oncoming traffic.

“Scott is alive and can walk again. We are grateful for this every day… Think of all the people that can be saved from this needless outcome with your support of greater visibility, safety and mobility through progressive active street designs and enforcement.”

From Donna Ganson, whose husband spent a month in a coma after being struck in 2009 by a speeding car while walking their daughter to school:

“Something has to be done to make our streets safer and you must stop opposing these changes… You and others need to understand that streets belong to people, those walking, biking and driving cars, and all these citizens should have equal and safe access to them.”

From James Paz:

“On October 23, my girlfriend and I were struck from behind by a car while riding our bicycles down Franklin Street in Greenpoint. The driver did not stop and we both suffered major injuries.  My girlfriend spent a month in the hospital and today, three months later, she is still not able to walk without the use of crutches. There is no doubt in my mind that this accident would not have happened had there been protected bike lanes on this street as there are just a few blocks further on Kent Avenue.”

From Wendy Clouse, whose daughter Jasmine Herron was killed while riding her bicycle after a driver opened her car door in Herron’s path.

“Please change your way of thinking… I live in Colorado, we have bicycle lanes everywhere. I know there is limited room, but for you to deny there is a problem is disconcerting to me. I will never see Jasmine again. I will never have a grandchild. The world will never see her future art. She was such an inspiration to so many. Will the world say so about you and your beliefs?”

Update: Markowitz’s press secretary said he was aware of at least one of the letters, which the borough president intends to respond to directly. Currently Markowitz is not planning to address street safety issues in the state of the borough tomorrow.