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Posts from the "Bay Ridge" Category

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Three Years After Voting Down Bike Lane, CB 10 Weighs Bay Ridge Bike Plan

Three years ago, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio cheered as Brooklyn Community Board 10 helped kill a bike lane proposal. Tonight, there’s a very different story unfolding: Responding to CB 10′s request for new bike routes, Mayor de Blasio’s DOT has proposed a bike lane plan for the neighborhood.

Our plan is your plan: DOT is proposing bike routes (in light blue) after receiving suggestions from CB 10. Map: DOT

DOT is proposing bike routes (in light blue) after receiving suggestions from CB 10. Map: DOT

The plan under consideration tonight [PDF] is different than the one from 2011, which attracted media attention at the height of the “bikelash.” Back then, DOT proposed adding bike lanes to extra-wide Bay Ridge Parkway. Even though it wouldn’t have taken away car lanes or parking, local politicians and community boards objected to the idea of making room for cyclists on a busy road. DOT ultimately folded and ditched the plan.

Bay Ridge Parkway is not part of the new proposal, which covers more miles than the previous plan but does not reach into Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. DOT is considering bike routes on Fort Hamilton Parkway, 68th Street, 72nd Street, and Marine Avenue, which were requested by CB 10 in 2012. The board also asked for bike lanes on Seventh Avenue near the Gowanus Expressway, but DOT is suggesting an alternate route on Sixth Avenue instead.

Like the plan from 2011, this proposal doesn’t change the underlying geometry of streets very much. It includes a mix of shared lane markings and painted bike lanes, not protected lanes, and it does not remove any car lanes or parking spaces. Shared lanes would be added on Sixth Avenue from 67th Street to Fort Hamilton Parkway, on Fort Hamilton Parkway from 92nd Street to 101st Street, and on Marine Avenue from Colonial Road to Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Painted bike lanes would be installed on Seventh Avenue from 66th Street to 67th Street, on Fort Hamilton Parkway from Sixth Avenue to 92nd Street, on 68th Street from Third Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and on 72nd Street from Colonial Road to Sixth Avenue.

The CB 10 transportation committee unanimously recommended a vote in support at its meeting last Tuesday. The committee asked DOT to study safer intersection designs on Fort Hamilton Parkway at 65th, 86th, and 92nd Streets, as well as at 65th Street and Seventh Avenue, according to notes from the meeting posted by Transportation Alternatives volunteer Michelle Yu.

DOT says it will install the bike routes next year, and according to committee member Bob HuDock, the agency will return to the committee to address those intersections this fall.

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This Is What NYPD’s “Pedestrian Education” Looks Like

Walk against the light or cross midblock in Bay Ridge, and the 68th Precinct might hand you a flyer modeled after an official warning notice.

68th Precinct.

Seen in the 68th Precinct. Image via Facebook

Members of a Bay Ridge neighborhood Facebook group report officers on Fifth Avenue at 76th and 86th Streets handing out the flyers: ”Pedestrian failed to exercise due care when crossing a roadway creating a safety hazard,” the warning says. “You are hearby [sic] summoned to appear at: The nearest intersection, in the crosswalk, crossing with the signal. Failure to do so may result in serious injury or fatality.”

Crossing with the signal may also result in serious injury, however. More pedestrians are struck and hurt while crossing in the crosswalk with the signal than while crossing midblock or against the signal, according to a study of Bellevue trauma patients by NYU Langone Medical Center.

The flyer says it contains pedestrian safety information on its reverse side, but Streetsblog has not been able to track down these tips. The precinct, its community council, and NYPD’s public information office have not returned requests for more information.

The 68th Precinct issued about one ticket per day last year for failure to yield to pedestrians [PDF], but picked up its pace in January by issuing 58 tickets for the violation that month, the latest for which data is available. The precinct has also increased its speeding enforcement, issuing 47 tickets in January [PDF] compared to just six in January, 2013. (In its first 15 days of operation, the city’s limited speed camera program nabbed 900 speeders.)

The warning includes details on the 68th Precinct community council, which will host its next meeting on March 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the precinct house, 333 65th Street in Brooklyn. Call (718) 439-4211 for more information.

The Bay Ridge precinct began handing out these flyers days after Greenpoint’s 24th Precinct issued jaywalking tickets on McGuinness Boulevard, where 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler was killed by a truck driver while crossing the street last December.

Meanwhile, police in Queens are doing some serious traffic enforcement: Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer spotted NYPD vehicles with roof-mounted cameras from the 115th Precinct and Queens North patrol bureau, pulling over speeding drivers on Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue near IS 145 in Jackson Heights this afternoon.

In 2012, 11-year-old IS 145 student Miguel Torres was crossing Northern Boulevard and 80th Street, in the crosswalk and with the light, when he was struck and killed by the driver of a dump truck. At traffic safety forums last year and this year, parents of students at the school asked for more enforcement against dangerous driving.

“It’s good to see,” Furlong told Streetsblog this afternoon.

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Xiaoci Hu, 75, Killed in Sunset Park — NYC’s First Pedestrian Fatality of 2014

This is the crosswalk at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street where Xiaoci Hu, 75, was killed this morning. Photo: Google Maps

The crosswalk at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street where Xiaoci Hu, 75, was killed this morning. Photo: Google Maps

Just after 6:45 a.m. yesterday, Xiaoci Hu, 75, of Sunset Park was walking south along the east side of Seventh Avenue when he was struck and killed in a two-car crash while crossing 65th Street. The intersection is wide, with multiple lanes in each direction, and is a busy route for drivers coming to and from the Gowanus Expressway.

Police say a 54-year-old man driving a gray Toyota Camry eastbound on 65th Street with the traffic signal slowed to allow Hu to cross, but was rear-ended by a 52-year-old man driving a red Jeep Cherokee. The Camry lurched forward, striking Hu. He was taken to Lutheran Medical Center in serious condition, but pronounced dead on arrival.

Alcohol or other impaired driving does not appear to be a factor in the crash, though NYPD would not say whether speeding or distracted driving were involved. Both drivers stayed on the scene, and there have been so summonses issued or charges filed as a result of the crash.

This is the first pedestrian fatality of 2014, but not the first traffic fatality of the new year: One person was killed in a crash on the Long Island Expressway at the Queens-Nassau County border early yesterday morning. On Wednesday, an SUV passenger was killed in an early-morning crash on the LIE in Queens. Hours later, a Staten Island man was killed behind the wheel by a hit-and-run driver.

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CB 10 Votes Against Centerpiece of Bay Ridge’s Fourth Avenue Safety Plan

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 10 voted on a slate of pedestrian safety improvements for Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge. While a number of smaller changes, such as wider crosswalks and curb extensions, received the board’s support, the board rejected the centerpiece of the plan – trimming traffic lanes to slow speeding drivers [PDF].

CB 10 prefers Fourth Avenue stay a four-lane speedway, but wants to make tweaks around the edges. Image: DOT

The current high-speed environment on Fourth Avenue contributes to a high rate of injuries and deaths. Two pedestrians have been killed along this stretch of the street this year alone. One driver killed a woman crossing mid-block at 86th Street, and weeks later another motorist fatally struck an elderly woman while turning onto Fourth from 82nd Street.

The road diet called for converting Fourth Avenue from two lanes in each direction to one, with a center turn lane, from Ovington Avenue to 86th Street [PDF]. From 101st Street to 95th Street the changes would have applied only to the northbound side.

In May, CB 10′s transportation committee recommended that the full board support the road diet. This positive vote was undercut in August by newly-elected board chair Brian Kieran, who previously served as transportation committee chair. Even though the road diet was refined over months of public workshops, Kieran urged board members to ignore the committee’s recommendations and instead pick and choose from the proposal.

Last night, the board voted down the road diet: The vote for the section from 101st Street to 95th Street was 7-29, and 4-32 for the section from Ovington Avenue to 86th Street.

“I supported it because something needs to be done, and as long as people keep dying on our streets, I’m willing to try anything,” committee member Andrew Gounardes told Streetsblog. “At the end of the day it’s just paint. If it doesn’t work, we can put it back.”

“This is the main piece of the proposal. All of the other stuff we are doing will not save as many pedestrian lives as this one piece alone, but people are not willing to hear it,” committee member Bob HuDock told Streetsblog, adding that many board members were worried the road diet would create congestion, even though DOT’s studies showed that it would not. ”It was a rehash of all the same old tired arguments we’ve been hearing for the past two years,” HuDock said of board members’ objections.

Some board members said they wanted the avenue to keep its current format, even if it endangers residents walking in the neighborhood. “I think Fourth Avenue must remain a thoroughfare, even to the detriment of locality use,” board member Judy Grimaldi said at the meeting, according to a report from Brooklyn Daily.

Following the committee’s lead, the board also voted against DOT’s proposals for a pedestrian island, pedestrian fence, and left turn lane at the busy intersection of Fourth Avenue and 86th Street, though it did support a curb extension on the southwest corner of the intersection.

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Verrazano Bridge Path Advocates Release Map, Ask MTA to Commit to Study

The Harbor Ring Committee, a coalition working to complete the missing link in a route around New York Harbor with a bicycle and pedestrian path across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, has released a map of the bike route, a 50-mile loop across four boroughs and Hudson County, New Jersey. Meanwhile, advocates are trying to get the MTA to firmly commit to a feasibility study they hope could pave the way for building the bridge path.

Advocates for a biking and walking path on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge have released a map for the Harbor Loop, a 50-mile route with a key missing link. Image: Harbor Loop Committee

In the spring, advocates circulated a petition calling on Governor Cuomo to support a bridge path. While the governor hasn’t come out with an endorsement, it did get the attention of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “A feasibility study, addressing a host of issues including cost, structural issues, operational issues and impact on the surrounding neighborhoods would have to be conducted,” spokesperson Judie Glave said, adding that the agency “is considering studying this issue as part of a future reconstruction project” that would not begin until 2014 or later.

Advocates, who have been in touch with MTA Bridges and Tunnels President James Ferrara, say they hope the planned relocation of ramps on the Brooklyn side between the bridge and the Belt Parkway will include a path feasibility study. A separate ongoing capital project that could affect plans for a bike/ped path involves replacing and widening the upper deck to accommodate a bus and carpool lane.

“Honestly, this study I think would be a formality,” Harbor Ring Committee member David Wenger told Streetsblog. The bridge, designed by architects Ammann & Whitney, includes space for paths, but they were never built. In 1997, the same firm prepared a feasibility study for the Department of City Planning, including a preferred option for a path design that was similar to the path on the George Washington Bridge, another Amman & Whitney project.

The new feasibility study would likely update the old one, including more information about security and how the ramp would interact with reconfigured Brooklyn-side ramps. ”There should be no reason why this should not be feasible,” Wenger said.

As advocates push for a study next year, the online petition has gathered more than 2,000 signatures, plus about 500 signatures on paper. Comments from petition signers have been very helpful in convincing elected officials and the MTA of the path’s value, Wenger said. Nearly a quarter of all commenters say they would use the path as part of their daily commute.

In the meantime, the effort continues to rack up endorsements from elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Marty Golden, and City Council members Deborah Rose and Vincent Gentile. Democratic City Council nominee John Mancuso has also endorsed the plan. The Harbor Ring Committee will soon reach out to borough president candidates, as well as more state legislators in both Staten Island and Brooklyn, Meredith Sladek of Transportation Alternatives said.

With the completion of a multi-use path on the new Goethals Bridge scheduled for 2017, Sladek said that the group might look at extending the loop route to include more of New Jersey, as well as the George Washington Bridge.

For those who can’t wait until a bridge path is built, the committee has already organized rides on the route and will soon print up to 5,000 copies of its newly-released Harbor Ring map for distribution to local bike shops. The map includes detailed information about the route, local bike shops, and transit. There’s just one pesky gap.

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Bay Ridge CB Chair Disses Fourth Avenue Road Diet, Proposes Non-Starter

After months of work between local residents and DOT, a plan for a road diet on Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, advanced by Brooklyn Community Board 10′s transportation committee in May, was taken up by the full board in June. After many members said they had trouble understanding the proposal, the board voted to delay making a decision. But an informational meeting about the plan last Wednesday didn’t include a presentation from DOT, and a report from the board’s chair might have sowed even more confusion as a scheduled vote approaches in October.

CB 10 Chair Brian Kieran shares some of his street design wisdom. Photo: Stefano Giovannini/Brooklyn Paper

In advance of the meeting, board members received a 10-page report on Fourth Avenue [PDF] from recently-elected board chair Brian Kieran, who had previously served as chair of the transportation committee. In the report, Kieran makes unfounded claims that the safety plan will lead to traffic congestion, and says that lane reductions, which were backed by his own committee, should be sidelined in favor of speed tables, which aren’t supported by the DOT manual he cites.

“Studies have shown that ‘road diets’ can reduce speeding vehicles without affecting the efficiency of the thoroughfare,” Kieran wrote, before contradicting this statement and making up his own numbers about road capacity. “Any reduction to traffic capacity of the thoroughfare will impinge upon vehicular traffic,” his letter continued. ”In Bay Ridge a reduction of one lane out of two through lanes of traffic is a 50 percent reduction of our traffic capacity on the avenue.”

DOT refuted Kieran’s claims, which “were addressed during our extensive outreach with Community Board 10,” agency spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said in an e-mail. ”Traffic analysis has shown that remaining travel lanes would provide sufficient capacity.”

Transportation committee member Bob HuDock, who called Wednesday’s gathering “more of a misinformational meeting,” was exasperated by Kieran’s assertions. “These claims have no evidence. It’s all based on people’s intuition,” he said. “I think we should be making policy based on data, not based on people’s feelings of what might happen.”

Kieran said that board members, most of whom are not transportation committee members and have not been heavily invested in the planning process to date, should scrap even more of the proposal. “The committee felt comfortable picking and choosing,” he wrote. “The board should feel free to do the same.”

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CB 10 Delays Vote on Fourth Avenue Safety Plan Until October

Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge will still have high rates of speeding after Community Board 10's vote to delay a safety plan approved by its transportation committee. Photo: Google Maps

After months of working with DOT and local residents on a traffic calming safety plan for Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Community Board 10 voted last night, 25-11, to delay a decision on the project. The vote effectively rules out the installation of safety treatments on the avenue this year; if the board votes in favor of the plan in October, the project could be installed next spring.

Five pedestrians were killed on Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge between 2006 and 2013, according to DOT, with two of those fatalities occurring in April of this year. Transportation Alternatives clocked drivers on Fourth Avenue at an average of 37 mph, with some measured traveling as fast as 60 mph, in a report released yesterday about the extent of speeding in Brooklyn. To reduce speeding, the plan would put Fourth Avenue on a road diet in both directions from Ovington Avenue to 86th Street, and on northbound Fourth Avenue from 101st Street to 95th Street, converting the street from two lanes in each direction to one through lane plus left-turn lanes.

Before last night’s vote, DOT had hosted workshops with community board members, including open houses in February and March, a community forum with full board members on June 5, and a transportation committee meeting last week, where resolutions supporting the proposal (except for a pedestrian island and fence at 86th Street) advanced to the full board.

But the board decided to delay the plan after many members said they had trouble understanding its details. ”There was a lot to the Department of Transpotation proposal,” district manager Josephine Beckmann told Streetsblog, noting that it covers more than 30 blocks.

As DOT received feedback on the plan, it modified the proposal, but this responsiveness may have been hard for some board members to keep up with. “There was a lot of criticism that DOT kept changing the plan after each meeting,” CB 10 transportation committee member Bob HuDock told Streetsblog, noting the irony that not long ago, many board members were criticizing the agency for not being responsive enough.

“There was certainly ample opportunity and everybody was notified about every single meeting,” HuDock said, adding that many board members chose not to participate. “If we need to do a few more meetings, let’s do a few more meetings,” he said.

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In Bay Ridge and Park Slope, Fourth Ave Traffic Calming Moves Forward

Fourth Avenue at 86th Street in Bay Ridge would get a pedestrian island - and a pedestrian fence - under a plan presented to CB 10 last week. Image: DOT

Last year, DOT redesigned Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park to calm traffic by widening pedestrian medians and reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes. Similar improvements are now on track for Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge and Park Slope. Last Thursday, Community Board 6′s transportation committee voted 14-1 to support the Park Slope plan. In Bay Ridge, CB 10′s transportation committee reviewed the plan last Monday; it now goes to a community forum scheduled for June 5.

The biggest news is that, based on public feedback, the Bay Ridge road diet, originally planned for both directions from Ovington Avenue to 84th Street, will cover more blocks than expected [PDF]. Now, both directions from Ovington Avenue to 86th Street and northbound Fourth Avenue from 101st Street to 95th Street will be converted from two lanes in each direction to one through lane in each direction plus left-turn lanes.

CB 10 has historically been reluctant to support DOT’s street redesigns, but while infamous cars-first board member Allen Bortnick raged against DOT at last week’s meeting, he seemed to be in the minority this time around. “The plan was very well-crafted and thought out and DOT took the idea of community input to heart,” CB 10 member Andrew Gounardes said. ”They went block by block and they tweaked their plan based on input from us. I’m very encouraged by that.”

The intersection with 86th Street, a major bus and subway hub with lots of pedestrian activity and automobile drop-offs, will be receiving a new pedestrian island on the south side of the junction for pedestrians crossing Fourth Avenue.

The crossing would also receive an 80-foot pedestrian fence along the west side of Fourth Avenue. Hemming people in isn’t a pedestrian-friendly solution to traffic dangers, but DOT’s fence proposal was received positively by the committee. ”It’s the most troublesome intersection we have in Bay Ridge,” Gounardes said.

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Motorists Killed at Least Two Pedestrians in Marty Golden’s District in April

A pedestrian struck by a motorist on April 1 in Bay Ridge died from her injuries. The crash occurred on a section of Fourth Avenue where DOT plans to install a pedestrian fence, and in a precinct where NYPD writes a speeding ticket once every five days.

At least two pedestrians were killed by drivers in April in the 68th Precinct, which wrote 63 speeding tickets in 2012. State Senator Marty Golden, whose district encompasses the precinct, is opposed to automated speed enforcement.

The victim, a 30-year-old female whose name was not published, was struck by the driver of a Honda sedan as she attempted to cross mid-block on Fourth near 86th Street, according to an April 2 story from the Brooklyn Daily. The impact broke one of her arms and caused severe head trauma.

The FDNY said they took the victim to Lutheran Medical Center where she later died from her injuries.

An NYPD spokeswoman said that the driver was uninjured and remained at the scene. An investigation is ongoing, but there is no evidence of a crime.

“It looks like it was just an accident,” the spokeswoman said.

A different version of the Brooklyn Daily story first appeared in the Brooklyn Paper, which reported that the victim was transported in cardiac arrest.

Coverage of the crash makes no mention of how fast the driver was going before the collision. A pedestrian’s chance of survival when hit by a vehicle decreases dramatically as motorist speed increases. Speeding was the leading cause of NYC traffic deaths in 2012, according to DOT.

DOT is planning a slate of changes to Fourth Avenue aimed at slowing down drivers and reducing traffic injuries and deaths. According to reports, one element of the proposal is a pedestrian fence, similar to those in Midtown Manhattan, to prevent “jaywalking.”

As usual, NYPD is AWOL on traffic calming. The 68th Precinct, where this crash occurred, and where an elderly woman was killed by a driver in a Fourth Avenue crosswalk on April 30, issued just 63 speeding tickets in 2012.

Both fatalities happened in Marty Golden’s state senate district. Golden has blocked the city from implementing a speed camera pilot program, though NYPD supports automated enforcement. Golden can be reached at 718-238-6044 and @SenMartyGolden.

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Motorist Kills Senior in District of Speed Cam Foe Marty Golden [Updated]

Update: The Home Reporter reports that the elderly victim of this crash has died.

Residents of Bay Ridge are again calling for measures to rein in reckless motorists after a Tuesday crash that sent at least one pedestrian to the hospital. The crash occurred in the district of State Senator Marty Golden, who has blocked a widely-supported speed camera program from being implemented in NYC.

The 68th Precinct wrote 63 speeding tickets in 2012. State Senator Marty Golden, whose district encompasses the precinct, is opposed to automated speed enforcement.

Published reports say the driver of a Cadillac Escalade struck an elderly woman while making a right turn from 82nd Street onto Fourth Avenue. Brooklyn Daily reports that the victim was declared likely to die.

NYPD and FDNY had few details. The NYPD public information office said the victim was an elderly Asian female, whose identity has not been released. An FDNY spokesperson told Streetsblog responders got the call at 10:39 a.m., and said two victims were transported. FDNY had no information on the condition of either victim. WNBC was the only media outlet we found with a report that two victims were struck.

The NYPD spokesperson said no summonses were issued, and that “no criminality is suspected.”

The Brooklyn Eagle reported that Council Member Vincent Gentile was at the scene:

Gentile said he was told that the victim was in “very bad shape” and that she had been rushed by ambulance to Lutheran Medical Center. “She apparently hit her head hard on the pavement when she was hit by the car,” Gentile said.

“The pedestrian went up in the air and came back down,” said one witness, to the Home Reporter. An NYPD spokesperson told the Brooklyn Daily that police “had no evidence that the motorist was speeding or breaking any other traffic laws,” though “[w]itnesses pointed out that the woman was already in the crosswalk when struck, and state law grants right of way to pedestrians over drivers when both have the light.”

The 68th Precinct, where the crash occurred, issued just 63 speeding citations in 2012 [PDF]. Locals are pushing for improved traffic enforcement, including the use of speed cameras, on Fourth Avenue.

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