Skip to content

Posts from the Brooklyn Category

9 Comments

No More Stalling: DOT Redesigns Gerritsen Ave After Teen Cyclist’s Death

In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT

By next month, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian islands, and bus boarding islands. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will install a two-way protected bike lane and other traffic-calming measures on Gerritsen Avenue, the street next to Marine Park in southern Brooklyn where a drunk driver killed a teenage cyclist this summer [PDF].

On the night of July 19, Thomas Groarke, 24, overtook another driver on the left and sped into the wide painted median on Gerritsen near Gotham Avenue, then fatally struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike southbound, the Daily News reported. Three other people were injured in the crash. Groarke’s blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.

Gerritsen Avenue is a wide street with a speeding problem and a history of traffic injuries and deaths. Since 2007, there have been four fatalities on the street, according to DOT, including three in the past two years. After the deaths of Joseph Ciresi and James Miro last fall, the Times looked at the street’s reputation as a drag strip.

The city has tinkered with the design of Gerritsen Avenue before. After a motorist severely injured 12-year-old cyclist Anthony Turturro in 2004 at the same intersection where Ryan was killed, the city implemented a four-lane-to-three-lane road diet with a painted median. In 2008 and 2009, the city floated concrete pedestrian islands and painted bike lanes for Gerritsen but backed off after local residents protested the changes. The only change implemented was to narrow the medians to make room for a “wide parking lane” (instead of painted bike lanes).

Read more…

20 Comments

Bike-Share Already Getting More Use Than Park Slope’s Free Parking Spots

Citi Bike is getting a lot of use in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller

Citi Bike use is high and rising in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller

The new bike-share stations in Brooklyn south of Atlantic Avenue are getting a lot more use than your average free on-street parking space, according to recent Citi Bike data compiled by Carroll Gardens resident Viktor Geller [PDF]. Geller addressed the report to Brooklyn Community Board 6, which is holding a hearing on Thursday in response to complaints about bike-share stations replacing curbside car parking.

Citi Bike and DOT publish usage data online each month. In the neighborhoods in CB 6, stations were just installed this summer, and Geller’s data shows usage is still on the rise.

Stations in some neighborhoods are used more intensely than others. In Park Slope, it’s typical for two or three bike-share trips to begin or end at each dock each day. In Red Hook, the average is lower — more like one bike-share “event” at each dock per day. But even so, since each car parking space is equivalent to about eight bike-share docks, that means about eight bike-share trips either begin or end each day in the space one car would occupy — and that’s in the area with the least amount of use.

Read more…

20 Comments

Tell CB 6 and Mayor de Blasio That Bike-Share Belongs on Brooklyn Streets

Last week a bunch of people showed up at a Brooklyn Community Board 6 meeting to complain about Citi Bike, which has recently expanded into Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Red Hook. Bike-share wasn’t on the agenda, but that didn’t stop one hothead from screaming in the faces of board members about the perceived threat to free on-street car parking.

It’s the same old story: People believe they are entitled to park for free on public streets, and anything that diminishes the quantity of free on-street parking is infringing on their “rights.”

You can add your name to a petition to remind officials that bike-share is a welcome transportation option for New Yorkers who live, work, and play in those neighborhoods — most of whom don’t own cars. Posted by “Citizens for Citi Bike,” the petition will be sent to CB 6, Council Member Brad Lander, Borough President Eric Adams, and DOT.

It might be a good idea to send it to City Hall as well. Asked by WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough last Friday why bike-share docks are “taking precious parking” in Brooklyn, Mayor de Blasio minced words:

Read more…

31 Comments

An NYPD Light Tower Has Blocked the Flushing Ave Bike Lane for Three Days

This light tower has forced cyclists to contend with motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue all week. Photo: Matthew Kime

This NYPD light tower continues to force cyclists into motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue. Photo: Matthew Kime

An idle NYPD light tower has been sitting in the Flushing Avenue bike lane all week, forcing cyclists into motor vehicle traffic.

Flushing Avenue’s westbound bike lane runs along the north curb. It will eventually be upgraded to a two-way protected lane, but right now is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a painted buffer. Commuters found the light trailer blocking the bike lane just east of Navy Street on Monday.

Responding to a 311 complaint, NYPD said officers were notified to move the light on Monday afternoon. But it was still there as of this morning.

Motorists have injured four cyclists on Flushing Avenue in the vicinity of Navy Street — from one block to the west to two blocks to the east — this year through July, according to city crash data.

The block of Flushing between Navy Street and North Eliot Place is located in the 88th Precinct. Messages left with the 88th Precinct and the NYPD public information office were not returned as of this writing.

15 Comments

3,000 People Join Sister of Lauren Davis to Call for Bike Lane on Classon Ave

A driver struck and killed a cyclist at Classon Avenue at Lexington Avenue. Image” Google Maps

A driver struck and killed Lauren Davis at Classon Avenue at Lexington Avenue in April. Image: Google Maps

Danielle Davis lost her sister in April. Lauren Davis was biking on Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill when a driver turned left across her path, killing her. Now Danielle is calling on the city to add a bike lane to the street where Lauren lost her life.

With the support of Transportation Alternatives, she launched an online petition yesterday addressed to local City Council members Laurie Cumbo and Robert Cornegy and Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 3. (Classon Avenue also runs through the district of Council Member Stephen Levin, as well as community board districts 8 and 9.) In just one day, the petition has amassed more than 3,300 signatures.

Lauren, 34, was biking in the direction of traffic at around 8:35 a.m. on April 15 when the driver of a 2015 Fiat turned left off eastbound Lexington Avenue and killed her. Police initially reported that Davis was biking against traffic, an account that was later proven false by an eyewitness.

DOT converted Classon from two moving lanes to one in 2012 but maintained extra-wide parking lanes instead installing of a bike lane. The street remains prone to reckless driving by motorists seeking speedy passage to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Between 2009 and 2014, 119 pedestrians and 84 cyclist were injured on Classon Avenue between Washington Avenue and Flushing Avenue, and two pedestrians and two cyclists were killed, according to Vision Zero View.

Read more…

10 Comments

Carlos Menchaca Wants to Make Fourth Avenue Protected Bike Lane a Reality

With DOT preparing a major capital project for Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue next year, it’s now or never for a protected bike lane on this important route linking Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Downtown Brooklyn. Fortunately, local Council Member Carlos Menchaca has been on the case for months, talking with local residents, community groups, and DOT about how the Fourth Avenue project can make the street safe for biking.

Carlos Menchaca

Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

I spoke to Menchaca today about this effort. He said that DOT has been cool to the idea but hasn’t closed the door on a Fourth Avenue protected lane, which he said is “the next natural step” for safety along the corridor. Here’s our interview, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about the efforts to put a protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue.

This community has been thinking about Fourth Avenue and the enhancements for such a long time now. Community Board 7 came out in favor of the enhancements that you see now, on the Fourth Avenue corridor from Atlantic over to Bay Ridge.

March 30 marked, for me, the moment where we really got together. Both [my] staff and some community members had been talking about it. We sat down and said, “What do we want to see here?” We had been briefed by DOT in the last year, 2014 and 2015, and there was some clarity that the enhancements that are there are working. But at the end of March, we said we really wanted to push the bike lane forward. We met with Keith Bray and the DOT staff in early April, and there were some initial positive responses to the concept. Then, in June, we got a cold response, and so where we are right now is [trying] to better understand [DOT’s] analysis, and compare it to a lot of the community’s analysis.

Read more…

11 Comments

Private Trash Hauler Critically Injures Cyclist in Flatbush [Updated]

A private trash carter struck and critically injured a cyclist at this intersection last night. Photo: Google Maps

A private trash carter struck and critically injured a cyclist at this intersection last night. Photo: Google Maps

Update: NYPD identified the victim of this crash as Derrick Belton, 44. Belton died from his injuries on August 21, according to police.

A private garbage truck driver struck and critically injured a 44-year-old cyclist at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Lefferts Avenue in Flatbush last night, highlighting the pervasive public safety risks in the commercial waste carting industry.

The victim, whom police did not name, remains in critical condition today, according to NYPD’s public information office. The driver, Steveson Thanus, received “multiple summonses,” though the police spokesperson could not specify the violations.

Police arrived at 11:23 p.m. last night to find the victim “laying in the roadway” with “severe head trauma,” the spokesperson said.

According to NYPD, the cyclist was riding south on the east sidewalk of Albany Avenue last night when he entered the intersection. The spokesperson said the driver was “going westbound on Lefferts approaching Albany” at the moment of impact, and the victim “collided with the right rear tire area of [the truck].”

The garbage hauler was driving a white Mack dump truck registered to La Vega Carting Corporation, located on Highland Boulevard in Cypress Hills, NYPD said.

La Vega is a small company with three employees. Co-owner Edwin Rosario told Streetsblog the truck had a broken rear light at the time of the crash. It’s not clear if this contributed to the collision, but if Thanus was backing up, the equipment failure could have been a factor.

Read more…

23 Comments

Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Strikes Couple, Kills Man on Flatbush Avenue

Angel and Samantha Sagardia were struck by a commuter van while attempting to cross the wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Mall. Photo: Google Maps

A dollar van driver struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia, killing Angel, on this wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Shopping Center before fleeing. Photo: Google Maps

Drivers killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in Queens and Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. In one case, police are still looking for the driver of a minibus who fled the scene after striking a couple, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

At about 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Angel Sagardia and his wife Samantha Sagardia, 50, were crossing Flatbush Avenue from west to east between Avenue U and Avenue V, near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, when the driver of a Ford Omnibus dollar van struck them both.

Police believe an unlicensed man was driving the illegal commuter van above when he struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia. Photo: PIX

Police believe an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel of this minibus when he struck the Sagardias. Photo: WPIX

The couple was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where Angel passed away from severe head trauma. Samantha remains in critical condition.

Police located the vehicle on Saturday in East Flatbush near the corner of Rogers Avenue and Tilden Avenue, but the motorist — who WPIX reports is believed to be an unlicensed Haitian immigrant who was driving the dollar van illegally — remains at large. Witnesses told WCBS that the driver was speeding and did not stop after he struck the Sagardias, and motorists often drive above the speed limit on this section of Flatbush. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

In 2015, five pedestrians were injured on Flatbush Avenue at the intersections with Avenues U and V, according to Vision Zero View. Because it is such a dangerous location for pedestrians, Flatbush Avenue is a priority corridor and the crossing with Avenue U is a priority intersection in DOT’s Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Acton Plan [PDF].

Friday’s fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct, led by Captain Thomas W. Burke, which has given out 242 tickets for speeding through so far this year the end of July, according to NYPD data. The 63rd Precinct Community Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room.

It was the second fatal hit-and-run this year involving a commuter van, according to data compiled by Streetsblog, after 16-year-old Alexa Smith was killed in Rosedale in February.

Council Member Alan Maisel, who represents the area where the Sagardias were struck, said that illegal dollar vans have been “causing havoc” in his district for at least 15 years. “They speed, they throw trash out the window, they stop wherever they want to stop, block driveways, they urinate because they have no bathrooms that are accessible to them. They’re a menace,” he told Streetsblog this afternoon. “It’s a question of having the Taxi and Limousine Commission enforce the laws and, for whatever reason, the last two administrations have not taken [illegal dollar vans] as seriously as they should.”

Read more…

30 Comments

DOT Reveals a Flatbush Ave Pedestrian Safety Plan By Atlantic and Fourth

DOT's proposal would remove double-right turns off Atlantic Avenue. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for pedestrian islands, curb extensions, and fewer turn lanes off Atlantic Avenue. Image: DOT

Last night DOT presented its initial concept for pedestrian safety improvements near the convergence of Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues in Brooklyn [PDF].

The intersection is located at the center of Brooklyn’s largest transit hub, where the Long Island Railroad meets eight subway lines and four MTA bus routes. The Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Barclays Center are short walks away. It’s also overrun by motor vehicles, with three wide, two-way arterial roads — all truck routes — making for one the city’s most hellacious walking environments.

Pedestrians must contend with long, angled crossings and lots of turning drivers. Since 2008, four pedestrians and one cyclist have been killed in the project area, which extends along Flatbush from Lafayette Avenue to Atlantic. Between 2010 and 2014, 57 pedestrians and 21 cyclists were injured, and 51 percent of the pedestrian injuries happened while the victim was crossing with the signal, according to DOT.

At a meeting in January about public space improvements to Times Plaza, the triangle between the three big roads, attendees told DOT and Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner that safer pedestrian conditions had to be the first priority, or else no one would use the space.

Pedestrians crossing the Flatbush-Atlantic intersection must contend with some of Brooklyn's heaviest motor vehicle traffic. Photo: Google Maps

Pedestrians crossing the Flatbush-Atlantic intersection must contend with long, angled crosswalks and heavy motor vehicle traffic. Photo: Google Maps

Last night, DOT showed plans for five median pedestrian islands and several curb extensions to shorten crossing distances around Flatbush and Atlantic. The agency also proposes reducing the number of right turn lanes off Atlantic onto Flatbush from two to one. That would reduce risk for pedestrians crossing Flatbush, who would also get a head start with a leading pedestrian interval.

Read more…

7 Comments

Tonight: Speak Up for Safer Crossings at Flatbush/Atlantic/Fourth

Forest City Ratner and DOT want to turn Times Plaza by the Barclays Center into an attractive public space. Photo: Google Maps

Forest City Ratner and DOT want to turn Times Plaza by the Barclays Center into an attractive public space. Photo: Google Maps

A DOT public workshop tonight aims to get the ball rolling on safety improvements at the monstrous intersections where Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues converge.

At a meeting in January, Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner showed a proposal for benches, tables, and planters in Times Plaza — the pedestrian island in the middle of Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth. Attendees questioned the wisdom of moving forward with public space enhancements without first making it safe to walk to the plaza. Last year alone, six pedestrians and one cyclist were injured at the intersections around the plaza, according to Vision Zero View.

Since then, advocates with Transportation Alternatives’ “People First on Atlantic Avenue” campaign have pushed for safety fixes at the location. This past Saturday, TA volunteers set up a temporary public plaza to draw attention to the space’s potential and the treacherous conditions inhibiting it.

At tonight’s workshop, you can tell DOT what’s wrong with the intersections and brainstorm safety improvements. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Brooklyn YWCA, 30 Third Avenue.