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Posts from the Brownsville Category


NYPD: “No Criminality” When MTA Bus Driver Kills Senior and Leaves Scene

An MTA bus driver killed a senior at a Brooklyn intersection. The red arrow represents the approximate path of the bus, and the white arrow the approximate path of the victim, according to NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

An MTA bus driver killed a senior at a Brooklyn intersection. The red arrow represents the approximate path of the bus, and the white arrow the approximate path of the victim, according to NYPD’s account of the crash. Image: Google Maps

Update: Bus driver Paul Roper was charged with felony leaving the scene, failure to yield, and careless driving, according to NY1.

An MTA bus driver struck and killed a senior with a walker at a Brooklyn intersection and left the scene this morning. Though it was a hit-and-run crash and it appears likely the victim had the right of way, NYPD declared “no criminality” before investigators even located the driver.

According to reports and photos of the scene, the 70-year-old victim was crossing Fulton Street at Sackman Street south to north in or near an unmarked crosswalk, and the driver, traveling south on Sackman, turned east — left — onto Fulton, striking her with the rear wheels of the bus.

“(The bus driver) never stopped, just was just going,” witness Ramon Garcia told the Daily News. “He never realized what had happened. It’s a big machine. I guess you don’t feel something like that.”

The victim died at the scene. Her name has yet to be released. The woman lived in a nearby shelter and went by the nickname “Freckles,” according to DNAinfo. Update: The Times identified the victim as Carol Bell.

DNAinfo reported that police found the bus, which was out of service, at the East New York Bus Depot a short distance away. The Post said the driver was being questioned. Witnesses told DNAinfo the bus driver “stopped briefly and then continued driving.” To secure a conviction for leaving the scene, New York State law requires prosecutors to prove a driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred.

There are no traffic signals at Fulton and Sackman. According to attorney Steve Vaccaro, based on information released by NYPD the bus driver would have had to stop for a stop sign and yield to any traffic in the intersection that was already there. If the victim was in an unmarked crosswalk at the intersection, she would have had “an absolute right of way over any motor vehicle,” Vaccaro told Streetsblog.

If the woman was determined to be outside the unmarked crosswalk, mid-block crossings of Fulton are permitted on the block where the crash occurred, since the intersection with Sackman is not signalized, Vaccaro said.

Though the driver left the scene and may have violated the Right of Way Law, NYPD told DNAinfo police “did not immediately suspect criminality.” The Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, makes it a misdemeanor for a driver to injure or kill someone who is walking or biking with the right of way. NYPD has applied the law only a few dozen times since it took effect in 2014.

This morning’s crash is the first reported incident this year in which an MTA bus driver killed a pedestrian with the right of way. There were eight such fatalities in 2014. The crash comes after City Hall reached a settlement in a suit filed by the Transport Workers Union, which spent much of the year trying to gut the Right of Way Law. The settlement amounted to a clarification of the law, but the TWU trumpeted it as proof that bus drivers were wrongly arrested for killing people who were following traffic rules.

Today’s crash occurred in the 73rd Precinct, in Community Board District 16, and in the City Council district represented by Rafael Espinal.

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Street Seats and Bike Lanes Come to Brownsville and East New York

The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn't even complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn’t complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller

Livable streets improvements are rolling out for residents of Brownsville and East New York. Two new Street Seats have popped up just blocks from each other on Pitkin Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard. Meanwhile, DOT is installing the neighborhood’s latest round of bike lanes.

After a community-based planning process that began in 2011, the first phase of bike lanes in Brownsville and East New York was installed in 2013, followed by a second batch last year. The latest round focuses on east-west routes [PDF]: Pitkin Avenue should be finished soon, DOT said, and striping on Blake and Dumont avenues should begin in the next few weeks.

The neighborhood also got its first Street Seats, installations that convert a curbside parking space into seating and greenery maintained by a local organization or business. On Mother Gaston Boulevard near Belmont Avenue, the Brownsville Partnership is sponsoring a Street Seat in front of the MGB POPS local pop-up market.

Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller

Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller

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Last Chance to Tell DOT How to Make Linden Boulevard Safer

DOT is accepting ideas to fix Linden Boulevard online until Tuesday. Map: DOT

Linden Boulevard is a dangerous relic of a street, a surface-level highway that rivals Queens Boulevard for sheer awfulness. If you have ideas about what needs to change on Linden Boulevard, DOT wants to hear about it.

In February, DOT hosted two public workshops for its Linden Boulevard redesign project, which covers 3.8 miles between Kings Highway, in East Flatbush, and South Conduit Avenue, near the Queens border.

Like Queens Boulevard, Linden Boulevard has center-running through lanes and service roads. People often don’t have enough time to cross the street, and the speed limit is still set at 35 mph. Since 2009, seven people have been killed in crashes along the project area, according to DOT [PDF].

The online survey and interactive map for the project will be accepting feedback for a few more days before closing down on Tuesday, April 7. The clock is ticking.


Linden Boulevard Claims Another Life — Safety Workshop Tomorrow

Image: Google Street View

Linden Boulevard at Ashford Street, looking west. Image: Google Street View

On Monday night in East New York, a truck driver turning left from Ashford Street struck and killed Regina Stevenson, 41, as she crossed Linden Boulevard, one of the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn.

According to NYPD’s public information office, the driver was turning onto westbound Linden Boulevard when he hit Stevenson, who was crossing north to south. While Stevenson would have had the walk signal, no charges have been filed — the driver was cited only for two equipment violations. NYPD said Stevenson was crossing “diagonally, outside the marked crosswalk,” so evidently, the police and the Brooklyn DA have decided the protection of the law did not extend to her.

Stevenson is the seventh person killed in traffic on Linden Boulevard since 2009. The street is extremely wide, making it all the more natural for people on foot to leave the confines of the crosswalk at some point. Its concrete medians are too skinny to provide much refuge, and many don’t actually extend through the crosswalk.

Last week, DOT held the first of two public workshops to kick off a safety overhaul of Linden Boulevard. A second workshop will be held tomorrow night at the Brownsville Recreation Center.

The project will examine the 3.8 miles of Linden Boulevard between Kings Highway, in East Flatbush, and South Conduit Avenue, near the Queens border [PDF]. This stretch is extremely wide, with “almost highway-like” dimensions, says DOT project manager Chris Brunson. Crossing distances range from 150 to 200 feet.

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Why Is NYPD Defending Hit-and-Run Drivers to the Press?

NYPD declined to speculate on whether a driver was speeding before a fatal hit-and-run crash, yet told the press the victim was jaywalking. Image: News 12

Update: The victim in the Rockaway Parkway crash was identified as Alex Davis, according to DNAinfo. Police said he was hit by the driver of a Ford Mustang. The driver remained at large as of November 7.

Hit-and-run drivers have killed two New York City pedestrians in the past week. After each crash NYPD sources either defended the motorist or blamed the victim in the press.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. last Thursday, the driver of a private sanitation truck ran over a 59-year-old man on Canal Street in Chinatown, according to NYPD. The man’s body was found near Centre Street, but police didn’t know where the collision occurred. NYPD had not released the victim’s name as of this morning, and no arrests had been made.

“It was not immediately clear if the driver was aware that a pedestrian had been hit, police said,” reported DNAinfo. To see justice done for this victim and his loved ones, this is a critical detail.

To secure a conviction against a hit-and-run driver in New York State, prosecutors must prove the motorist knew or had reason to know he hit someone, causing personal injury. Thanks to state laws that favor reckless drivers, when a New York motorist strikes a pedestrian and leaves the scene, “I didn’t see him” is not an admission of guilt, but a potent defense strategy. So in effect, NYPD has offered a preemptive defense for the motorist who claimed this person’s life.

In the second crash, a hit-and-run driver in a “dark-colored sedan” killed a 59-year-old man on Rockaway Parkway near Winthrop Avenue, in Brownsville, early Saturday. The victim’s identity is still being withheld pending family notification, NYPD said, and the driver remains at large.

Local residents told NY1 that speeding is rampant on the segment of Rockaway Parkway where Saturday’s crash occurred.

“If we were able to put a mid-block crosswalk and a light that split it right down the middle, tragedies like this wouldn’t happen because people would have an option to cross,” one area resident said.

“This intersection is never safe. It’s always somebody getting hit by a car. It’s always a child getting clipped by a car a vehicle. Everybody’s always speeding, not trying to stop at the lights. Everybody’s just in a rush,” another said.

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Slow Zone, Next Round of Bike Routes on Tap for Brownsville, East New York

Caption. Image: DOT

Blue lines show where new bike lanes and shared lane markings will be installed in East New York and Brownsville. Orange lines show existing shared lane markings, while red lines show existing bike lanes. Image: DOT

The fledgling bike lane network in Brownsville and East New York will continue to grow. The second of three rounds of painted on-street bike lanes — mapped out in a planning process initiated by neighborhood residents — is set to be installed by the end of the year, pending the support of Community Boards 5 and 16 later this month.

The neighborhood, which already has a 25 mph arterial slow zone along Atlantic Avenue, is also set to receive its first 20 mph neighborhood Slow Zone this summer [PDF]. Both community boards joined the Brownsville Partnership, an initiative of the non-profit Community Solutions, in applying for the Slow Zone. The project is bounded by Sutter, Rockaway, Livonia, and Pennsylvania Avenues and averages nearly 72 traffic injuries annually, according to DOT. There are two NYCHA complexes and four schools within its borders.

The bike lane plan [PDF] adds 14.5 miles of striped bike lanes and shared lane markings to a meshwork of north-south and east-west streets, including Pitkin, Blake, and Dumont Avenues, and Hinsdale Street, Snediker Avenue, Thomas Boyland Street, and Saratoga Avenue. While it contains no protected lanes, the plan would create a denser and better connected neighborhood grid of streets with space marked for biking.

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Eyes on the Street: Brownsville Celebrates Its New Bike Lanes

Getting ready for this morning's bike ride at Brownsville Bike Shop. Photo: Brownsville Partnership

They may be just paint, but bike lanes and sharrows on New Lots Avenue, Pitkin Avenue, Mother Gaston Boulevard, Hendrix Street, and Schenck Avenue are the first step toward implementing a community-based plan for better bicycling in Brownsville. This morning, about 35 people took part in a celebratory ride of the neighborhood’s first bike lanes organized by the Brownsville Partnership.

Before this morning's bike ride on Mother Gaston Boulevard. Photo: Brownsville Partnership

In 2011, Bettie Kollock-Wallace, who now serves as chair of Community Board 16, wanted safer routes for bike rides she led with Brownsville seniors to Prospect Park. She worked with a  range of groups — including the Brownsville Partnership, Transportation Alternatives, Brookdale Hospital, the Brooklyn District Public Health Office, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and the Pitkin Avenue BID — to make it happen.

Within a year, DOT hosted public meetings asking residents to map out bike routes, and presented a plan to the community board. In February, the board voted to support the plan. “This is the best example of a true collaboration that I have seen in my years of community health work,” Brownsville Partnership’s Nupur Chaudhury said in a statement.

This morning’s ride began at the Brownsville Bike Shop on Mother Gaston Boulevard and ended at the Tilden Senior Center. DOT is also installing more than 600 bike racks in the neighborhood, and more bike-related events will be happening at the Brownsville Recreation Center this summer.


Brownsville Will Get Bike Lanes After Supportive Vote from CB 16

Brownsville is set to have extra asphalt converted to bike lanes after Community Board 16's supportive vote last night. Photosim: NYC DOT

Good news out of Brooklyn last night: After a community-driven process that started in 2011, Community Board 16 voted to support painted bike lanes and sharrows on 15 miles of Brownsville streets.

The proposal calls for bike lanes on New Lots Avenue, Pitkin Avenue, Mother Gaston Boulevard, and a north/south pair on Hendrix Street and Schenck Avenue. DOT is also in the process of installing more than 600 bike racks in the neighborhood and community partners are hosting bike rides and helmet fittings.

The effort to bring bike lanes to Brownsville was started by Bettie Kollock-Wallace, who now serves as CB 16’s chair. Kollock-Wallace began working with the Brownsville Partnership and the Brooklyn District Public Health Office, which reached out to community members, Transportation Alternatives, and DOT to formulate a plan for bike lanes.

Community Board 5, covering East New York, is expected to vote on the plan soon. Its transportation committee supported an earlier, less comprehensive version of the plan in November. The lanes are slated for installation this spring, according to the Brownsville Partnership.


Brooklyn CB 16 Committee Votes to Bring Bike Lanes to Brownsville

The beginnings of the neighborhood bike network for Brownsville and East New York would repurpose extra asphalt for painted bike lanes on Pitkin Avenue and four other streets. Photosim: NYC DOT

The transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 16 last night voted in favor of a plan to stripe Brownsville’s first bike lanes, reports Nupur Chaudhury of the local non-profit Brownsville Partnership.

The plan presented by NYC DOT would stripe four bike routes in Brownsville and East New York: on New Lots Avenue, Pitkin Avenue, Mother Gaston Boulevard, and the north/south pair of Hendrix Street and Schenck Avenue. The New Lots and Hendrix/Schenck routes were originally slated for a future round of striping, but DOT was able to bump up the installation schedule to 2013, according to Chaudhury. “It means there’s two east/west routes and a north/south route in both East New York and Brownsville,” she said.

These bike lanes aren’t top-of-the-line infrastructure — they’ll provide stripes and, in some places, just sharrows, not physical protection — but they’re a milestone for two eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods that currently lack any on-street bike routes to speak of. The sight of bike infrastructure is still new enough here that when DOT began putting in the area’s first bike racks (they’ve installed 200 in the CB 16 district since the summer of 2011), Chaudhury heard some residents express confusion about what they were for. With the beginnings of a neighborhood bicycle network in place, getting around Brownsville and East New York by bike won’t seem so unusual.

The Brownsville Partnership is one of several neighborhood organizations, along with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation and the Pitkin Avenue BID, that have joined with DOT and the Department of Health to make local streets more bike-friendly. The community workshops and events they put on starting in 2011 led to this point and will provide the basis for more improvements to come.

Next up: The proposal goes before CB 16’s full board meeting on January 22. DOT will also be going back to CB 5 with the current plan, which includes more routes than the version approved by the board’s transportation committee last fall. Chaudhury says installation this spring and summer is looking likely.


East New York and Brownsville on the Cusp of Getting New Bike Lanes

A snafu at last night's Brooklyn Community Board 5 meeting delayed a vote for bike lanes on Pitkin Avenue until next month. Image: NYC DOT

After more than a year of collaboration between residents, community groups, DOT, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the first project in a new round bike lanes for Brownsville and East New York is almost in the books and ready to be installed next year. The proposal is for simple lines on the pavement — not protected bike lanes — but, along with a road diet on Pennsylvania Avenue, it would bring safer conditions to parts of eastern Brooklyn that currently have next to no bike infrastructure.

At Community Board 5’s transportation committee meeting Tuesday evening, DOT presented the proposal to bring a combination of painted bicycle lanes and sharrows to more than two miles of Pitkin Avenue. East of Pennsylvania Avenue to Fountain Avenue, DOT is proposing dedicated lanes, while the narrower road west of Pennsylvania Avenue will have shared lanes to Legion Street.

Although an exact implementation schedule has not been set, DOT will soon be developing its work program for 2013, and the Pitkin Avenue bike lanes can be included, likely in the spring, according to DOT staff at the meeting.

“We’re excited,” CB 5 District Manager Walter Campbell said after DOT’s presentation. “I think it’s terrific that we can get more people to ride their bikes,” adding, “Pitkin Avenue is a great place to start.”

The other bike route identified by DOT and local residents based on community workshops this summer is Mother Gaston Boulevard, home to the neighborhood’s only bike shop, Brownsville Bikes. DOT has not yet presented formal designs for a bike lane on Mother Gaston, which will come in future phases.

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