Skip to content

Posts from the "East New York" Category

10 Comments

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.

Read more…

5 Comments

Imagining a New Atlantic Avenue for de Blasio’s New York

atlantic_parking

With the dangerous, highway-like conditions on Atlantic Avenue, much of the surrounding area is under-developed. A chain link fence surrounds this parking lot near Franklin Avenue.

Atlantic Avenue is one of New York’s most prominent streets, and in most respects, it is completely broken.

Stretching more than ten miles, Atlantic cuts through several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens while functioning mainly as an urban highway for private motorists and truckers making their way east, toward the Van Wyck and Long Island, or west, to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

It is plagued with constant, speeding traffic. The avenue’s wide, highway-like conditions induce drivers to floor it, and as a result Atlantic is one of the most dangerous streets in New York City. When Council Member Steve Levin took a speed gun out to Atlantic, he found 88 percent of drivers were going more than 10 miles per hour over the limit. From 2008 to 2012, 25 people were killed on the 7.6-mile stretch of Atlantic between Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights and 76th Street in Woodhaven.

When the city announced that Atlantic would become the first street in the “arterial slow zone” program, with a 25 mph speed limit and re-timed traffic signals, it was welcome news. Atlantic is the kind of monster that has to be tamed if the de Blasio administration is going to achieve its Vision Zero street safety goals, and the new speed limit is a good first step.

In the long-run, though, Atlantic Avenue and the many other city streets like it will need much more comprehensive changes to not only eliminate traffic deaths, but also accommodate the economic growth and housing construction goals that City Hall is after.

Today, much of Atlantic Avenue is an eyesore, especially along the stretch east of Flatbush Avenue. It’s basically an unsightly speedway, and land values along the eastern portion of Atlantic have historically been depressed. Empty lots sit beside carwashes and parking lots. Grassy weeds poke up through a decrepit median. Some portions fall under the shadow of elevated train tracks — the Atlantic Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, which otherwise runs below ground.

Does it have to be this way? Can’t we imagine an Atlantic Avenue that is an asset to the neighborhoods which surround it, rather than a challenge to work around?

Read more…

No Comments

No Charges Filed for Pedestrian Deaths in Jamaica and East New York

NYPD says the department doesn't know who had the right of way when Sheila Rivera was fatally struck by a driver on Pennsylvania Avenue at Glenmore Avenue in East New York. Image: Google Maps

Editor’s note: As we were finishing up this story, Gothamist reported that a 36-year-old cyclist was killed this morning in Claremont, and that another cyclist struck by a truck driver in Downtown Brooklyn earlier this month has died from his injuries. We will have more on these fatalities in a future post.

Two pedestrians were killed by motorists in Brooklyn and Queens Monday. No charges were filed by NYPD in either case, and as usual, other than a routine bit of victim-blaming, details on these deadly acts of vehicular violence are scarce.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., 50-year-old Sheila Rivera was hit by the driver of a Honda SUV as she crossed Pennsylvania Avenue at Glenmore Avenue in East New York, according to Gothamist and the Daily News. Gothamist reported that Rivera lived seven blocks from the scene. She died at Brookdale Hospital.

The driver was reportedly traveling north on Pennsylvania Avenue at the time of the crash. It is not known how fast the driver was going, or who had the right of way. The NYPD public information office had no specifics on how the crash occurred. No summonses were issued and no charges were filed.

Sheila Rivera was killed in the 75th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Erik Martin Dilan.

At approximately 7:50 p.m., a man reported to be in his 40s was struck by the driver of a Honda SUV on Jamaica Avenue near 180th Street. Police told Gothamist and the Daily News that the victim was crossing mid-block. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. As of this morning his name had not been released by police. NYPD said no summonses were issued and no charges were filed.

This unidentified pedestrian victim was killed in the 103rd Precinct, and in the council district represented by Leroy Comrie.

Note that despite department policy that purportedly prohibits the release of information on traffic crashes, NYPD again offered details that point to the culpability of one of the dead victims, and nothing more. While police readily leak to the media that a pedestrian was struck by a motorist outside a crosswalk, driver speed is virtually never disclosed. If the pedestrian was struck while walking in a crosswalk, information on right of way is nearly impossible to extract.

A 2012 study by Transportation Alternatives found that 60 percent of fatal New York City pedestrian and cyclist crashes with known causes were the result of motorists breaking traffic laws. A 2010 DOT pedestrian safety report revealed that for serious crashes to which contributing factors were assigned, only 21.5 percent placed primary responsibility on “pedestrian error/confusion,” with the vast majority caused by driver inattention, failure to yield, and excessive speed.

Regardless of data showing that most pedestrians and cyclists struck by motorists were following traffic laws, those who read and watch daily coverage of NYC traffic crashes are left with the impression that most incidents are either blameless acts of nature or are precipitated by irresponsible behavior on the part of the injured or deceased victim.

19 Comments

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.

7 Comments

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.

2 Comments

Public Takes to Plazas in East New York and Fort Greene

Lights are strung on the Christmas tree at New Lots Triangle on Saturday. Photo: Stephen Miller

This weekend, three Brooklyn plazas became hubs of neighborhood activity.

In East New York, Saturday evening saw a community tree lighting, along with local performers and community organizations, at New Lots Triangle on Livonia Avenue. In prior years, the tree was situated in a tiny patch of asphalt between three streets, but in 2011 DOT expanded the plaza by reclaiming a small section of Ashford Street from motor vehicle traffic.

“The street was a real hazard for people,” said Catherine Green, founder and executive director of Arts East New York, which organized the evening’s events with Soul of Brooklyn and other partners. She added that the plaza has “changed the mindset of people in the neighborhood.”

After hosting a presentation and open house Thursday night, the Fulton Area Business Alliance BID set up shop in two public plazas – Fowler Square Plaza in Fort Greene on Saturday and Putnam Plaza in Clinton Hill on Sunday — to solicit input on a conceptual plan to revamp 26 blocks of Fulton Street in the BID service area.

Staff from architecture firms working pro bono through non-profit desigNYC joined the BID to get feedback from people walking past. Based on the responses it receives, FAB Alliance will adjust the plan, which focuses on street furniture, public space and redevelopment of key sites on Fulton Street.

“It’s a public plaza and this is a public process,” FAB Alliance manager Phillip Kellogg said. “What better way to engage people?”

FAB Alliance is planning a Christmas concert by the Lafayette Avenue Inspirational Ensemble gospel choir in Fowler Square Plaza on Saturday, December 15, at 2:00 p.m.

DOT hosted a planning session for New Lots Triangle in August, and is scheduled to present results from business surveys regarding Fowler Square Plaza to the Community Board 2 transportation committee on December 18. Permanent plaza reconstructions are proposed for both locations.

On Saturday, the FAB Alliance solicited feedback on plans for Fulton Street in Fort Greene's Fowler Square Plaza. Photo: Stephen Miller

3 Comments

Three Killed in Traffic in Three Days as City Council Dithers

Three pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes on consecutive days in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan this weekend.

When will Jessica Lappin and the City Council take action to stop the bloodshed on New York City streets?

At approximately 1:15 this morning, Andrew Schoonover, a 31-year-old from Florida, was struck by the driver of a city sanitation truck at the corner of Second Avenue and East 84th Street. NYPD told the Daily News and the Post that Schoonover tripped over trash bags and fell into the street. The driver was not charged.

Andrew Schoonover was at least the third pedestrian killed by a motorist in Jessica Lappin’s City Council district this year. In September, 65-year-old Pelagia Zingtapan was hit by a yellow cab driver, who was reportedly barreling through the intersection of 69th Street and First Avenue, horn blaring, at the time of the crash. In May, a 75-year-old man on crutches and wearing a reflective vest was run over by the driver of a box truck at First Avenue and 89th Street when he was caught in traffic as the signal changed.

In another serious crash, Elizabeth Brody, 28, suffered a brain injury in July when two yellow taxi drivers collided at Second Avenue and East 79th Street, sending one of the cabs spinning onto the sidewalk. No charges were reported filed in any of these crashes.

Lappin spoke at the City Council hearing on NYPD crash investigations in February. She was instrumental in opening up NYPD crash data, and has proposed a DOT office dedicated to road safety. But as of late, her agenda reflects a preoccupation with sidewalk bicycle riding and electric-assisted bikes, as reckless motorists continue to wreak havoc in her district and across the city. Twenty-nine pedestrians and six cyclists were killed by drivers in Lappin’s district between 1995 and 2009 (she was elected in 2005), while motorists injured 3,463 pedestrians and 974 cyclists during the same time span, according to DMV data compiled by Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat.

An unidentified man was killed in East New York Sunday afternoon, in the second of two fatal weekend hit-and-run crashes. CBS 2 reported that, according to NYPD, the 42-year-old victim was walking south on Vermont Place at around 1:15 p.m. when he was hit by the driver of a livery cab, who was westbound on Highland Boulevard. The man died at Brookdale Hospital.

Read more…

1 Comment

James Neverson Killed by Motorist in East New York; No Charges Filed

An MTA bus driver was struck and killed on his way to work in East New York Tuesday morning.

James Neverson. Photo via Daily News

James Neverson, 63, of Canarsie, had parked his car and was crossing at the intersection of East New York Avenue and Alabama Avenue, near a bus depot, when he was hit by the driver of a Toyota sedan who was northbound on Alabama, according to reports. He died at Brookdale Hospital. From the Daily News:

A worker at the depot said Neverson had been with the MTA for 21 years. He also said that cars often speed past the depot after exiting the Jackie Robinson Parkway, which terminates one block east of the bus garage.

The News, the Post and DNAinfo all note that, according to NYPD, the driver remained at the scene. This is a critical piece of information, as it all but ensures that, regardless of other factors, a city motorist who kills a pedestrian or cyclist will not be charged criminally by police or prosecutors, as long as the driver is not legally drunk.

This fatal crash occurred in the 75th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Stephen Capasso, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 75th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 1000 Sutter Avenue. Call the precinct at 718-827-3529 for information.

The City Council district where James Neverson was killed is represented by Erik Martin Dilan. To encourage Dilan to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7284 or Edilan@council.nyc.gov.

James Neverson was the 35th pedestrian or cyclist known killed in Brooklyn this year. Of those 35 crashes, one sober driver is known to have been charged by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes for causing a death.

8 Comments

Envisioning a Neighborhood Bike Plan for East New York and Brownsville

After local residents and community organizations began organizing to bring bike lanes to East New York and Brownsville last year, NYC DOT is developing a plan to stripe the first bike routes directly through these neighborhoods, and more could be on the way.

Mapping out the next phase of East New York bike routes. Photo: Ben Fried

The process underway in eastern Brooklyn offers an intriguing glimpse at how the city can develop neighborhood-scale bike plans — especially promising for areas with high rates of chronic disease, where safer biking and walking can encourage more physical activity.

About 20 people gathered at the YMCA on Jamaica Avenue yesterday evening to discuss what’s holding East New York residents back from biking more, and to share ideas with DOT and the Department of Health about how to improve local cycling conditions. They heard from DOT about two bike routes that are in the works and hashed out where they think more bike lanes should go.

The Department of Health is taking an active role in East New York because residents have higher-than-average incidences of chronic diseases like diabetes. According to department surveys, local residents report lower than average levels of physical activity, and DOH has identified street design as a major factor. Currently there are no bike lanes in the neighborhood, and many street crossings pose a challenge for pedestrians.

Working with local organizations like the Brownsville Partnership, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and the Pitkin Avenue BID, DOH and DOT put on a group ride around the neighborhood last October and distributed surveys to find out how local residents want to improve local biking conditions.

As a result of those surveys, DOT identified two routes to serve as the backbone of the neighborhood bike network: a north-south route on Mother Gaston Boulevard and an east-west route on Pitkin Avenue. Both would consist of painted bike lanes between the parking lane and traffic lane where the streets are sufficiently wide, and sharrows where the streets are narrower. DOT has also mapped out locations for bike racks, which are currently very scarce in the neighborhood. The tentative plan is to show the bike routes to Community Board 16 this fall in preparation for spring 2013 implementation.

Read more…

2 Comments

Double Bus Lane and Sidewalk Extensions to Boost East New York Transit Hub

Federally-funded improvements at East New York's Broadway Junction would improve bus service and add pedestrian space at the important transit hub. Image: NYC DOT

The Department of Transportation unveiled a new design for one of Brooklyn’s most important transit hubs at a community board meeting Monday evening. By turning a single block of Van Sinderen Avenue into a one-way street, DOT plans to improve bus service and build new pedestrian space at East New York’s Broadway Junction, which serves five subway lines and five bus routes [PDF].

As it is, there’s not enough space near the main bus stop in the area. Livery cabs, which don’t have any designated curbside space, crowd out the buses that are supposed to stop there, forcing them to load and unload in traffic lanes. The sidewalk is packed with pedestrians and vendors; there’s no room available for badly-needed bus shelters and seating. Busy Van Sinderen is also difficult for pedestrians to cross.

Under DOT’s proposal, the block of Van Sinderen between Truxton and Fulton Streets would be converted into a one-way street with only one southbound lane reserved for private through traffic. Two lanes would be dedicated to buses, allowing plenty of room for them to pull around other buses loading and unloading at a different stop.

Both the sidewalk and the existing median would be expanded into the roadway, creating room for new bus shelters and dramatically shortening the distance to cross Van Sinderen.

Read more…