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Posts from the East New York Category

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Zero Vision in DOT’s “Great Streets” Plan to Revamp Atlantic Avenue

This is one of the marquee Vision Zero projects under the "Great Streets" initiative. Image: DOT [PDF]

This is one of the marquee Vision Zero projects under the “Great Streets” initiative. Image: DOT [PDF]

The de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero “Great Streets” initiative aims to improve safety on the city’s most dangerous streets. Will NYC DOT implement designs that are bold enough to save lives and prevent serious injuries? It’s not looking that way on Atlantic Avenue.

The Great Streets program dedicated $250 million to rebuild and redesign four arterial streets. Designs for three of the streets, including Atlantic, have now been revealed. The biggest change is coming to Queens Boulevard, which will be getting its first stretch of protected bike lanes later this summer and a full reconstruction in the next few years. A road diet and wider pedestrian medians on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, already implemented with temporary materials, will be cast in concrete. The redesign of the Grand Concourse has yet to be made public.

Atlantic Avenue covers more than 10 miles from the Brooklyn waterfront to the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens. DOT’s $60 million Great Streets project focuses on two miles from Pennsylvania Avenue to Rockaway Parkway. The bulk of the project is in East New York, where the de Blasio administration also wants to spur housing growth. (This part of Atlantic does not overlap with the section to the west where the Department of City Planning is studying potential changes and where street safety advocates are focusing their efforts.)

The first phase covers the western half of that two-mile zone, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Conduit Avenue. Here Atlantic is 90 feet wide, and the crash rate is higher than on 90 percent of Brooklyn streets, according to DOT [PDF]. Two pedestrians and one motor vehicle occupant have been killed on this 1.2-mile segment since 2009. From 2009 to 2013, 37 people suffered severe injuries, two-thirds of them car occupants. Of the 993 total traffic injuries, nine out of 10 were sustained by people in motor vehicles.

The design proposed by DOT will make Atlantic look nicer and probably yield a marginal improvement in safety, but it does not fundamentally alter the geometry of the street.

Read more…

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Woman on Brooklyn Sidewalk

This driver jumped the curb, hit a wall, two pedestrians, a livery cab and a tree, killing one person and injuring several others. NYPD filed no charges. Image: WABC

This driver jumped the curb, hit a wall, two pedestrians, a livery cab and a tree, killing one person and injuring several others. NYPD filed no charges. Image: WABC

NYPD filed no charges against a motorist who cut a swath of destruction through East New York, striking two people on a sidewalk and killing one of the victims.

The driver, in a Toyota Camry, was making a left turn at Pennsylvania Avenue and Cozine Avenue at around 10:30 a.m. on July 1 when she mounted the sidewalk, struck a wall, and hit two pedestrians, according to reports. The driver then hit a livery cab and a street tree before coming to a stop half a block away.

From WCBS:

A witness, named Amir, said a female pedestrian was dragged and pinned under the car.

He and other bystanders tried to help her.

“She wasn’t conscious so we weren’t sure if she was alive, we just saw her legs and knew it was bad,” Amir said. “If you see the jack underneath the car, we actually tried to jack the car up and noticed that we were dragging her as we jacked it up so we stopped.”

“The lady was horrified. She was traumatized and in shock,” another witness said.

Marcia Arthurs, 51, later died from severe trauma to her head and body. The second pedestrian, a 59-year-old man, was hospitalized with lacerations to his face. Four others were reported injured.

“The driver remained at the scene and wasn’t charged,” the Daily News reported.

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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.

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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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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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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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