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Posts from the East New York Category

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Atlantic Avenue Speedway Claims Life of Rodney Graham, 49

Early Sunday morning, Rodney Graham was killed while crossing Atlantic Avenue when he was struck twice by separate motorists. Street safety advocates are calling on the city to implement significant design changes to prevent more loss of life.

Graham, 49, was crossing Atlantic at Rockaway Avenue in East New York at around 4:20 a.m. Citing unnamed police sources, the Daily News reported that he was crossing against the light. Graham was rushed to a nearby hospital but did not survive. The first driver who hit him faces no charges and the second fled the scene.

Rodney Graham, 49, was killed early Sunday while crossing this dangerous intersection on Atlantic Avenue in the rain. Image: Google Maps

Rodney Graham, 49, was killed early Sunday while crossing this dangerous intersection on Atlantic Avenue in the rain. Image: Google Maps

Atlantic Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in the city, with 25 fatal crashes from the beginning of 2011 through the end of November. Speeding is the norm, crossing on foot is risky, and the whole corridor divides neighborhoods and stunts development.

Yesterday’s crash occurred about 15 blocks west of a DOT “Vision Zero Great Streets” project that will do very little to change the underlying design that leads to excessive speeds. DOT intends to build sturdier medians in East New York between Pennsylvania Avenue and Conduit Boulevard but hasn’t proposed a significant repurposing of street space for safer walking and biking. The plan is expected to be finalized in August and built in 2017. The section of Atlantic Avenue to the east, between Conduit Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, is slated to be part of a second phase.

Transportation Alternatives released a statement today calling for a complete redesign of Atlantic’s entire distance “with expanded safe space for pedestrians, along with protected bike lanes.” TA’s “People First on Atlantic Avenue” campaign has over 5,000 signatures in support of such improvements. As lives continue to be lost on Atlantic, all eyes are on the city to put forward more ambitious proposals to keep people safe.

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Rukhsana Khan, 41, Third Pedestrian Killed by MTA Bus Driver in November

MTA bus drivers killed three people walking in November. The most recent victim was Rukhsana Khan, a 41-year-old mother of six. Image: News 12

MTA bus drivers killed three people walking in November. The most recent victim was Rukhsana Khan, a 41-year-old mother of six, struck on Thanksgiving eve. Image: News 12

New York City motorists killed three people walking over the holiday break.

At around 6 p.m. last Wednesday, November 25, an MTA express bus driver hit 41-year-old Rukhsana Khan on Ocean Avenue between Avenue J and Avenue K.

Rukhsana Khan. Photo via Daily News

Rukhsana Khan. Photo via Daily News

From the Daily News:

“The lady was in the middle of the street crossing,” said William Bizaldi, 64, who later discovered he had lived in the same building with the victim. “I heard like a boom and she looked like a plastic doll when she got hit.”

Albert Britton, 45, was onboard the bus at the time, and said the impact sounded like the bus “hitting a pothole.”

Khan, who had six children, was pronounced dead at New York Community Hospital.

Ocean Avenue is a wide, flat street, with four lanes for motor vehicle through-traffic at the location where Khan was struck. Video of the crash published by News 12 shows the bus driver traveling at a high rate of speed at the moment of impact. Video and photos taken at the scene showed that the bus was damaged on the front driver’s side.

In a second report, the Daily News spoke with people who said the bus driver was speeding, and that reckless driving is common on Ocean Avenue.

Neighbors implored the city to crack down on fast drivers. Witnesses said the bus was speeding, and urged officials to install speed bumps near the site.

“This area right here, they come speeding, 60 or 65,” said Wanda Bizaldi, 52, a neighbor. “Whether she was right or wrong, that’s too fast. It’s a shame that she died right here in front of the building.”

Drivers have injured dozens of people on Ocean Avenue this year, according to DOT crash data. The 70th Precinct, where the crash occurred, issues an average of between one and two speeding tickets a day.

NYPD filed no charges against the bus driver who killed Rukhsana Khan. MTA bus drivers have killed five pedestrians and one cyclist in 2015, including three pedestrians in November, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

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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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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.

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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.