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Posts from the Flatbush Category

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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.

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Assembly Member Nick Perry Tried to Weaken Bus Lanes All Over NYC

Riders board the B46 SBS at the bus stop where the route connects to the 3 and 4 trains. Photo: David Meyer

Perry bill’s aimed to weaken bus lane enforcement on Brooklyn’s busiest bus route — the B46, where Select Bus Service debuted last week — as well as bus lanes throughout the city. Photo: David Meyer

Upset at the prospect of camera-enforced bus lanes on Utica Avenue, which carries more bus passengers than all but a few other streets in New York, Assembly Member N. Nick Perry introduced a bill in Albany this session that would have rendered every bus lane in the city next to useless during midday hours. The bill picked up a sponsor in the State Senate majority — Brooklyn Republican Marty Golden, who later withdrew the bill, preventing a vote.

Assembly Member N. Nick Perry

Assembly Member N. Nick Perry

New York has the nation’s slowest buses, but NYC DOT and the MTA have started to tackle the problem in recent years by rolling out Select Bus Service routes that feature dedicated bus lanes. With less car congestion and double parking blocking the right of way, the lanes make bus travel faster and more reliable. Together with improvements like off-board fare collection, bus lanes have improved travel times for passengers in the range of 15 to 30 percent.

The newest camera-enforced bus lane is on Utica Avenue in Perry’s East Flatbush district. Brooklyn’s busiest bus route, the B46, runs on Utica and carries 44,000 passengers each weekday. SBS launched there last week, making the B46 the tenth SBS route with bus lanes or bus-only segments. Several older bus lane segments on major avenues are also eligible for camera enforcement.

All of these bus lanes could have been compromised by Perry’s bill, introduced in April, to let drivers travel in bus lanes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if they stay at least 250 feet away from buses. Text accompanying the bill argued that “bus lane violations serve as a trap for tickets and summons by the police.”

In practice, the bill would render bus lanes unenforceable during the middle of the day, when ridership remains high and service is frequent on busy bus routes. On the B46, for instance, buses run every 5-6 minutes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Golden introduced a companion bill in the State Senate in May but then withdrew it from consideration the following month.

Perry claimed his bill would make bus lanes “more efficient.” “If [drivers] see a bus approaching behind them, they should safely exit the bus lane,” he said. “But when there are no buses using the bus lane, we should not waste [road space].

But that scenario highlights why the bill would not work for either cars or buses — the constant merging by drivers in and out of the bus lane would slow down both motorists and bus passengers.

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Relief for Riders on Brooklyn’s Busiest Bus Route as B46 SBS Debuts

B46_SBS

Riders boarding the B46 SBS at the connection from the 3 and 4 trains no longer have to wait for everyone to dip a Metrocard. Photo: David Meyer

The B46 on Utica Avenue is Brooklyn’s busiest bus route, with more than 44,000 trips each weekday. Like other high-volume NYC bus routes, the B46 has also been susceptible to paralyzing traffic congestion and a boarding process that takes ages, as each passenger dips a Metrocard at the front of the bus. But B46 riders got some relief from slow, unreliable service this weekend with the launch of Select Bus Service.

With camera-enforced bus lanes, off-board fare collection, fewer stops, and priority for buses at traffic signals, NYC DOT and the MTA implemented a suite of improvements similar to the nearby B44, where travel times improved 15-30 percent after the debut of SBS.

Dedicated bus lanes were implemented on Utica Avenue in 2014 and 2015. Image: DOT

Bus lanes were implemented on Utica Avenue in 2014 and 2015, but camera enforcement didn’t begin until this month. Image: DOT

Where it runs through East Flatbush, the B46 serves some of the densest neighborhoods in the city outside of convenient walking access to the subway. (Last year, Mayor de Blasio suggested extending the subway from Eastern Parkway down Utica Avenue.)

DOT implemented bus lanes and transit signal priority on Utica in 2014 and 2015. On Sunday, off-board payment, bus stop consolidation, and camera enforcement of the bus lanes took effect, though drivers who violate the bus lanes will receive warnings instead of fines for the first 60 days. Bus bulbs — which enable passengers to board without the bus driver pulling in and out of traffic — will be installed next year.

On the evening commute yesterday, Elizabeth Bruno, who takes the B46 one stop between her home and the Utica Avenue subway station on Eastern Parkway, said she has noticed improvements even though riders are still adjusting to the service. “Because it’s new, I think, it takes a little while for people to get accustomed to, but once they get accustomed to [it], I think it will be fine,” Bruno said. “The Select is moving really faster because you don’t stop at every stop.”

“With the Select, it has gotten a little better,” said Yvette Glover, who rides the B46 every day from Eastern Parkway to Broadway and Myrtle. “I believe it’s a good thing.”

The B46 SBS runs from DeKalb Avenue to Kings Plaza, replacing the old B46 Limited that ran the length of the route but made express stops between DeKalb Avenue and Avenue H. The local B46, which previously stopped at DeKalb Avenue, will now make local stops from Kings Plaza all the way to the Williamsburg terminus.

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DA Ken Thompson: Charges for Punching Driver, No Charges for Killing Child

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson filed charges against the man accused of punching the driver who killed Jadann Williams, but did not charge the driver.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson filed charges against the man accused of punching the driver who killed Jadann Williams, but did not charge the driver.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is prosecuting the man accused of punching the driver who killed 8-year-old Jadann Williams in Flatbush, but Thompson filed no charges against the driver.

Jadann was playing with a group of kids on E. 22nd Street on the afternoon of August 26 when a man identified by the Daily News as Reginald Auguste hit her with an SUV. Jadann suffered head trauma and died at Kings County Hospital.

East 22nd Street north of Ditmas Avenue, where the crash occurred, is a narrow, two-way cul-de-sac lined with apartments. The News said Auguste “lived on the block and was known for having a lead foot.” A witness said he “tried to press the brake, but went 15 to 20 feet before he stopped,” an indication that Jadann might be alive today if Auguste had been driving slower.

“The guy was a known speeder,” another witness told the News. “You know the children are present. You have to drive at a decent speed.”

While NYPD let Auguste go, police arrested Ryan Romans, who knew Jadann and witnessed the crash, for allegedly punching Auguste in the face.

NYPD and Thompson filed a number of charges against Romans, including misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor attempted assault, misdemeanor menacing, and harassment, according to court records. The top count against Romans is the assault charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.

Romans was released without bail after his arrest. His next court date is in October.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Jadann Williams, 8, on Flatbush Cul-de-Sac

Eight year-old Jadann Williams, who neighbors say loved sports and wanted to become a basketball star, was playing on a dead-end street just steps from her Flatbush home yesterday afternoon when a driver struck and killed her.

Jadann Williams. Photo via WABC

Jadann Williams. Photo via WABC

Police say Williams was playing near the back end of a double-parked box truck on the east side of E. 22nd Street just north of Ditmas Avenue at 5:10 p.m. yesterday afternoon. The driver of a southbound Toyota SUV struck her when she stepped further out into the narrow two-way street. Williams suffered severe head trauma and died at Kings County Hospital.

“He tried to press the brake, but went 15 to 20 feet before he stopped,” volunteer NYPD clergy liaison Mohammad Nasir, 53, told the Daily News. The News identified the driver as 35-year-old Reginald Auguste and reported that he “lived on the block and was known for having a lead foot.”

“The guy was a known speeder,” a witness told the Daily News. “You know the children are present. You have to drive at a decent speed.”

The driver does not face any charges. The investigation by the Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.

Neighbors say speeding is a regular problem on the street, despite the regular presence of children playing. “We’ve been asking for a speed bump on this block, and this is what it has come to?” neighbor and family friend Tanisha Brown told WNBC.

While the driver wasn’t arrested, someone else was: Ryan Romans, 25, of Staten Island — who knew Williams, according to the Daily News — punched the driver after the collision. He was tackled to the ground by police and charged with assault.

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Eyes on the Street: Real-Time Bus Arrival Display on Nostrand Ave [Updated]

bus_stop

New York finally has real-time bus arrival information and excellent route maps posted at bus stops. Or rather, at least one bus stop has this info, and it looks like the kind of thing that should spread to a lot more bus stops.

NYC DOT policy director Jon Orcutt posted this photo on Twitter over the weekend, when Bus Time went live in Brooklyn and Queens, bringing real-time arrival information to every borough. This display is at the Church Avenue stop for southbound Nostrand Avenue B44 Select Bus Service.

The bus arrival screen is integrated into one of NYC DOT’s WalkNYC wayfinding boards, which has also been customized with B44 route maps. The display shows how many stops away the next four arrivals are — both local and SBS buses. After years of looking jealously at other cities’ real-time bus stop displays, NYC seems to be on the verge of catching up.

It’s unclear how rapidly the displays will be rolled out. The WalkNYC maps are currently in four neighborhoods. We have a request in with DOT about whether the Bus Time-enabled displays will be coming to more bus stops.

Update: DOT says this is a prototype installed last fall for the launch of B44 SBS, with the arrival info switched on when Bus Time went live this weekend. The prototype is still being tested so there’s no timetable yet for a full rollout, but the plan is to eventually bring these displays to all SBS routes, starting with the B44, M34, and M60.

I went over to Church and Nostrand this afternoon and got a few more up-close shots of the display. (Sidenote: The parking situation on this stretch of Nostrand and Rogers is literally a free-for-all. No meters, double-parking everywhere, drivers bypassing the stopped vehicles by violating the bus lane. To make SBS work as well as it should here, there needs to be a price on the curb.)

Take a look:

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With Debut of B44 SBS, Major Brooklyn Bus Route Poised to Draw More Riders

B44 SBS upgrades existing limited-stop service with bus lanes and other improvements. Photo: Stephen Miller

B44 SBS upgrades existing limited-stop service with bus lanes, off-board fare collection, and other improvements. Photo: Stephen Miller

After years of planning, B44 Select Bus Service launched yesterday on the Nostrand Avenue corridor.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast marked the occasion this afternoon at a newly-expanded bus stop at Church and Nostrand.

The B44, which serves nearly 40,000 riders each weekday along a 9.3-mile route between the Williamsburg Bridge and Sheepshead Bay, is the sixth SBS line in the city. The upgrade to B44 limited-stop service adds off-board fare collection, curb extensions at bus stops, priority for buses at stop lights (starting next year), and camera-enforced bus lanes. Funded largely by a $28 million federal grant [PDF], B44 SBS is projected to improve travel times by as much as 20 percent.

MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Photo: Stephen Miller

MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Photo: Stephen Miller

At today’s presser, Bloomberg stressed the need for data-driven transportation policy. “Everybody has a view whether the traffic is better or worse,” he said. “That’s not a way to measure whether traffic is faster or slower.”

Referring to the other five SBS routes, he said, “These things, it turns out, actually do save time. Buses work better and traffic is better. We’re not just trying to guess.”

DOT released a report [PDF] today compiling data from SBS projects on Fordham Road, Webster Avenue, Hylan Boulevard34th Street, and First and Second Avenues. Since 2008, the city has installed 38 miles of SBS lanes. Bus speeds have increased as much as 23 percent while all SBS routes combined have gained 20,000 daily riders after launching.

SBS stops along Nostrand and Rogers Avenues include WalkNYC wayfinding signs featuring area maps and real-time bus arrival information. (Since Bus Time is not scheduled to launch in Brooklyn and Queens until the first half of next year, the signs do not currently show real-time data.) MTA staff assigned to SBS stops during the launch phase were out today showing riders how to pay their fare before boarding the bus.

Local merchants are hoping the speedier buses will draw more customers from the 300,000 people who live within a quarter-mile of the route. Lindiwe Kamau owns a ceramics shop and serves as president of the Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association, which represents retailers between Linden Boulevard and Eastern Parkway. “We have a lot of merchants who come from out of the area, and they drive, so [parking’s] been their main concern,” she told Streetsblog. “We’re trying to support them and turn the situation into a plus.” The association is launching a discount program for riders who show their SBS receipts. So far, 21 businesses have signed up, and Kamau is aiming to involve more retailers before Small Business Saturday on November 30.

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Select Bus Service Comes to Brooklyn

Photo: Ben Fried

Boarding at Nostrand and Flushing on the first day of B44 SBS service. Photo: Ben Fried

Yesterday was the first day of service for Brooklyn’s first Select Bus Service route, upgrading the B44 Limited with a dedicated bus lane, off-board fare collection, bus bulbs, and fewer stops. It’s the sixth SBS route to enter service, following two in the Bronx, two in Manhattan, and one in Staten Island.

In addition to improving transit speeds, these measures should help reduce bus bunching on what has been one of the most unreliable routes in the city — in 2009 the B44 took home the Straphangers Campaign Schleppie Award for NYC’s least reliable bus route.

At noon, Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan will announce the launch of the new service, and we’ll have a report from the presser later today. Just a note for now about how the coverage of this bus upgrade is playing out: Whenever a new SBS route launches, it takes some time for people to acclimate, and the first stories tend to zero in on how riders have trouble adjusting to the payment system or the elimination of stops. It’s not until several months later, maybe a year, that the performance metrics come in, showing better bus speeds and increased ridership.

The changes to the B44 are more significant than other SBS projects because northbound service is switching from New York Avenue to Rogers and Bedford Avenues, which are wider, one-way streets that can more readily accommodate transit lanes and bus bulbs. (The local B44 northbound will remain on New York, where it provides direct access to Kings County Hospital.) So there’s certainly going to be an adjustment period.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to two women, Gem and Meg (they swore those were their real names and the palindrome was a coincidence), who were getting off a northbound B44 SBS bus at Fulton Street. They were returning from a trip to visit family at Nostrand and Flatbush, about three and a half miles away. Most passengers were confused about how to pay fares, they said, but the trip was still about 10 minutes faster than it used to be.

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Jumaane Williams: Time to Tame the “East Flatbush Motorist Danger Zone”

City Council Member Jumaane Williams with (l-r) Transportation Alternatives general counsel Juan Martinez, Four-in-One Block Association president Hazel Martinez, and Small Business Men and Women of Avenue D president Terrence LaPierre. Photo: Keith Dawson/NYC Council

City Council Member Jumaane Williams yesterday called on the city to take action to improve traffic safety in East Flatbush, where hundreds of people have been injured and killed by reckless drivers in less than two years.

The area targeted by Williams centers on Kings Highway, and is bounded by Utica Avenue and Ralph Avenue to the west and east, respectively, Church Avenue to the north, and Glenwood Road to the south.

Williams was joined at a press conference by neighborhood leaders and Transportation Alternatives, which released a map of severe crashes within what Williams calls the “East Flatbush Motorist Danger Zone” [PDF]. Between August 2011 and February 2013, 69 pedestrians, 24 cyclists, and 385 motorists were injured in the target area. Two pedestrians and three motorists were killed.

Among the victims of reckless drivers in East Flatbush is Denim McLean, a toddler who was fatally struck by a curb-jumping motorist in March. Nine other bystanders, including Denim’s mother, were injured in that crash. The driver was not charged with a crime by NYPD or District Attorney Charles Hynes. Williams first announced his intent to pursue measures to tame traffic in his district in the aftermath of McLean’s death.

“My primary responsibility is the safety of my constituents, and the fact is that our streets are not meeting an acceptable standard of safety,” said Williams, in a press statement issued Wednesday. “There have been multiple fatalities and hundreds of injuries in the last couple years along Kings Highway, Utica Avenue and nearby thoroughfares. We need to double our efforts to reduce speeding and related violations that endanger motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.”

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Hit 10 People, Leaving Boy Brain Dead

A motorist jumped the curb and slammed into a bus stop and scaffolding in East Flatbush on Saturday, striking up to 10 pedestrians. Four people were hospitalized in critical condition, including a woman and her young son. According to the Post, Denim McLean, whose age has been reported as 2 and 3, is brain dead.

Within hours NYPD told the media that charges were unlikely, despite witness accounts that the driver was speeding.

The family of Denim McLean says he is brain dead. Photo via Daily News

The crash occurred in the 67th Precinct, where at least three pedestrians have died in traffic in the last five months, and where police issued just 45 speeding tickets in 2012 — an average of one every eight days.

Details vary somewhat as to how the crash unfolded. The Times reported that, according to NYPD, the driver was northbound on Utica Avenue near Church Avenue at around 6:50 p.m. when she swerved to avoid another vehicle. Police told DNAinfo that the driver, 48, “accidentally” hit the accelerator instead of the brake as she approached a red light at Utica and Church: “As she swerved to avoid colliding with the traffic around her, the vehicle jumped onto the sidewalk, hitting up to nine pedestrians, police said.”

From the Post:

Witnesses saw the boy [Denim McLean] facedown and unconscious near a pile of shattered glass, blood gushing from his tiny head.

“That little baby looked dead,” said Lawrence Nicholas, who rushed over from a nearby hair salon.

“When I looked in the baby’s eyes, I never saw any life. I started to cry,” said Paris Rainey, 30.

Good Samaritans tried to revive the injured boy.

“I ran outside and jumped over the car. I tried to do CPR on the baby,” said Lenox Blocker, 40. “The baby wasn’t even winking.”

“They said the lady who hit them must have fainted or did something, because she didn’t know what happened,” said the boy’s aunt, Dierdra McCorkle, 51.

The Post says Wendy McLean, 37, is semi-comatose and does not know of her son’s condition. Another female victim was pinned to a building, and one was an 86-year-old man, according to the Post.

Witnesses told the Daily News that the unnamed driver, who was hospitalized along with a passenger, was speeding before the crash. That she jumped a curb and hit multiple people with a vehicle is not in dispute. Nevertheless, NYPD apparently concluded its work with characteristic haste. As early as 10:27 p.m. Saturday, less than four hours after the incident, the Post reported: “Police do not believe the crash was a crime.” A Post follow-up published this morning reads: “Cops said the driver passed a breath-alcohol test and would not be charged.”

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