Skip to content

Posts from the "Flatbush" Category

13 Comments

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:

Read more…

38 Comments

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.

Read more…

33 Comments

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.

5 Comments

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.”

Read more…

47 Comments

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.”

Read more…

7 Comments

Three City Pedestrians Killed in Five Hours; No Charges Filed

Linden Boulevard at Rockaway Parkway, where pedestrian Gerald Green was killed by a motorist who "had the light." Image: Google Maps

Three pedestrians were killed in separate crashes in Manhattan and Brooklyn last night.

At around 7:50 p.m., 85-year-old Richard Griffin was on his way to visit a hospital patient, according to the Post, when he was apparently struck head-on by the driver of a Jeep SUV on York Avenue at E. 69th Street. Griffin, of Staten Island, was taken to Cornell Medical Center and died soon after.

At approximately 11:30, Gerald Green was hit by the driver of a Jeep SUV while attempting to negotiate the hellish intersection of Linden Boulvard and Rockaway Parkway. Here’s how the crash was described by DNAinfo and the Daily News.

Green, who cops said was crossing against the light, was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center and pronounced dead, police said.

Gerald Green, 52, was hit in East Flatbush as he tried to cross … against the light … cops said.

The Daily News story reported that another pedestrian was killed, in Harlem, some 90 minutes later. According to NYPD, a 35-year-old man was crossing W. 125th Street at Broadway when he was hit by a yellow cab driver at around 1 a.m. He was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt. Police had not released the victim’s identity as of early this afternoon.

No drivers were charged for any of these crashes, despite the fact that there is no indication that the fallen Harlem pedestrian or Richard Griffin were violating any traffic rules. That’s because NYPD tends to cite possible causal factors — who “had the light,” for example — only when they are attributed to the victim, i.e. the dead or wounded pedestrian or cyclist.

Read more…

2 Comments

Jason Williams Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in East Flatbush

Nostrand Avenue and Foster Avenue in East Flatbush. Image: Google Maps

A Brooklyn man was killed in a hit-and-run crash in East Flatbush over the weekend.

Jason Williams, 23, was struck by the driver of a red SUV at Nostrand and Foster Avenues at approximately 3:37 a.m., according to reports. He was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital.

Police told the Post that Williams was “running against the light,” and the driver was speeding. The crash scene was two blocks from Williams’ home, according to the Daily News, which reported that police were looking at video footage from a nearby McDonald’s.

Thirty-nine pedestrians and three cyclists were injured at the intersection of Nostrand and Foster between 1995 and 2009, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat, and several pedestrians were killed on surrounding blocks during that time frame.

This fatal crash occurred in the 67th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Kenneth C. Lehr, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 67th Precinct council meetings happen at 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the precinct, 2820 Snyder Avenue, in the 2nd Floor Conference Room. Call 718-287-2530 for more information.

The City Council district where Jason Williams was killed is represented by Jumaane D. Williams. To encourage Williams to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-6859 or @JumaaneWilliams.

2 Comments

New Coalition Aims for a More Bike-Friendly Flatbush

Last month, Council Member Mathieu Eugene hosted a forum to address traffic calming needs along Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn. While the event generated a lot of ideas and suggestions from neighborhood residents and business owners, many participants have been discouraged by the lack of follow-up from Eugene. Now, some are turning their desire for safer streets into action.

The Flatbush Bicycle Coalition is aiming for rides like these to become safer, more convenient and more frequent. Photo: Sustainable Flatbush/Flickr

The neighborhood’s busiest commercial street is at the top of their list, but “it’s not just Cortelyou Road,” said Flatbush resident Julie May, who has teamed up with fellow resident Rene Netter to start the Flatbush Bicycle Coalition.

Netter, who has a young daughter, has been biking in the neighborhood for a while. In 2010, he started leading group bike rides under the banner Ditmas Rides. “I wanted to show people how you could get around with kids on bicycles,” he said. Over time, the event has evolved into a regular neighborhood leisure ride, mostly for adults.

“People in the neighborhood  – who bike, at least — say, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of that,’” Netter said. Although there are now more bikes on the streets of Flatbush and Ditmas Park, the area could become even more bike-friendly. “It’s time for a new wave,” he said.

So far, the coalition has worked with local businesses to sign them up for Transportation Alternatives’ Bicycle Friendly Business program. Today, there are 14 participating businesses on Cortelyou Road.

When it comes to businesses, May said, the “first step there is to talk about a bike corral.” The coalition is working with Flatbush Food Co-Op to build support for a corral at Cortelyou Road and Marlborough Road, and with Natural Frontier Market for a corral at Cortelyou Road and Stratford Road.

In addition, the group is looking for DOT to move forward with more bike lanes in the neighborhood on Argyle Road, Dorchester Road and Westminster Road. In the future, Netter said, he’d like to have visioning sessions, “so we can get people to start thinking about what could be.”

“It’s an opportunity to make everyone’s voices heard,” May said. “The more cyclists represented, the better.”

Read more…

3 Comments

Motorcyclist Kills Pedestrian Crossing Flatbush Avenue at Parkside

The corner of Flatbush Avenue and Parkside Avenue, where a motorcyclist hit and killed a pedestrian yesterday. Image: Google Street View.

A motorcyclist driving north on Flatbush Avenue hit and killed a woman crossing the street at Parkside Avenue yesterday morning. NYPD’s public information office told Streetsblog the victim was crossing against the light and while an investigation is ongoing, no charges have been brought against the driver.

The crash took place yesterday around 5:00 in the morning. One commenter on the blog The Q at Parkside, which was the first outlet to report the crash, said that she came across the crash site moments after the incident. Wrote commenter Maizie, “An elderly woman said that a motorcycle sped around a bus and hit the pedestrian. She was surrounded by a number of do gooders who diverted traffic and directed the FDNY and ambulance personnel to her location. She was moving around, clearly in pain, and bled from her head.”

The police did not have any information about whether the motorcyclist was passing or speeding when he hit the victim.

The crash took place days after DOT announced plans to improve safety at the dangerous intersection of Parkside and Ocean Avenue, one block away. According to CrashStat, even more pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes at Parkside and Flatbush than at Parkside and Ocean between 2004 and 2009.