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Posts from the Park Slope Category

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three Victims in Four Hours on Sunday [Updated]


Fatal Park Slope hit and run by Gothamist

Correction: Park Slope Stoop reports that the Park Slope victim was walking, not riding a bike. The copy in this post has been altered accordingly.

Hit-and-run drivers killed three New York City pedestrians within a few hours on Sunday.

Jose Contreras, 63, was struck by the driver of a black SUV as he crossed Webster Avenue at E. 175th Street, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, at approximately 1:30 a.m., according to the Times and WABC.

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

WABC reports:

Contreras was celebrating his sister’s 80th birthday and pulled over his car, his family said. He was going back in to check on his family because they were taking awhile to get out of the catering hall, and was crossing the street when he was hit.

“I left my father in the car, and I figured that’s where he would be when I came back out,” Joseph Contreras, the victim’s son, told the Post. “But when I came back out, he was in the middle of the street, laying in his own blood.”

Contreras died at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

At around 4:40 a.m., 48-year-old Besik Shengelia was retrieving items from his SUV on 111th Street near 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. The make and model of the vehicle that hit Shengelia is unknown. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

WABC, which reported that Shengelia worked for Uber, spoke with witnesses, including a woman who stopped other drivers from running over Shengelia after he was hit.

“It’s a shame that people was driving by and nobody stopped. National Grid saw me stopping traffic, and they came and helped us,” says [Sonia] Ramirez.

“The street does have a problem late at night with people speeding up and down the street, basically, and something needs to change around here,” eyewitness David Moore says.

The Post reported that Shengelia was “a former commander of the Georgian navy during the country’s 2008 war with Russia” who moved to the city with his family.

About 20 minutes after Shengelia was struck, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Park Slope.

Read more…

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Brooklyn Electeds to DOT: Put Safety First at Atlantic and Flatbush

For Valentine’s Day, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin asked DOT to “complete” Atlantic Avenue. Photo: David Meyer

About a dozen people braved the cold Saturday morning to call for pedestrian safety improvements at Brooklyn’s Times Plaza and along the whole Atlantic Avenue corridor.

Times Plaza is the triangular public space at the convergence of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues. At a public meeting last month, local residents were disappointed that the redesign proposed by Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner, which is contractually obligated to fund the project, failed to address pedestrian safety concerns.

“It was clear at the meeting from the community turnout that what we really needed at this plaza was a safer place to cross,” Transportation Alternatives Brooklyn Committee Co-Chair Bahij Chancey said on Saturday.

Chancey and TA were joined by Borough President Eric Adams, council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and representatives from Senator Velmanette Montgomery’s office and the Atlantic Avenue BID.

“How could you plan a plaza here before you make it safe?” Lander asked. “The intersection has to be safe before the plaza is made lovely. Lovely is good, safety is essential, so let’s start there.” DOT has said it plans to present pedestrian improvements for the intersection this spring.

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The Key for Park Slope to Keep Its Big Grocery Store: Less Parking

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The Park Slope Key Food site. Image: Avery Hall Investments via DNAinfo

The notion that New York City housing construction shouldn’t be weighed down by mandatory parking minimums got a combative response from some City Council members at a hearing today. Streetsblog will have a thorough round-up of who said what tomorrow morning. In the meantime, here’s a quick detour to Park Slope for a related story about how parking rules everything around us.

At issue is the redevelopment of a 36,000-square-foot Key Food and adjacent parking lot by Fifth Avenue in north Park Slope. The store sells groceries at affordable prices and is an emblem of the organizing that helped turn around the neighborhood in the 1970s and 80s. Replacing it is a big deal.

In addition to about 400 locals, Council Member Brad Lander, Borough President Eric Adams, and Public Advocate Tish James were on hand for the meeting last night where developer Avery Hall Investments presented its plan, DNAinfo reports. The project would consist of 165 apartments, ground floor retail, a car-free “piazza” between two new buildings — and 182 underground parking spots (the site currently has about 100 surface spaces).

The aspect that has people most up in arms is the smaller size of the replacement grocery store. It would only be 7,500 square feet, about one-fifth the size of the Key Food.

As Stephen Smith pointed out on Twitter, you can swap in a much bigger grocery store if you lose some parking:

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The Next Brooklyn Bike-Share Expansion Will Be the Thinnest Part of Citi Bike

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Citi Bike is coming to the neighborhoods west of Prospect Park, but the stations won’t be spaced conveniently close together. Map via NYC DOT. Click to enlarge.

DOT unveiled its latest Citi Bike expansion map last week, and the stations look significantly more spread out than stations in the rest of the system.

Spread-out stations are a problem for bike-share users because people have to walk farther to make trips, and that costs time. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 stations per square mile — and the city’s contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate stipulates the same metric — but NYC DOT has been thinning out stations in its expansion zones. The city wants to cover the geographic area described in the bike-share contract, while Motivate doesn’t want to supply more than the 378 additional stations it’s required to. The result is a less effective system for everyone.

With 62 stations covering the 3.1 square miles of Brooklyn Community Board 6 — which includes Red Hook, Park Slope, and everything in between — the station density works out to 20 per square mile. As Citi Bike expands into Upper Manhattan, western Queens, and more of Brooklyn by 2017, these are the station densities New Yorkers can expect in the absence of a new strategy from DOT and/or Motivate.

DOT officials told the CB 6 committee that more stations can be added after the initial rollout. But it could be a long time before those gaps get filled in. When the current round of expansion wraps up in 2017, there will be a lot of ground to cover with infill stations plus huge pressure to keep expanding outward.

Ironically, the one thing Citi Bike had going for it consistently from the very beginning — a convenient network where a station was always a short walk away — is deteriorating just as everything else comes together. Citi Bike is finally on the rebound thanks to a thorough overhaul of its equipment and software. How long will the good times last if every expansion fails to deliver the convenience bike-share users have come to expect?

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DMV: Six-Month Suspension for Driver Who Killed Sammy Cohen Eckstein

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles determined that the driver who killed 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein failed to exercise due care and did not have a valid license at the time of the crash. DMV administrative law judge Marc Berger suspended the driver’s license for six months.

Sammy Cohen Eckstein

At around 5:15 p.m. on October 8, 2013, Sammy was attempting to retrieve a ball from Prospect Park West at Third Street when Luis K. Quizhpi-Tacuri hit him with a Chevrolet van. According to findings issued by Berger on June 29 [PDF], Quizhpi-Tacuri admitted that he saw the ball in the street, and saw another driver, traveling in the same direction to his left, come to a stop. Rather than slow down or stop, Quizhpi-Tacuri passed the second vehicle on the right, striking Sammy with the right rear tire of the van.

According to the DMV report, Quizhpi-Tacuri testified at a June 26 hearing that he was traveling at 25 miles per hour when the collision occurred. He also said he was late for a 5:00 appointment.

Wrote Berger:

The sight of a ball rolling into the street in a residential area adjacent to a park in the afternoon should have warned the respondent of the likely presence of children — to carefully observe his surroundings and make appropriate adjustments, including slowing down or stopping if necessary. Additionally, the fact that the vehicle immediately to his left suddenly stopped after the ball passed should have been an indication to the respondent to use extra care instead of passing that vehicle on its right.

Berger found Quizhpi-Tacuri committed three traffic offenses: failure to use due care, passing on the right unsafely, and driving without a valid license. Berger’s report says Quizhpi-Tacuri had a Washington state license at the time of the crash, though he had lived in New York for nine years. New York requires drivers to obtain a new license within 30 days of becoming a resident.

NYPD failed to send any of the officers who investigated the crash to Quizhpi-Tacuri’s DMV hearing, according to Steve Vaccaro, the attorney for Sammy’s family.

NYPD blamed Sammy for the crash and issued no summonses or charges. No charges were filed by former Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes or his successor Ken Thompson, who took office in 2014.

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Pedestrian Injuries Down 61% on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope After Road Diet

DOT text. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will cast the Fourth Avenue road diet in concrete after impressive street safety gains. Image: DOT [PDF]

As in Sunset Park, the Fourth Avenue road diet has yielded impressive street safety dividends for Park Slope, including a 61 percent drop in pedestrian injuries. Now, DOT is moving forward with plans to cast its changes in concrete.

Between Atlantic Avenue and 15th Street, the road diet widened medians, shortened crossing distances, and trimmed the number of car lanes from three in each direction to two along most of the street (the northernmost blocks retained the same number of lanes). The changes were implemented using paint and flexible bollards.

After the redesign, pedestrian injuries on this stretch of Fourth Avenue fell 61 percent, total crashes dropped 20 percent, and crashes with injuries were reduced by 16 percent, according to DOT, which compared one year of post-implementation crash data to the prior three-year average [PDF]. The improvements were especially dramatic at 3rd Street, where crashes fell 41 percent, and at 9th Street, where they fell 59 percent.

DOT also tracked speeding after 9 p.m. on weekdays, with the prevalence of drivers traveling above 35 mph falling by about three-quarters, from 29 percent of southbound drivers before the road diet to just 7 percent after. (The drop in the citywide default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph took effect days after DOT finished collecting its data last year.)

Car traffic levels and travel times stayed mostly steady, with southbound evening volumes falling slightly and mixed results for northbound morning volumes. Pedestrian volumes also held steady.

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Eyes on the Street: Dodging Drivers on the Sidewalk

Video still: Rob Underwood

Video still: Rob Underwood

Heads up, New Yorkers. You never know when your neighborhood sidewalk will turn into a construction detour for motorists.

A National Grid construction crew blocked Prospect Place between Flatbush Avenue and Sixth Avenue this morning. Since the crew failed to cork the street at the top of the block by Flatbush, drivers were expected to just figure it out once they had already turned down Prospect. Of course, some drivers took the most direct route possible: Jumping the curb and driving on the sidewalk with pedestrians.

Rob Underwood was walking home after taking his kids to P.S. 282 when he came across the scene. “It looked like one of the drivers had gotten out of his car to yell at the construction workers and then got back in his car to drive around on the sidewalk,” he said. Other drivers followed. One SUV driver almost got stuck, with the vehicle fenced in on the sidewalk by an old fire call box. At another point, a livery car driver idled on a curb ramp as a woman walking with a stroller and child tried to get by.

“After probably six cars tried to go through, cars tried to go out in reverse back to Flatbush, which is probably dangerous, but less dangerous than driving on the sidewalk,” Underwood said.

In September, DOT issued a street construction permit to a National Grid subsidiary for gas work on this block of Prospect Place. The permit expires on Sunday.

Update 12:45 p.m.: “As part of our ongoing gas main replacement program, National Grid is upgrading and installing about 200 feet of gas main and new service lines to homes for our customers on Prospect Place. We have appropriate permits from DOT allowing temporary traffic control devices to close the street periodically,” National Grid spokesperson Karen Young said in an e-mail. “Safety is our number one priority; we have a flagger onsite and proper barricades to close off the street as needed to complete work and protect the public and our workers. The barricade was breached this morning and we took immediate action to secure the area to ensure the safety of the community and our crews.”

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Strike Twice at Dangerous Fourth Avenue Intersection

A driver speeding north on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope this afternoon ran a red light and struck a woman, leaving her seriously injured before speeding away from the scene. Less than six weeks ago, a hit-and-run driver — also speeding north on Fourth Avenue, also running a red — injured a cyclist at the same location before crashing his car and fleeing on foot.

Police investigate the crash scene this afternoon. Photo: @JohnJayInNYC/Twitter

Police investigate the crash scene this afternoon. Photo: @JohnJayInNYC/Twitter

The woman injured today was crossing Fourth Avenue at Union Street at 12:35 p.m. when the northbound driver ran a red light and struck her in the crosswalk. She was transported to Lutheran Hospital in serious condition. According to the Daily News, she suffers from an open skull fracture. Police have not released her identity.

Witnesses interviewed by DNAinfo said the victim, age 46, landed head first on the pavement. The witnesses, who both work as EMTs, assisted the woman before an ambulance arrived. “Her face was covered with blood,” one witness said. “She was unconscious.”

The driver, behind the wheel of a dark Hyundai Elantra, fled the scene and kept going up Fourth Avenue. Police say the car may be the same vehicle that was reported stolen in Borough Park a half-hour after the crash. DNAinfo reports that police are looking for a vehicle with the license plate GRM8448.

On September 28, a similar crash occurred at the same location. A driver going north on Fourth Avenue sped past Union Street before crashing into a parked car one block away at Degraw Street. The driver got out of the car and fled on foot. Although witnesses said the driver had injured someone at Union Street before fleeing, police said the crash involved only property damage.

Two weeks after the crash, Boerum Hill resident David Pauley, 48, contacted Streetsblog to say he was the person injured by the driver at Union Street. According to a police crash report Pauley shared with Streetsblog, the driver was traveling northbound on Fourth Avenue when he ran a red light and struck another vehicle in the intersection. The driver then struck Pauley, who was going west on Union and had just entered the intersection. Like the woman injured today, Pauley landed on his head. He credits his bike helmet, which split in half, for sparing him more serious injury.

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Eyes on the Street: Brooklyn Hit-and-Run Aftermath at 4th Ave and Degraw

An officer from the 78th Precinct inspects the vehicle on Degraw Street after its driver fled yesterday morning. Photo: Mike Donohue

After the driver fled the scene, a 78th Precinct officer inspects a car on Degraw Street. Photo: Mike Donohue

Reader Mike Donohue sends this eyewitness account of a driver who fled the scene of a crash in Park Slope Sunday morning.

At about 9:45 a.m., Donohue was on his bike, stopped at a red light on Degraw Street at Fourth Avenue. When the light turned green for traffic on Degraw, a driver heading north on Fourth Avenue ran the light and made a high-speed left turn onto Degraw, crashing into a road construction site and hitting a parked car. With airbags deployed and steam rising from the engine, Donohue says the driver got out “and started slowly jogging away.”

A group of people, including Donohue and members of the construction crew, began following the driver before he disappeared near the Wyckoff Gardens housing complex at Third Avenue and Baltic Street. Donohue called 911 while trailing the suspect before returning to the crash scene to snap a photo.

“I’m pretty sure criminality is suspected,” Donohue said. “At one point, the cops told me that he’d run over a little girl, and they were going to do everything they could to catch the guy.”

NYPD’s press office did not immediately have any information on the crash, and could not confirm that a child was injured. FDNY said it responded to a call at 9:52 a.m. of a pedestrian struck on Fourth Avenue at Union Street, two blocks south of Degraw. One person was transported to Methodist Hospital, but the fire department did not have information available on the victim’s age or condition.

Update (Thursday, October 2): 78th Precinct community council chair N. Wayne Bailey told Streetsblog that at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, officers said the crash resulted in some property damage but no injuries, and that they did not make any comments about a little girl being struck. NYPD continues to search for the driver.

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Eyes on the Street: Our Long PPW Bike Lane Nightmare Is Almost Over

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Repaved sections of Prospect Park West are being striped, with orange barrels marking the bike lane in the meantime. Until now, the lane had been erased, pushing northbound cyclists onto the sidewalk or into head-on traffic. Photo: Heather Boyer/Twitter

Lesson learned? Last week, DOT wiped away the Prospect Park West bike lane for street repaving without installing any temporary cones to preserve the bike route during construction. Drivers parked at the curb, pushing northbound cyclists into oncoming traffic or onto the sidewalk. Now, DOT has demarcated the bike lane with orange cones as it re-stripes the road.

There can be a gap of at least a month between repaving and restriping lanes and markings, including bike lanes. The wait on PPW should be shorter. Word on the street is that DOT expedited the job in response to complaints.

As of today, some but not all of the striping is back on the avenue’s northern blocks, with orange cones to the south. The cones direct drivers to the correct lane for parking and clear the bike lane to cyclists — something DOT should have done from the start.