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Posts from the Sunset Park Category


No Charges for Driver Who Killed 72-Year-Old Cyclist in Sunset Park

A driver killed Rigoberto Diaz as he biked through the intersection of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Image: Google Maps

A driver killed Rigoberto Diaz as he biked through the intersection of 48th Street and Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a senior on a bike under the Gowanus Expressway on a Sunset Park street where drivers are routinely involved in high-speed crashes.

The crash happened Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. Rigoberto Diaz, 72, was traveling westbound against traffic on 48th Street and attempting to turn left onto Third Avenue when a driver traveling northbound on Third hit him with a Chevrolet SUV, according to NYPD and Patch.

Diaz died at Lutheran Hospital. NYPD and District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges against the driver, whose name was not released. A police spokesperson told us the investigation was still open as of this afternoon.

NYPD had no information on how fast the driver who hit Diaz was going. Police said Diaz was making a “wide left turn,” which could mean he was attempting to get to southbound Third Avenue when the driver hit him.

There are traffic signals at the intersection of Third Avenue and 48th Street. If the crash occurred as described by police, and Diaz and the driver approached the crossing at a perpendicular angle, one of two scenarios seems likely: Either the driver or Diaz ran the light, or Diaz made his turn near the end of the light cycle as the driver entered the intersection at speed.

Injury crashes along Third Avenue this year, with the site of Wednesday’s fatal collision indicated by the blue dot. Image: Vision Zero View

Injury crashes along Third Avenue this year, as of June, with the site of Wednesday’s collision indicated by the blue dot. Image: Vision Zero View

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Industry City Developer Thinks Sunset Park Waterfront Needs More Parking

The owner of Industry City, in background, says Sunset Park needs more parking. Photo: Google Maps

The owner of Industry City says Sunset Park needs more parking lots. Photo: Google Maps

A Sunset Park developer wants to use city land for a giant new parking lot, in what’s shaping up to be a test for Council Member Carlos Menchaca and the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

Industry City, which has 6 million square feet of industrial, office, and retail space in 16 buildings across more than 30 acres on the Sunset Park waterfront, is owned by a group of investors led by real estate firm Jamestown. Yesterday, the group announced a $1 billion redevelopment plan to attract employers in media, technology, fashion, and small-scale manufacturing.

The developers are asking for zoning changes to allow academic facilities, additional retail, and hotel uses at Industry City, which is zoned for manufacturing. They also have their eyes set on adding lots more parking.

The area has decent transit access, but it could be better. Industry City is near the express subway stop at 36th Street and Fourth Avenue and is served by three bus routes, including the crosstown B35 to Brownsville. That route has been identified as a priority for Select Bus Service expansion. Industry City is also right next to the planned Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route and is a potential candidate for ferry service, though it was skipped over in the ferry network Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month.

What the developers are focused on, though, is parking.

Industry City sits across the street from the city-owned South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which already leases parking space to its neighbors, including 450 spots to Industry City. The development’s owners are looking to carve out up to five more acres for car storage in a corner of the 88-acre terminal site. According to back-of-the-envelope calculations by The Brooklyn Paper, that area — equal to the size of four football fields — could result in as many as 750 parking spaces.

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Pedestrian Injuries Down Nearly 30% After 4th Ave Road Diet in Sunset Park

Photo: NYC DOT

With paint, epoxy, and gravel, DOT widened skinny medians to make safer crossings on Fourth Avenue. Pedestrian injuries have dropped 29 percent following the redesign. Photo: NYC DOT

A year and a half after implementing a road diet on 50 blocks of Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, DOT returned to the Brooklyn Community Board 7 transportation committee last night with a report on how the redesign has affected safety. The results are positive: More people are walking on Fourth Avenue, while speeding, crashes, and pedestrian injuries are all down significantly [PDF].

Speeding is down on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. So are crashes, injuries and fatalities. Image: DOT

Speeding is down on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. So are crashes, injuries and fatalities. Image: DOT

DOT implemented the road diet between August and December of 2012, converting Fourth Avenue from three lanes in each direction to two, adding turn restrictions, widening pedestrian medians, and expanding the width of the parking lanes. For its study, DOT looked at crash, speed, and traffic data for the 12 months before and after the road diet was implemented.

Over that period, total crashes have dropped 13 percent, crashes with injuries have decreased 8 percent, and pedestrian injuries have decreased 29 percent. Before the road diet, 47 percent of drivers were speeding. After the road diet, the proportion of drivers speeding shrank to 29 percent.

In the six years before the road diet, there were seven fatalities along this section of Fourth Avenue. There was one death while the road diet was being implemented in late 2012, and none in the 17 months since.

Pedestrian activity has ticked up slightly at intersections along Fourth Avenue, and motorist travel times have remained mostly steady. Northbound trips during the morning rush hour now average 15 seconds shorter than before, while southbound evening rush hour trips take an average of 88 seconds longer over the 2.5-mile route.

DOT is already planning to build out the design using concrete, with a capital project from 33rd Streets to 47th Street partially funded. DOT is looking for additional funds, and CB 7 transportation committee chair Ryan Lynch suggested the board ask Council Member Carlos Menchaca to use discretionary funds to support the project. Eventually, DOT hopes to reconstruct all of Fourth Avenue between 65th Street in Bay Ridge and Atlantic Avenue in Park Slope.

DOT noted in its presentation that the final design for Fourth Avenue has yet to be determined, but it’s likely that it will mirror the paint-and-planters design that’s resulted in the significant safety gains described last night.

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Brooklyn CB 7 Working for Safer Streets in Sunset Park

Community Board 7 in Brooklyn continues to emerge as a force for safer neighborhood streets.

This week, the CB 7 transportation and public safety committees held a joint meeting to address pedestrian safety issues in the district, which encompasses Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace. The board also sent a letter this month to the 72nd Precinct asking for more traffic enforcement.

“We have some advocates at the top­ tier level of the community board,” says Ryan Lynch, CB 7 transportation committee chair and vice board chair. Among those working for improvements is new board chair Dan Murphy, whom Lynch calls “a pretty fierce advocate for safer streets.”

In 2013, CB 7 requested nearly two dozen street safety measures from DOT and NYPD. The board has worked with DOT in recent years on improvements to Fourth Avenue and Park Circle, and also engages with community groups, including UPROSE, which Lynch says “has been working on these issues in Sunset Park for years.”

One area the board is focused on is reducing pedestrian deaths on Sunset Park avenues. “We’ve had a number of fatalities along the avenues over the last six months,” says Lynch.

On Tuesday, about 40 people attended the first of two planned street safety forums. “It was really just a kick-off to identifying new areas that need attention in Sunset Park,” Lynch says. In what has to be considered an encouraging sign, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office sent someone to the forum. “We haven’t had a representative from the district attorney’s office in quite a long time at a community board meeting.”

CB 7 also wants lower speed limits and traffic calming around senior centers and parks, like DOT has done with Slow Zones near schools,.

On February 6 the board dispatched a letter to Captain James Grant, commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct. The letter lauds the precinct for reducing crime overall, and asks Grant to devote “the same focus and dedication” to dangerous driving, particularly speeding and failure to yield. The letter points to recent efforts by the 78th Precinct, where traffic safety has become a priority. The board has yet to receive a reply from Grant.

Lynch says CB 7 will be reaching out to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and would like to develop a multi-lingual crowdsourced traffic conditions map, modeled on the Make Brooklyn Safer maps for Fort Greene and Park Slope. And there will be other forums in the district, including one in Windsor Terrace in March, to be co-hosted by City Council Members Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca.

“CB 7 has taken the mantle of being one of the more progressive community boards on pedestrian safety issues,” says Lynch. “This is the first of hopefully many efforts to get more attention to our district.”


Film Maker Captures Everyday Motorist Law-Breaking at Deadly Crossings

Here are two excellent shorts from film maker Anna Zivarts that document conditions at intersections where pedestrians lost their lives.

On the morning of January 2, 75-year-old Xiaoci Hu was struck by two motorists at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street in Sunset Park. Zivarts took a camera there and filmed several drivers, including one in a semi truck, blowing through a crosswalk heedless of a group of pedestrians who have the right of way. People in the group yell at drivers to stop as they continue to pass, inches from a man with a small child on his shoulders. The film shows motorists honking at pedestrians who have the walk signal.

At East Fordham Road and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, where an unidentified man was hit by a driver less than 12 hours after Hu was killed, Zivarts filmed motorists en route to Pelham Parkway failing to yield. At one point, a man on foot waits through an entire light cycle as driver after driver refuses to concede the right of way, forcing him to wait for the next light.

This is a genius idea that, unfortunately, could be replicated at most any intersection in NYC. Motorists are constantly making the case that improved enforcement and engineering are needed to make streets safer, and anyone with a video camera or a smartphone and some editing software can give them an audience.

“This won’t get us to Vision Zero,” reads Zivarts’s caption at the end of each video. But this is the kind of grassroots activism that will.

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Xiaoci Hu, 75, Killed in Sunset Park — NYC’s First Pedestrian Fatality of 2014

This is the crosswalk at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street where Xiaoci Hu, 75, was killed this morning. Photo: Google Maps

The crosswalk at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street where Xiaoci Hu, 75, was killed this morning. Photo: Google Maps

Just after 6:45 a.m. yesterday, Xiaoci Hu, 75, of Sunset Park was walking south along the east side of Seventh Avenue when he was struck and killed in a two-car crash while crossing 65th Street. The intersection is wide, with multiple lanes in each direction, and is a busy route for drivers coming to and from the Gowanus Expressway.

Police say a 54-year-old man driving a gray Toyota Camry eastbound on 65th Street with the traffic signal slowed to allow Hu to cross, but was rear-ended by a 52-year-old man driving a red Jeep Cherokee. The Camry lurched forward, striking Hu. He was taken to Lutheran Medical Center in serious condition, but pronounced dead on arrival.

Alcohol or other impaired driving does not appear to be a factor in the crash, though NYPD would not say whether speeding or distracted driving were involved. Both drivers stayed on the scene, and there have been so summonses issued or charges filed as a result of the crash.

This is the first pedestrian fatality of 2014, but not the first traffic fatality of the new year: One person was killed in a crash on the Long Island Expressway at the Queens-Nassau County border early yesterday morning. On Wednesday, an SUV passenger was killed in an early-morning crash on the LIE in Queens. Hours later, a Staten Island man was killed behind the wheel by a hit-and-run driver.

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Another Serious Crash in 72nd Precinct Leaves Teenager in Critical Condition

A teenager was critically injured Tuesday when a motorist struck her in a Sunset Park crosswalk.

Yasmelin Iglesias. Photo via Daily News

Yasmelin Iglesias. Photo via Daily News

Yasmelin Iglesias, 16, was crossing the street with her mother at 48th Street and Sixth Avenue at around 9 a.m. when she was hit by the driver of a commercial van, who according to the Daily News was traveling south on Sixth.

“She was trying to open her eyes when her mom was talking to her. Her mom was hysterical,” [witness] Maria said.

“The mother was telling her, ‘Don’t go! Stay with me! You can’t die,’” Maria said. “‘You have a purpose in life, in this world! You can’t die!’”

The driver, identified only as a 29-year-old man, was not charged. He was cleared by police to drive the van from the crash site himself, according to News 12.

Locals told News 12 reckless driving is a problem in the area. “We need a speed bump so everybody can slow down,” said one man, identified as Andre. “A lot of people get hit over here.”

Iglesias was transported to Lutheran Medical Center with severe head trauma, the Daily News reported.

“I hope she has the strength to survive these surgeries,” said Altagracia Cordero, Iglesias’s grandmother, to the Daily News. “She’s young but doesn’t eat too much. She’s very skinny.”

“She’s very lovable. She’s always here checking on us.”

The crash occurred in the 72nd Precinct, where as of October local officers had issued 179 speeding tickets in all of 2013, and 123 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Kiko Shao, 5, was killed by a motorist in the 72nd Precinct in September.

To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain James Grant, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 72nd Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the precinct, 830 Fourth Avenue. Call 718-965-6326 for information.


No Charges or Summonses for Driver Who Killed Kiko Shao, 5, in Sunset Park

Witnesses say the driver of this SUV was listening to loud music when he hit Kiko Shao head-on, hitting her with a front and rear tire. Image: NY1

A driver who was reportedly listening to loud music when he drove over a 5-year-old and nearly hit her sister in Sunset Park yesterday has yet to be charged or ticketed.

An NYPD spokesperson said Kiko Shao was running northeast on 55th Street when she was struck by the driver of a Cadillac Escalade, who was southbound on Fifth Avenue. The crash occurred sometime around 3:30, as Shao walked with family members home from school, reports said.

NYPD would not tell Streetsblog the name of the driver, a 28-year-old male with a valid license. The spokesperson said the investigation is “ongoing.”

Said a spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes: “We’re looking into it.”

Published accounts are somewhat inconsistent, but for the most part don’t match NYPD’s version of events. NY1 and the Post say Shao was walking with her father. The Daily News says she was with her mother. Witnesses told the Post and News 12 that Shao was also with her sister.

“He [the driver] was not speeding,” said a witness, to NY1. “He just crossed the light. Maybe the light had just changed. I don’t know what happened, but he was just coming forward, and the little baby was standing right along nearby the 22 right there, and the front tire knocked her down, and then the rear tire ran over her.”

According to a witness quoted by the Post, there were two children in front of the SUV, they were walking — not running — and the driver was blasting his sound system as he approached:

Witnesses said Shao was walking with her older sister and following their father when a white Cadillac Escalade playing loud music hit the younger girl as her older sister dodged the oncoming car.

The driver of the car got out of the vehicle and stood watch as EMS performed CPR to the kid for about five minutes, said Mohammad Isa, 23, who witnessed the aftermath. “I just saw his face, he looked devastated.”

The Daily News devoted all of 119 words to this story. Reporters Thomas Tracy and Mark Morales seem open to blaming either the victim’s mother or the child herself, but again there is no indication that Shao was running.

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West Side and Sunset Park Community Boards Advance Bike Lanes and Plazas

A capital reconstruction of this pedestrian plaza on Ninth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets got a positive vote from Community Board 4's transportation committee last night. Photo: Google Maps

Last night, two community boards in Sunset Park and Manhattan’s West Side voted to support bike lanes, bike parking and permanent pedestrian plazas. As a result, Sunset Park will be receiving shared lane markings on Fifth Avenue, the permanent reconstruction of a plaza at Ninth Avenue and 14th Street will move ahead, and bike lanes and on-street corrals are on track for the West Side of Manhattan.

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn Community Board 7 voted to support the extension of shared lane markings on Fifth Avenue from 23rd to 65th Streets. (On Fifth Avenue between 23rd and Dean Streets, there are already bike lane and sharrow markings.)

The proposal received a supportive transportation committee vote in July, but stalled after a 15-9-10 vote at the full board in October. CB 7’s first vice chair, Daniel Murphy, reintroduced the sharrows resolution last night, and it passed, 23-5, with seven abstentions.

“We always planned to reintroduce it, it was just a question of when,” Murphy said, adding that a few board members who opposed the plan in October switched to support it this time around. “We didn’t get angry. We got rational,” he said. Murphy said he doesn’t believe this will delay DOT’s ability to install the markings this spring. Streetsblog has asked DOT to confirm an implementation schedule.

In Manhattan, Community Board 4’s transportation committee passed a resolution in support of the permanent reconstruction of a 9,000 square-foot plaza on Ninth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets. DOT will add street trees on the east side of the plaza; the committee is asking DOT to add greenery to the center of the space, as well.

The Ninth Avenue protected bike lane, which shrinks to a standard painted lane at this location before becoming a buffered lane on Hudson Street, is often full of double-parked cars and trucks. “They told us there is not enough space on the avenue to create a protected bike lane,” committee co-chair Christine Berthet said. “We’re definitely not happy about it.”

A median pedestrian island on Ninth Avenue at 15th Street will be removed and replaced with a curb extension. The design will include cobblestones to match the aesthetic of plaza spaces on Ninth Avenue as it approaches Gansevoort Street.

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Eyes on the Street: Safer Crossings on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn

Pedestrians now have expanded median islands, like this one at 20th Street, for safer crossings on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. Photo: @J_uptown

Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, from 65th Street to 15th Street, is getting its road diet after Brooklyn Community Board 7 overwhelmingly approved changes to the street in May.

Seven pedestrians were killed in traffic along the corridor between 2006 and 2011. To make it safer, DOT is reducing Fourth Avenue from three lanes in each direction to two, with expanded medians for crossing pedestrians and a wider parking lane, as shown in these photos sent by reader @J_uptown on Twitter..

Drivers now have two lanes instead of three, as shown at 43rd Street. Photo: @J_uptown