Skip to content

Posts from the "Sunset Park" Category

7 Comments

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.”

67 Comments

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.

Read more…

11 Comments

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.

Read more…

16 Comments

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.

32 Comments

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.

Read more…

7 Comments

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.

Read more…

16 Comments

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

8 Comments

Alberto Serrano Killed in Brooklyn, Driver Charged With Manslaughter

Alberto Serrano, pictured with his wife and daughters. Photo via Daily News

A driver has been charged with manslaughter and homicide for the hit-and-run death of a Brooklyn pedestrian.

Police say Alberto Serrano, 31, was struck down by Javier Hernandez on 51st Street at Third Avenue, a few blocks from Serrano’s home in Sunset Park, at around 7 p.m. Monday. Serrano, a husband and father of two young daughters, suffered severe head trauma and died at Lutheran Hospital, according to reports.

Hernandez was charged with second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene, reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic control signal, and speeding, according to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

It is not often that charges are brought against a sober driver for killing a New York City pedestrian or cyclist, even when the motorist flees the scene. On the rare occasion that such cases are pursued, thanks to rickety state laws and courts that tend to coddle killers who commit their crimes behind the wheel, justice is far from assured. We will follow the case against Javier Hernandez as it develops.

This fatal crash occurred in the 72nd Precinct. 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 the month at Mariem Heim Center, 4520 4th Avenue. Call the precinct at 718-965-6326 for information.

The City Council district where Alberto Serrano was killed is represented by Sara González. To encourage González to take action to improve street safety in her district and citywide, contact her at 212-788-7372 or sgonzalez@council.nyc.gov.

13 Comments

CB 7 Approves 50-Block Ped Safety Project for Sunset Park’s Fourth Ave

In an overwhelming 31-2 vote (with three abstentions), Brooklyn Community Board 7 passed a motion last night in favor of re-engineering Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park for greater safety. The NYC DOT project [PDF] will add a substantial amount of pedestrian space at intersections from 65th Street to 15th Street, widening medians and narrowing crossing distances on the 88-foot wide street.

Image: NYC DOT

This stretch of Fourth Avenue, currently three moving lanes in each direction plus turn bays, is one of the deadliest streets in Brooklyn, with seven pedestrians killed in traffic between 2006 and 2011. Some of the current medians are less than two feet wide. Under the plan, the narrowest medians would at least triple in width, and wider ones would expand too. The pedestrian space will be reclaimed by converting 17-foot wide combined parking and travel lanes on each side of the street into 13-foot wide parking lanes, though three travel lanes will be maintained northbound during the morning rush, from 38th Street to 17th Street. The changes would be implemented with low-cost materials — epoxy, gravel, planters, flexible posts — and DOT can complete them by this fall.

At a hearing hosted by CB 7′s Fourth Avenue Working Group on Monday, neighborhood advocates said the changes were a long time coming.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the environmental justice non-profit UPROSE, said she could remember discussing traffic calming and greener infrastructure for Fourth Avenue with CB 7 district manager Jeremy Laufer 15 years ago. “This is not new,” she said, urging the board to vote for the plan. “We’ve been talking about these things for a long time in Sunset Park. If we miss the opportunity, we might not get these improvements.”

Lined with schools, subway stations, churches, and stores, Fourth Avenue is full of destinations for this bustling neighborhood of predominantly car-free households. DOT has been working intensively with neighborhood groups and local schools to develop the Fourth Avenue plan. A workshop in February brought together English-, Spanish-, Cantonese-, and Mandarin-speakers to gather ideas about what needs to change on the avenue.

“Almost everyone who goes to school on Fourth Avenue walks there,” said project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth. ”The narrowness of the medians came out over and over in the workshops.”

Last week, three children were struck by a turning driver at Fourth Avenue and 44th Street, one of whom was injured. The crash was fresh in the minds of several participants at Monday’s hearing, including Yesenia Malave-Lee, PTA president at P.S. 503, who said the threat of traffic violence looms over every parent walking their kids to school on Fourth Avenue. “I’m all for the changes being made here,” she said.

22 Comments

Deadly Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park Poised to Get Life-Saving Road Diet

It’s hard to imagine a street in more dire need of a safety upgrade than Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Lined with schools, senior centers, subway stations, churches and stores — and situated in one of the city’s top walk-to-work neighborhoods — the street is a magnet for pedestrians of all ages. It’s also a speedway for motorists. Now it looks like this part of Fourth Avenue will get a safety-minded makeover as soon as this fall.

Image: NYC DOT

With six lanes of moving traffic, plus left-turn bays, Fourth Avenue is wide and dangerous to cross. From 2006 to 2011, seven people were killed while walking on the stretch between 65th Street and 15th Street. Dozens more were seriously injured. Pressure to reduce the death toll has been mounting in recent years, and Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Fourth Avenue Task Force has helped raise the profile of the street’s shortcomings and its potential.

Earlier this week, NYC DOT staff presented a package of safety improvements [PDF] for this two-and-a-half mile section to Brooklyn Community Board 7′s Fourth Avenue working group. The recommendations would essentially slim the street down from six lanes to four lanes and add pedestrian space in the median using low-cost materials like paint, epoxy, and gravel.

DOT has been holding workshops on Fourth Avenue with CB 7 and local organizations since last year, and the recommendations were well-received by the working group. “These workshops with the DOT have been very good, and they’ve listened to us,” said CB 7 chair Fred Xuereb.

Currently, outside of rush hour, most motorists speed on the wide expanse of Fourth Avenue, and in the evening the figure is as high as 80 percent of southbound drivers, according to DOT. By expanding medians (some of which are now only a meager two-feet wide), adding left turn restrictions and slimming down the right-of-way for traffic, the project would shorten crossing distances, reduce conflicts between pedestrians and motorists, and at least partially remedy the street’s out-of-control speeding problem.

Read more…