Skip to content

Posts from the Williamsburg Category

102 Comments

Hit-and-Run Driver Murders Cyclist, So 90th Precinct Tickets People on Bikes

A hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist in Williamsburg this weekend. Though police believe the motorist ran over the victim on purpose, the 90th Precinct responded by ticketing cyclists and handing out bike safety fliers.

Matthew Von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen, 35, was riding his bike east on Grand Street between Manhattan Avenue and Graham Avenue at around 2:20 a.m. Saturday when the driver of a late model Camaro approached from behind. Police told WPIX the driver then slowed and edged into the bike lane.

The driver then hit Van Ohen’s [sic] rear tire and as the victim fell off his bike, the driver slammed into him again, running over him and dragging him about 20 to 30 feet.

The driver then sped off, heading east on Grand Street.

Video posted by Gothamist shows the motorist enter the painted bike lane and drive away, leaving the victim’s body in the street.

Von Ohlen was a co-founder of Bikestock, which operates bike repair vending machines in NYC and Massachusetts. The Daily News reported that he was on his way home from a bartending shift in Manhattan when he was killed.

WPIX posted footage of 90th Precinct officers ticketing cyclists at the scene of the crash. Gothamist said cops, shown blocking the bike lane in the WPIX story, were also handing out NYPD “Operation Safe Cycle” leaflets.

“When [cyclists] got to the intersection of Grand and Graham on their way, police officers were there to stop them and hand out pamphlets on cyclist safety,” Williamsburg resident Greg Fertel told Gothamist. “I found this to be pretty enraging — I don’t think that this was an issue of cyclist safety.”

Cops from the 90th Precinct, blocking the bike lane where Von Ohlen was killed by a homicide suspect, ticket cyclists and lecture them on bike safety. Image: WPIX

Cops from the 90th Precinct, blocking the bike lane where Von Ohlen was killed by a homicide suspect, ticket cyclists and lecture them on bike safety. Image: WPIX

Read more…

13 Comments

Metropolitan Bridge Bike Lane Will Connect Ridgewood and Williamsburg

Bike lanes could soon be coming to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, which connects East Williamsburg and Ridgewood. Image: DOT

Bike lanes could soon be coming to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, which connects East Williamsburg and Ridgewood. Image: DOT

After two years of back-and-forth with the local community board, a proposal to link the bike networks of Williamsburg and Ridgewood via the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge may finally be coming to fruition. DOT presented an updated version of the plan, which it first unveiled in June 2014, to Brooklyn Community Board 1 last night [PDF].

The Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a critical connection between Brooklyn and Queens over Newtown Creek. Currently there are only bike lanes to the west of the bridge, on Grand Street in East Williamsburg, not on the bridge itself, where cyclists have to contend with heavy truck traffic.

With two lanes in each direction, drivers on the bridge tend to go too fast. Two cyclists and one pedestrian were killed on or near the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT.

DOT plans to remove one westbound car lane to make room for bike lanes on both sides of the bridge. On the eastbound side of the bridge, the bike lane will have a painted buffer. On the westbound side, in an odd touch, there will be both sharrows and a curbside bike lane.

Read more…

16 Comments

DOT Hints at Upcoming Bike Projects in North Brooklyn

DOT is planning a number of bike infrastructure improvements for North Brooklyn, including a buffered bike lane on Metropolitan between Grand Street and Onderdonk Avenue. Image: DOT

A short stretch of buffered bike lane on Metropolitan between Grand Street and Onderdonk Avenue will connect bike networks in Williamsburg and Bushwick. Image: DOT

Last night DOT outlined some of the bike projects it’s planning for Williamsburg and Bushwick in the near future, including bike lanes on Meeker Avenue and improved southbound bike connections from the Williamsburg Bridge. While it didn’t come up at the meeting, the looming L train shutdown lends some extra urgency to bike network improvements in this part of the city. Every L train rider who opts to bike while the shutdown is in effect will be placing less strain on a bus and subway network that can use all the help it can get.

DOT Bicycle & Pedestrian Programs Director Sean Quinn sketched out ideas at a “Vision Zero town hall” hosted in South Williamsburg by Council Member Antonio Reynoso. Design details aren’t available yet, but Quinn did offer some insight into the agency’s timelines moving forward.

On Meeker Avenue, a proposal for “bike facilities” will be presented in the fall, Quinn said. DOT is currently in the process of improving pedestrian crossings along a dangerous stretch of Meeker, but bike lanes weren’t a part of that project. The agency also wants to improve bike connections between Meeker Avenue and Borinquen Place (and by extension, the Williamsburg Bridge), by installing bike lanes on Marcy Avenue and Rodney Street, which both run parallel to the BQE.

DOT is also looking at southbound bike connections from the Williamsburg Bridge. Currently, there is no direct way to get from the bridge bike path to the neighborhoods to the south. “There is a major missing connection across the mouth of the Williamsburg Bridge entrance,” Quinn said. DOT plans to make changes on South 4th Street and Havemeyer Street to address the issue.

Further east, the agency wants to connect the Bushwick and Williamsburg bike networks via a short stretch of buffered bike lane on Metropolitan Avenue between Grand Street and Onderdonk Avenue. The design (above) will go before the local community board in June.

2 Comments

Video: Rampaging Sidewalk Driver Injures Child in Williamsburg

A hit-and-run motorist sped down sidewalks in Williamsburg Thursday, injuring a child as pedestrians scrambled to get out of harm’s way.

Yeshiva World reports that the driver and at least one other man were suspected of trying to pass counterfeit money at stores in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue and Lee Avenue, in the 90th Precinct. After shopkeepers tipped off Williamsburg Shomrim, the men tried to flee by driving on the sidewalk.

Video shows the motorist driving a Toyota sedan at a high rate of speed as people dodge out of the way. At one point the driver backs off the curb as witnesses try to get him to stop.

WCBS reported that a 9-year-old boy was hospitalized with injuries to his leg.

The driver crashed the car after the sidewalk rampage, hitting another vehicle at Harrison Avenue and Hopper Street before he was caught during a foot pursuit. The other suspects got away.

The NYPD public information office told us no arrests have been made and said police are still investigating.

h/t Gothamist

15 Comments

Brewer to DOT: Start Looking Into a Bus-Only 14th Street

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants bus-only lanes on 14th Street. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants the city to study making 14th Street car-free so buses can carry the load while the L train is shut down for repairs. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is calling on DOT to study making 14th Street a bus-only thoroughfare while L train service is disrupted during Sandy-related repairs.

To allow for urgently-needed fixes to the L train tunnel, the MTA is considering either a full shutdown of service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue for 18 months, or a three-year variation that preserves about 20 percent of current service. At a press event this morning, the Riders Alliance revealed that most L train riders who responded to an online survey prefer to get it over with in 18 months — a position the MTA seems to share.

In either case, said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes, the city and the MTA need to take steps to keep people moving: “No matter what the MTA does, a shutdown will profoundly change transportation options for commuters on both sides of the East River.” Sifuentes said survey respondents “called broadly for robust, supplementary bus service in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

In the survey, respondents suggested bus lanes in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and along the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a number of other measures, including Citi Bike expansion, more capacity for bicycling on the Williamsburg Bridge, increased service on nearby subway lines, and increased ferry service.

“The shutdown will not be easy, but a robust set of alternatives would reduce the pain,” said Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association. “For example, 14th Street could become reserved for buses, pedestrians and bikes, and the Williamsburg Bridge could offer dedicated bike and bus routes. The MTA and DOT need to be bold.”

Read more…

379 Comments

NYPD: Teacher Killed by Cop in Crosswalk “Assumed Risk” by Crossing Street


NYPD and the city Law Department are fighting a lawsuit filed by the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed in a crosswalk by an on-duty officer, on the grounds that the victim behaved recklessly by crossing the street.

Felix Coss was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street in Williamsburg, in a crosswalk with the signal, on the afternoon of July 6, 2013, when Officer Paula Medrano of the 90th Precinct struck him with a marked police van while turning left. Coss, a 61-year-old veteran Spanish teacher, suffered severe head injuries and died that night at Bellevue Hospital.

Felix Coss. Photo via DNAinfo

Video of the crash shows Medrano stopped at the Hooper Street crosswalk on the north side of the intersection as Coss, approaching from the south, stops for the signal. When the light changes, Coss enters the Broadway crosswalk, still facing Medrano, as Medrano accelerates into the intersection and turns left, driving directly into Coss and knocking him to the asphalt.

The NYPD crash report says Medrano “had the green light,” but does not indicate Coss was crossing with the walk signal and had the right of way.

Following up on a witness statement that Medrano was on her cell phone at the time of the crash, the Internal Affairs Bureau subpoenaed her phone records, according to the Daily NewsBut just two days after Coss was killed the Post reported that Medrano probably wouldn’t be summonsed or charged by NYPD. Though Coss “had the pedestrian signal,” the Post reported, “No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected.”

“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” an anonymous NYPD source said.

NYPD denied a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files related to the crash.

Read more…

15 Comments

DOT’s Meeker Ave Safety Project Gets — You Guessed It — Meeker

DOT's updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for new neckdowns instead of a closed slip lane at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT’s updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for curb extensions instead of a car-free space at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue, and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT has watered down its safety plan for the area around Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan avenues. And for the second time in as many meetings, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee could not make quorum last night to vote on the project.

DOT’s plan calls for sidewalk extensions and crosswalks at several intersections where Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan converge. It’s not a “complete street” redesign of the length of Meeker, but it would be a step up for pedestrian safety at these locations. There were three fatalities and more than 90 injuries in the project area between 2009 and 2013.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

Map: DOT

Last night’s presentation included a few modifications from what DOT showed in January. Significantly, the plan no longer calls for pedestrianizing the short segment of North 5th Street between Metropolitan and Havemeyer. Instead, DOT will add neckdowns at three corners.

DOT Project Manager Julio Palleiro said the change was made at the request of the Church of the Annunciation, whose front entrance faces the would-be plaza. The church initially OK’d the car-free space, but came back to DOT after last month’s presentation. “They made a very strong case about elderly folks that need to get up to the front door here, and by having them over here that will add an extra 30 or 40 feet, which is significant for elderly people,” Palleiro said.

Read more…

83 Comments

Why Does the 90th Precinct Allow Illegal Parking in the Kent Ave Bike Lane?

This tweet thanking the 90th Precinct for permitting parking in the Kent Avenue bike lane was quickly deleted after Streetsblog called attention to it.

The two-way protected bike lane on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg is one of the best bikeways in the city, but every so often it’s occupied by a phalanx of illegally parked cars. It’s never been a huge secret that the cars belong to the neighborhood’s Satmar Hasidic community, which gets to appropriate the bike lane with the tacit approval of NYPD during big events. Neither has it been out in the open much. Last week, though, an account affiliated with the Satmars openly flaunted the arrangement on Twitter.

The account thanked the 90th Precinct for allowing angled parking on Kent Avenue between the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Clymer Avenue for the wedding of the grand rabbi’s granddaughter. Streetsblog retweeted it, and whoever runs the account pulled the tweet after it started to draw more unwelcome attention.

It wasn’t the first time @HQSatmar has tweeted its gratitude to the 90th Precinct for allowing illegal parking on the strip:

Read more…

23 Comments

Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

Full-BRT---Brooklyn-Side

Claiming street space for full-fledged BRT can help L train riders weather the impending Canarsie Tube closure and meet the long-term transit needs of northern Brooklyn better than a waterfront streetcar. Click to enlarge. Map: Sahra Mirbabaee/BRT Planning International

The news that Sandy-related repairs will require closing one or both directions of the L train under the East River (the “Canarsie Tube”) for one to three years has understandably caused panic among the estimated 230,000 daily passengers who rely on it. Businesses in Williamsburg that count on customers from Manhattan are also concerned about a significant downturn in sales. When the Canarsie Tube was shut down on weekends only last spring, it was bad enough for their bottom line, and this will be much worse.

Fixing the Canarsie Tube is imperative, but it doesn’t have to result in a massive disruption that threatens people’s livelihoods. The key to keeping L train passengers moving is to create new, high-capacity bus rapid transit on the streets.

Since the potential closure went public, several ideas have been floated to mitigate the impact. None of them do enough to provide viable transit options for L train riders. Only setting aside street space for high-capacity BRT can give riders a good substitute for the train. This can be done in time for the impending subway closure while also creating long-term improvements that address surface transit needs in northern Brooklyn much better than a waterfront streetcar ever could.

The Inadequacy of Current Proposals

While some L passengers will be able to switch to other subway lines, a huge number will face significant inconveniences. Passengers from Bedford Avenue to Union Square, for example, will face up to three new transfers.

Read more…

5 Comments

NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

Read more…