A truck wedged under the Sheepshead Bay Road overpass. Photo submitted by Craig S.

Neighborhoods along the elevated portion of the B/Q Brighton Line are no strangers to the thunderous crash of a truck whacking into the train line’s overpasses. South of Avenue J or so, the elevated line is relatively low to the ground, unlike the towering els of Brighton Beach Avenue or 86th Street, and many a trucker makes the misguided attempt to get by despite standard signs indicating clearance.

We’ve covered quite a number of such collisions here on Sheepshead Bites.

Now Councilman David Greenfield is requesting that the MTA install flashing yellow warning signals at all railroad underpasses in Midwood, Homecrest and Sheepshead Bay. The hope is to prevent the collisions, which cause traffic accidents and backups. In a letter to MTA Acting President Carmen Bianco and Brooklyn Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, Councilman Greenfield asks that these signals be installed along avenues that cross beneath the railroad tracks, which run between East 15th Street and East 16th Street and serve the B and Q trains. Greenfield is calling for the lights at all underpasses from Avenue J south.

“This is a simple and inexpensive step that the MTA can take to improve safety and help prevent traffic jams throughout our community. Aside from causing headaches for other drivers, these incidents of drivers ignoring the existing signs and becoming stuck beneath the bridge can cause serious accidents or significant damage to the overpass. With that in mind, I hope the MTA will agree that it makes sense to install clearer, more visible flashing signals at those locations,” Greenfield said in a press release.

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  • PeterG

    This signs will be of no use, just another waste of money.
    Truck drivers are not blind and don’t drive with closed eyes. The reason of this accidents is not visibility, but drivers desire to squeeze in beneath the bridge

  • vintagejames

    What idiot thinks this would be any good? Inexpensive? When a city agency does it, it will cost a fortune. Politicians just like to make a noise.

  • Andy

    these lights will be totally useless. just like many of our elected officials

  • Murry

    All of these overpasses look alike. I thought this was Sheepshead Bay.

  • BrooklynBus

    Just as useless as his idea to lower the City speed limit. Drivers know how high their truck is. They also know the height signs are purposely inaccurate by about a foot. So if the sign says 12′ 1″, they think they can squeeze through with a 13 foot truck. Sometimes they can and sometimes they miss it by an inch or two. OOPS.

    Did DOT ever think of telling the truth, and post a big warning that they aren’t lying?

    • user091283

      I love how Allen Rosen writes. First he says something and then the next sentence he says something completely stupid. The he writes about distorted facts, opinions, and uninformed speculation supporting the stupid thing he said. Then some more words. Then he looks at the words, reads them out loud, likes the sound of his own voice and thinks, “Yes, this is the best thing I’ve ever written.”

      If drivers knew the size of their trucks they would not get stuck in the first place, like in the link Ned provided. Your theory about people squeezing through because of a 1′ difference would make sense if the truck drivers were from around here and were familiar with DOT’s practices and standards but they’re not and the fucking issue is that they don’t know the size of their truck. Flashing lights won’t solve this issue but you’re, once again, completely wrong about the cause of the issue.

      • BrooklynBus

        Yes it was the best thing I ever wrote. Don’t you think that someone who drives a truck will know at at some time he will have to go under an overpass that might be too low? Would it not make sense that they know how big their truck is? If they have no idea, how would they know if their truck will fit when they see a sign?

        To drive a big rig without knowing how big it is would just be irresponsible. I can understand someone not paying attention, but that would be just as irresponsible. Your boss won’t keep let you drive if you keep destroying his trucks.

        Not being from around here is no excuse either. All highways that do not allow commercial traffic are clearly marked at each entrance, although some trucks find their way onto those roads also.

        If you are so smart, let’s here some suggestions to remedy the problem instead of calling someone else stupid.

        • Murry

          Just a Question: Wouldn’t the height of the truck depend on the weight is was carrying ?

          • BrooklynBus

            I woud imagine that a fully loaded truck would weigh down the truck by six inches or so, but no one should be cutting it that close anyway. They should be going by the height of an empty truck.

        • bruce b

          I didn’t know allen=Brooklyn bus!

        • user1092873

          that would be just as irresponsible

          Exactly. This is the fucking point everyone who disagrees with you would like you to concede every now and again. You believe that drivers, whether car or truck are responsible individuals incapable of negligence.

          Why in your mind would not paying attention, a form of negligence, be possible but not knowing the height of your truck, another form of negligence, is impossible.

          Either way that’s beside the point because you argued that drivers can’t be negligent enough to not notice an overpass, once again absolving a driver of all blame and shifting it entirely on DOT.

          Perhaps you need to get out of your windshield perspective for once in your goddamn life and realize that the negligence that [sarcasm]can’t possibly be attributed to drivers[/sarcasm] is the reason people die.

          • BrooklynBus

            This is exactly the driver hatred I am talking about. Are you listening Andrew? They hate all drivers.

            Where did I ever state that drivers are incapable of negligence? I stated that most drivers are responsible and that’s what I believe. Just like everyone else sometimes you find an irresponsible one. You and the Streetsblog people would like everyone to believe that the vast majority of drivers are irresponsible and that is not true.

            I never absolved the driver of all blame shifting the entire responsibility to DOT. And you accuse me of distorting facts and uninformed speculation?

            I still haven’t heard a constructive suggestion from you on solving the problem. Go take your driver hatred back to Streetsblog where you belong.

          • user21936

            Who’s hating on drivers? I’m hating on you being a narrow minded idiot who feels that every death or collision can be explained without ever faulting the driver.

            A solution? How about putting points on a truck drivers’ record if they ever hit an overpass. Losing your trucking license, which is your livelihood, is a strong incentive to not take the risk of passing underneath because you feel that “DOT makes the sign a foot less than it is.”

          • BrooklynBus

            “I’m hating on you being a narrow minded idiot who feels that every death or collision can be explained without ever faulting the driver”

            You obviously have a reading comprehension problem since I never said anything of the sort. Quit making up lies and I won’t have any further discussions with a liar who calls me an idiot. Good Day.

          • user21936

            This conversation doesn’t exist in a microcosm. Your column, your comments, most things you write excuses the negligent behavior of drivers. One such example is when you almost struck a cyclist by violating his right of way and thought you were in the right. Your way of thinking is an anachronism and you rally against decades of research and data that would be saving lives if it weren’t for the deliberate stubbornness of people like yourself.

          • StupidHipsters

            Go back to Oklaconhio.

          • Murry

            Now, Now children.

          • Allan Rosen

            I won’t reply to User so I will post my comment here. I was driving at night in the rain in the left lane closest to the curb. My left signal was on. I don’t see anything in my left side mirror. So I start to make my left onto 34 St from 2nd Avenue. Rather than let me make my turn, a cyclist who had been in the cycling lane, wearing dark clothing, rather than allowing me to make my left, decides to go straight around me as I am starting to make my left turn and misses my car my inches. That’s how close he decided to cut it because he was reckless. My signal was on. He knew of my intentions, so why was he so impatient. As to who had the right of way, I believe I did, since there is no bike lane across the intersections. Where does it state that a bicycle always have the right of way even if he is not visible to traffic? Even if he did have the right of way, he should have exercised common sense. If I wasn’t exercising such extreme caution making the turn at about two miles an hour, he would have been hit. So of course according to cyclists, I was wrong.

          • Andrew

            I was driving at night in the rain in the left lane closest to the curb. My left signal was on. I don’t see anything in my left side mirror.

            Did you look over your shoulder? Knowing that a bike lane was to your immediate left, did you take the effort to ascertain whether a bicycle was approaching?

            So I start to make my left onto 34 St from 2nd Avenue. Rather than let me make my turn, a cyclist who had been in the cycling lane, wearing dark clothing, rather than allowing me to make my left, decides to go straight around me as I am starting to make my left turn and misses my car my inches. That’s how close he decided to cut it because he was reckless.

            Based on your own description, he simply executed a normal, legal left turn, and you missed him by inches.

            There’s no law requiring cyclists to wear bright clothing at night. (Bear in mind that every cyclist and pedestrian who works from 9 to 5 is commuting home after dark at this time of year, and most coats happen to have dark colors. That’s not an invitation for motorists to drive irresponsibly!)

            My signal was on. He knew of my intentions, so why was he so impatient.

            Why were you so impatient that you couldn’t yield to him (as required by law)?

            As to who had the right of way, I believe I did, since there is no bike lane across the intersections.

            What difference does that make? Even if there had been no bike lane at all, a cyclist has the right-of-way over a turning motorist (just as a pedestrian has the right-of-way over a turning motorist).

            Where does it state that a bicycle always have the right o f way even if he is not visible to traffic?

            It was an invisible bicycle? This I’ve got to (not) see.

            By “not visible to traffic” I think you mean that it simply didn’t occur to you that a cyclist might have been approaching, so you didn’t bother to look for one. (And, since cars usually move faster than bicycles, you had probably just passed him a few seconds earlier without noticing!)

            Even if he did have the right of way, he should have exercised common sense. If I wasn’t exercising such extreme caution making the turn at about two miles an hour, he would have been hit.

            Congratulations on breaking the law but still managing to not kill someone! How about taking responsibility for your own actions?

          • Allan Rosen

            “Did you look over your shoulder? Knowing that a bike lane was to your immediate left, did you take the effort to ascertain whether a bicycle was approaching?…Based on your own description, he simply executed a normal, legal left turn, and you missed him by inches.”

            You are so sure that I was wrong that you don’t even bother to read what I wrote. I specifically stated I executed a legal left turn. The bike was going straight ahead, not making a left as you stated, not I. If he had been making a left, there would not have been any problem. He would have made it on my left side.

            I probably did look over my shoulder, but I can’t swear to it.

            “Why were you so impatient that you couldn’t yield to him (as required by law)?”

            Okay counselor, I was not impatient at all. Here is what happened again. I was standing still in the middle of the intersection waiting to make a left hand turn. I stated that it was at 34th Street. After consulting Google Maps, I realized that it actually was at 23rd Street, since there is no bicycle lane on Second Avenue north of 34th Street and I specifically remember a bicycle lane north of the intersection. I also did not pass any bicycle as I approached the intersection. I might have passed him a half block earlier.

            I momentarily paused before making my left turn coming to a complete stop to make sure there was nothing on my left side. I also was very cautious to make sure there were no pedestrians in or approaching the crosswalk since it was dark and rainy. After I determined that the coast was all clear I started making the turn very cautiously at about two miles per hour. Before I was one-third into the crosswalk, a bicycle on my left hand side who was going straight ahead and who could quite clearly see my that my left turn signal was on, decided that he didn’t want to be bothered to slow down from the 20 mph he was going to allow me to make my left turn.

            Because of his stupidity and impatience, not mine, he risks his life by veering around my car and zooms in front of it, continuing straight along Second Avenue as I am making my left turn. If there would have been a pedestrian in the crosswalk, he would have hit him.

            When you see a car about to make a left turn, common sense says you should slow down to see what the vehicle is going to do, not continue driving at the maximum possible speed in horrible road conditions thinking you can out run a car on a bike which is what he in fact did. I am doing 2 mph cautiously not wanting to hit any pedestrian and he is doing 20 recklessly.The last thing I expected was a bike going straight to pass me on the left. I do not even believe his front headlight was operational. and I didn’t see any reflectors as he passed me.

            “It was an invisible bicycle? This I’ve got to (not) see.”

            Yes he was invisible. If I did pass him a block earlier without noticing, it was his fault not mine. No reflective clothing, no reflectors, and perhaps no headlight. And when you are driving you are looking straight ahead, not concentrating on the bike lane. Just because the law doesn’t require reflective clothing at night for cyclists doesn’t mean you devoid yourself of all common sense. Of course there is nothing I could say where you would even admit that a cyclist was wrong.

            Here is another instance of an “invisible bicycle”. About 17 years ago, I was a passenger in a car driven by a friend of mine. We stopped at a stop sign. After looking both ways, and seeing nothing, my friend proceeds across the intersection at about 5 to 10 mph. It was also dark and rainy at 11:30 PM. Just as we are passing the middle of the street, I notice from the side window a bicycle pedaling at top speed a half block away at what appeared to be a collision course, but I couldn’t be sure.

            I didn’t know if I should say something or just hope for the best that he would miss us. If I yelled stop, the car might have stopped right in front of the cyclist causing him to hit us. If I yelled “speed up” I could have startled the driver causing him to crash. So I said nothing, thinking the cyclist would at least try to slow down.

            My friend did not see the cyclist, first because he was a half block away, second because he was wearing all black clothes on a black bike without a headlight at night in the rain. Also, all the street lights on that block were not functioning. He made no effort to slow down when he saw the car crossing the intersection but continued at full speed.

            He ran right into the car but lucky for him, turned right and grabbed onto the car as it proceeded at 5 mph avoiding a head on crash. He fell off he bike but was not injured. Of course that didn’t prevent him from suing my friend and trying to collect his big payoff. After three years, the case was finally thrown out of court because he couldn’t produce any medical bills for injuries.

            I only happened to see him because i was looking out the right side passenger window at the time. You would not have seen him looking out the windshield. Do you believe in invisible bicycles now? Or is the motorist always wrong and the cyclist always right as you and the Streetsblog folks seem to believe?

            “Congratulations on breaking the law but still managing to not kill someone! How about taking responsibility for your own actions?”

            I do not believe I was breaking any law. I arrived at the intersection first. I have a legal obligation to wait for pedestrians to cross before making a left hand turn which I did. I have no obligation to wait for bicycles who are a half block behind me who don’t want to exercise caution by slowing down on what was a miserable night for driving, but going top speed thinking they can pass a car and risk hitting a pedestrian by entering a crosswalk he had no business entering, and trying to go around a car in the process of making a left turn which is exactly what happened. He does not have a bicycle lane across the intersection but has to share the lane with cars,so he needs to exercise caution which he did not.

            How about asking the cyclist to take responsibility for his actions for a change? I do take responsibility for my actions.

          • Andrew

            Nice try, but before turning left, motorists are required by law to yield to cyclists on their left, regardless of the presence or absence of a bike line, regardless of whether the cyclists are also turning or are going straight, regardless of the color of the cyclists’ clothing, and regardless of the status of your turn signal. The cyclist was under no obligation to yield to you, and, depending on the exact circumstances, it may have been difficult for the cyclist to stop in time.

            As I’ve said before, I’m not a cyclist, but I am a pedestrian, and I do walk after dark, which this time of year means after 4:30 PM or so. Like most pedestrians, I do not have headlights. And the coat I normally wear is, as is common, darkly colored. Yet I rely on motorists seeing me and stopping or yielding to me as appropriate – otherwise I very simply wouldn’t be able to cross the street. If you cannot see a darkly dressed cyclist or pedestrian on a city street at night, then please make your way (without driving) to your nearest ophthalmologist for a complete exam before you drive again.

          • Allan Rosen

            Nice try but I just had my yearly ophtamolgy exam two months ago and I passed with flying colors.

            Anyone else but you can see that the cyclist was fully wrong. You just don’t want to see it.

            I noticed you didn’t say anything about the “invisible cyclist” my my friend encountered, but I am sure that cyclist was also in the right and of course there will always be some street lights out of order although DOT does their absolute best to repair them.

            Accidents can in fact happen in spite of soeone’s best attempts to avoid them. Sunlight can temporarily blind someone for example. But of course you woud blame the motorist for not wearing the proper sunglasses. But if a cyclist was blinded by sunlight and caused an accident, the motorist would still be to blame because a cyclist or pedestrian is never wrong. It is the motorist in all instances, even if the cyclist happens to be going the wrong way.

  • http://cowboykillr.blogspot.com/ cowboykillr

    Better idea: MTA should set up traffic cameras (much like http://11foot8.com/), record the fallout, then sell the video for a profit. We could probably balance the city’s budget with the proceeds.

    • levp

      Definitely read the FAQ on that site! (http://11foot8.com/faq/) Hilarious!

      For example:

      Are the drivers stupid?
      No idea. They certainly seem distracted and the rental truck drivers are also probably inexperienced.

      And if you think it’s just americans, that site links to a French one: http://www.2m40.com

      Different place, same cr@p…

  • Subway Stinker

    Do the truckers who scrape the overpass with their trailers get a ticket from nypd or send a bill for structural damage?

  • Subway Stinker

    I have yet to figure out why bicyclists frequnetly wear dark clothing while on their bikes at night or rainy weather? In the old days, we all wore dark to absorb sunlight in winter, but modern fabrics and clothing have made such practice as bubbimeisis. Also, did you know that at senior centers, they are taught, among other things, to wear light colored clothes at night, for precisely this reason.? I attended a class entitled Street Survival Tips for the Young at Heart. Important not to step off curb while waiting for the light to change. Many crushed by rear wheels.