Archive for the tag 'driving'

A car accident at Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue (Photo by  Tom Paolillo)

A car accident at Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue (Photo by Tom Paolillo)

BETWEEN THE LINES: Beginning last Friday, New York City motorists, and anyone passing through the jurisdiction, are required to drive at a leisurely 25 miles per hour on most streets or face the consequences. It’s even slower — though more fitting — at 20 mph near schools.

Kind of brings to mind the opening line from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Feelin’ Groovy”: Slow down, you move too fast.

I’m a safety proponent, especially when I’m behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound vehicle. I drive more cautiously as I age, as I’m fully aware my response time has correspondingly diminished. Yet, I regularly see drivers carelessly and, occasionally, recklessly motoring along local streets, which is likely the principal intention for the speed limit reduction. And, ultimately, to save the lives of pedestrians and motorists.

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Source: DOT

Source: DOT

Starting tonight, there will be several nighttime closures on eastbound and westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway to accommodate construction. The work is part of the Seven Bridges Project, a renovation of the highway’s seven bridges and overpasses that began in 2009, and will continue through March 2015.

Bay Ridge Avenue (Exit 1)

At 11pm, the westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue (Exit 1) will be shifted right, to the newly completed section of the Belt Parkway Bridge at Bay Ridge Avenue. The two lanes of the eastbound roadway will remain in their current configuration. This traffic shift will allow for a work zone in the center of the bridge in order to begin the second stage of the bridge rehabilitation.

Source: DOT

Source: DOT

Gerritsen Inlet Bridge

Beginning tonight at 10pm, and continuing for approximately three weeks, overnight roadway paving will take place on both the eastbound and westbound Belt Parkway at the Gerritsen Inlet Bridge (between Exit 9 and Exit 11).  Closures will begin in the first lane at 10pm, followed by the second lane at 11:30pm. During the paving operation, one lane will remain open to traffic at all times, however delays should be expected. All travel lanes will re-open at 5am each morning, and all work will be completed in one direction before the opposite direction begins.

Work will be suspended for the holidays, on Friday, November 21, from 6am to 11:59pm, and again from Monday, November 24, 6am through Thursday, January 2, 11:59pm.

Source: peds.org

We don’t have these. But wouldn’t they be cool? (Source: peds.org)

A citywide speed limit reduction goes into effect tomorrow, November 7, dropping from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

Part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and make streets safer, the speed limit bill was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support over the summer.

The new 25 MPH speed limit will affect all streets in the five boroughs, except those where a different speed limit is posted. Speed limits on highways will remain the same, and some “big streets,” which the DOT says have been designed to accommodate faster speeds, will remain at 30 MPH. Other streets — like those near schools — may have lower speed limits posted.

Eighty-nine new speed limit signs arrived at the city’s sign shop in Queens today, and workers will begin installing them on bridges, highways, and at city borders–all the “gateways” of the city. Over 3,000 signs are set to go up in the next year, costing the city over $500,000.

Initially, some local politicians criticized the bill. Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood, Flatbush, and Ditmas Park, argued it was too broad to implement citywide, while Councilman Mark Treyger, representing Coney Island and Gravesend, argued it would negatively impact working class people on their daily commutes. But no one is more furious than Denis Hamill, who suggested in a fiery Daily News editorial this week that road rage over the law may cause traffic deaths.

The NYPD vowed to use “discretion” while enforcing the law, but warned that anyone who exceeds the 25 MPH limit after today may be issued a summons.

photo via tsc nyc marathon

This Sunday, November 2 is the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon–and whether you’re planning to go out and cheer or steer clear of race-related traffic concerns altogether, there’s an extensive list of street closures you might want to get to know. Via the NYPD:

Beginning at midnight on Sunday, November 2, the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic. At approximately 7 a.m. rolling street closures will commence along the route in preparation for the marathon… Street closures and parking restrictions are expected to cause traffic delays. The use of public transportation is highly recommended.

Below are the Brooklyn roads being affected by closures (see full five borough list here):

  • Dahlgren Place between Verrazano Bridge and 92nd Street (North Bound)
  • 92nd Street between Dahlgren Place and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between 92nd Street and Flatbush Avenue
  • Flatbush Avenue between 4th Avenue and Lafayette Avenue
  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway (South-bound) between Verrazano Bridge and 79th Street
  • 7th Avenue between 79th Street and 75th Street / Bay Ridge Parkway
  • 7th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • 74th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • Bay Ridge Parkway between 7th Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 92nd Street between Gatling Place and Fort Hamilton Parkway
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway between 92nd Street and 94th Street
  • 94th Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 4th Avenue (North-bound)
  • 4th Avenue between 94th Street and Flatbush Avenue (South-bound)
  • Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue
  • Nassau Avenue between Bedford Ave / Lorimer St and Manhattan Ave
  • Manhattan Avenue between Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue
  • Greenpoint Avenue between Manhattan Ave and McGuiness Boulevard
  • McGuiness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and 48th Avenue
  • Pulaski Bridge (South-bound)

Police also note the security measures for this year’s event for both runners and spectators, including how to make the day easier on yourself:

Prior to taking their starting positions on Staten Island, runners will be screened and their bags inspected. The New York Road Runners has provided the participants with clear bags to expedite this process. Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they will receive on Sunday.

Along the course, bags and backpacks may be subject to search. Bag checks and magnetometer screenings will be conducted in the area of the finish line. Spectators can help expedite, if not alleviate some of the security process, by leaving backpacks at home.

If you’re running in this year’s event, good luck!

Photo via TSC New York City Marathon

I've been told that the owner is definitely an NJ resident who moved from the neighborhood. But the photo is just too good not to use for this post.

I’ve been told that the owner is definitely an NJ resident who moved from the neighborhood. But the photo is just too good not to use for this post.

Apparently, the four car owners in Sheepshead Bay that actually have their car registered in 11235 are paying the highest rates for car insurance of any zip code in New York State.

The data was analyzed by consumer advice website ValuePenguin.com, which attempted to rank the affordability of car insurance across the state. What they found was, lo and behold, New York City has the highest costs, with Brooklyn leading the way. We asked the number-crunchers at ValuePenguin to break it down further, and what they found was that the 11235 zip code covering Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach leads all of Brooklyn.

Drivers in 11235 pay, on average, $5,585 a year, according to the report. That’s 2 percent higher than the borough average, $5,308 a year. The borough itself is 30 percent higher than the city average, and 250 percent higher than the state.

The rates were calculated based on a single 30-year-old male and a 65-year-old male who drives a 2010 Toyota Camry about 12,000 miles a year, to commute to work. It’s based on somebody with a good credit history and in good condition, and hasn’t had an accident or traffic violation in the past five years – so, basically a person who is a better candidate for cheap insurance than this neighborhood’s shoddy, luxury-car driving maniacs.

The other zip code covering a big chunk of Sheepshead Bay, pays $5,351 on average, and 11223 – Gravesend – pays $5,354. Collectively, it appears all the zip codes along the Southern Brooklyn coastline* pay more than the borough average for car insurance:

  • 11214 (Bensonhurst) – $5,354
  • 11223 (Gravesend) – $5,351
  • 11235 (Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay) – $5,585
  • 11229 (Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest) – $5,351

* They did not produce numbers for Coney Island, so we can’t say this comprehensively.

So why is the insurance so high along the coastline? It could be the risk posed by storms like Superstorm Sandy, which saw thousands of cars destroyed in the flood. But seeing as how rates were high even before Sandy, maybe, just maybe, it’s something a little more sinister.

But what’s it matter? Chances are that you have Pennsylvania plates, or you’re a chump.

Check out the study.

25 mph speed limit

Photo via Governor Cuomo’s office.

We know that the biggest fans of Vision Zero and the soon-to-be-reduced speed limit are right here in Southern Brooklyn. I mean, you’ve all been telling us how much you love the idea. But rather than filling up our comments section with those love notes you can finally have those notes read by the Department of Transportation.

In observance of today’s milestone of 25 days until the implementation of the new 25mph speed limit, the department has launched a social media campaign soliciting your hopes and dreams for a slower city.

Today begins our 25 day countdown to NYC’s new speed limit of 25 MPH (unless otherwise posted). Beginning today, 25 New Yorkers will tell us why they want drivers to slow down in NYC on NYC DOT’s Facebook page.

You can join the countdown by posting why you want NYC’s new speed limit to be 25 MPH – just add #25MPH to your posts and spread the word on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Yep, all you need to do to ensure an underpaid member of the Department of Transportation’s communication team sees your feedback on a new 25mph speed limit is add #25mph to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. And, if your posts and/or accounts are set to public, the whole world will see them, too. Just like this one:

We’re sure this will not backfire in any way, and will create a useful, constructive dialog about traffic safety. Because that’s what always happens on the internet.

The new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

e16thst

THE COMMUTESheepshead Bay has been the victim of over-development.

Development itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it is good for the economy. However, when development occurs, the infrastructure must also be improved.

Block after block, the neighborhood has seen one-family homes replaced by six-family condos. Several new mid-rise developments have also appeared on or near Sheepshead Bay Road and more are planned. This has placed a strain on traffic, especially along the narrow 18th Century Sheepshead Bay Road, formerly known as Shore Road.

In the 19th Century, our city forefathers planned a numbered street grid system that revolutionized our roads. Sheepshead Bay Road, however, predated that grid. The surface Manhattan Beach Railway, which operated passenger service until 1922, ran along East 17th Street south of Avenue X, (which is why that portion of the street is wider than the rest) and along the western fork near Jerome Avenue cutting through the super block soon to be developed with a luxury high-rise. The railway extended along the Brighton line and between what is now West End Avenue and Corbin Place to Manhattan Beach, serving the area’s two luxury (Manhattan Beach and Oriental) hotels.

That is the reason East 16th Street dead-ends at Sheepshead Bay Road and does not continue until the other side of Voorhies Avenue.

Normally, when superblocks are created, the adjacent streets are widened to accommodate the displaced traffic from eliminated streets. In this case, no street was eliminated, only some railroad tracks. In 1922, automobile traffic was still sparse and the word “superblock” did not even exist until large housing projects made them commonplace decades later. Sheepshead Bay Road, a street lined mostly with small hotels, was never widened, as traffic increased and those hotels were demolished or as residences were converted to storefronts.

Currently, there are a half dozen vacant storefronts on the northeast corner of Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue, suggesting more development in the near future, increasing traffic even more. Traffic on Voorhies Avenue is already a nightmare every Monday through Friday after 3pm, with a dozen cars lined up on East 18th Street waiting to make a right turn onto Voorhies Avenue. (A left turn is all but impossible.)

Changes are needed.

More History

When I proposed the rerouting of the B49 in 1978 from Ocean Avenue to replace the B1 along Sheepshead Bay Road, I suggested it operate on the circuitous northbound route it currently uses, including Shore Parkway and East 14th Street, because it was three or four minutes quicker than Sheepshead Bay Road. It was tabled for 30 years, and by that point the time saved had been diminished. The roundabout route is just as dreadful as along Sheepshead Bay Road. Instead it was implemented recently due to cars constantly standing in the no standing zone on Sheepshead Bay Road, and, with the lack of traffic enforcement, it became more difficult for two buses to pass simultaneously.

My proposed routing no longer saves three or four minutes. The rerouting from Ocean Avenue, instead of merely adding five minutes to the B49 as it did in 1978, now can add as much as 15 minutes for through riders when compared to the pre-1978 route. Therefore, I now believe we need some special buses during school hours or an additional bus route bypassing the subway station as it did prior to 1978. However, that is a subject for another article.

The point is that with each new development, traffic gets worse. What if the city decides to sell both municipal parking lots and add still more commercial development as they have done on Kings Highway and are doing in Flushing? What if the El Greco site is developed with another high-rise as has been long rumored (with no substantiation)? We will find out about it when it is too late. What will happen to traffic after five new high-rises are constructed near Sheepshead Bay Road? We could have gridlock.

Let’s Not Lose an Opportunity

Right now, with the proposed luxury condos at 1501 Voorhies Avenue, near Sheepshead Bay Road, we have the opportunity to extend East 16th Street to Voorhies Avenue and the north Shore Parkway service road. (A traffic reversal on the service road between East 16th Street and Sheepshead Bay Road would also be required. A redesign of the highway exit would also help.)

We do not need a private pedestrian walkway as currently proposed. A new street could be accomplished even with a gated entrance (though it would be a little more difficult) and should be a requirement before any development takes place there. Our local elected officials must insist on it. (Are you listening, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and State Senator Marty Golden?)

A continuation of southbound East 16th Street would enable a conversion of Sheepshead Bay Road to northbound only between the Shore Parkway North service road and Jerome Avenue. It would also permit a simplified B49 bus routing with northbound service returning to Sheepshead Bay Road and southbound service able to use the new East 16th Street. The northbound B4 would be able to use Sheepshead Bay Road as well, with the southbound route also using East 16th Street.

The possibility also exists to widen Sheepshead Bay Road between the Shore Parkway north service road and Emmons Avenue since the Belt Parkway Bridge is slated for reconstruction. All that is required is a slight modification of existing design plans and a few more dollars. No demolition would be required. Note that Nostrand Avenue will be widened when that bridge is reconstructed. Why not widen Sheepshead Bay Road under the Belt Parkway? Extending East 16th Street would have occurred when the Manhattan Beach Railway tracks were ripped up if the city had any foresight. Let us not condemn future generations to saying we had no foresight back in 2014.

In Other News

Last month saw the passing of transit and community activist (and my friend) Dr. John Rozankowski at age 61. If that name is at all familiar, it is because John substituted for me on The Commute on three occasions when I was on vacation. He also wrote for the blog Welcome to the Bronx for the past eight months and for Suite 101 prior to that. He received his PHD in history and was also very active in the successful campaign of Letitia James for Public Advocate, who attended the wake, spoke and stayed until it was over. Obituaries for John appeared in Welcome to the Bronx and the NY Daily News.

His wake was a tribute to race and age relations, an old white Polish gentleman with so many young black and Latino friends. At least 25 people spoke about the man, many with tears in their eyes. At least 50 attended. It was a very moving experience. He was a selfless Republican Conservative who did not let politics get in the way of what he believed in. His only interest was in making the world a better place. That is something we could all learn from.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

25 mph speed limit

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation that reduces the citywide speed limit on residential streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph, a move that lawmakers and advocates said would, if properly enforced, dramatically reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

After state legislators voted in June to allow the city to lower the speed limit, the Council approved the bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, that aims to slow vehicles on streets where speed limits are not posted – meaning roads overseen by the state Department of Transportation (such as expressways and parkways) will not be affected. The reduction is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to dramatically curb traffic injuries and deaths over the next decade.

“Reducing the default speed limit in New York City is the lynchpin of Vision Zero,” Greenfield said in a statement to the press.

City officials said they plan to launch a three week publicity campaign about the speed reduction on Monday, according to the New York Times, and the new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

The nonprofit Transportation Alternatives also backed the Council’s move, saying “if properly enforced, the new speed limit could prevent more than 6,500 traffic injuries in the next year and cut the annual number of pedestrian fatalities in half.”

The group urged de Blasio to quickly give his stamp of approval to the bill – which the mayor is expected to do and sent out his own statement praising the Council’s vote – and stressed that the NYPD and city Department of Transportation need “to send a stronger message about the dangers of speeding by continuing to improve traffic enforcement and public information initiatives.”

“Unsafe driver speed is the number one cause of traffic deaths in the city, killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined,” Transportation Alternatives said in the same statement. “A pedestrian hit by a driver going 25 mph is twice as likely to survive as a person hit at 30mph.”

While Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood as well as Flatbush and Ditmas Park, was in Cleveland for the vote, he said in a statement Tuesday he would have voted against it.

“I fully support the need to reform traffic laws in New York City, and the majority of proposals offered in ‘Vision Zero,’” Williams said. “When the issue of the citywide reduction previously came before the Council, I voted to give the City discretion on lowering the speed limit, since I believed the City deserved to make this decision. At the same time, I believe that this legislation is too broad in the form passed today and I would have voted against it.”

“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the City’s various neighborhoods and major arteries and assess, with specificity, where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” Williams continued. “For example, it makes sense to carve out school zones as necessary places to have a lower speed limit, as many young people populate these areas. Many side streets and other ‘Slow Zones’ in my district would also benefit from a lower limit. In fact, I would vehemently support lowering the speed limit on many residential streets in my district – with some areas even lower than 25 mph.

Williams goes on to say that he will “continue to support increased enforcement, through speed cameras and stepped-up enforcement of current traffic rules and regulations, and have consistently done so.”

Another local member of the Council, Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and Gravesend, voted in favor of the bill, but expressed concerns about enforcement.

“There’s little dispute that there has been a serious number of traffic-related fatalities and there’s no dispute that speed kills,” said Treyger. “The issue that I continue to raise is the issue of enforcement … and making sure it does not become a mechanism for increased revenue, like for these cameras where some of them are problematic. I think it should be for the true intention – to save lives.”

Treyger pointed to the controversial placement of a speed camera on Shore Parkway next to a Belt Parkway exit ramp, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, as an example of “gotcha” enforcement to be avoided.

“To me, ['gotcha' enforcement] undermines the entire program [of Vision Zero]. The intention should not be to harm working families who are just trying to get home,” he said.

Another area pol praised the legislation as potentially life-saving.

“Lowering the speed limit can drastically reduce a serious fatality. My district has a high population of seniors and reducing the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.  No one should ever have to experience the loss of a loved one to a traffic accident,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

To see a copy of the bill, you can go here.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Source: DOT

Source: DOT

Department of Transportation contractors have wrapped up repairs to the eastbound portions of the Belt Parkway between Flatbush Avenue and Rockaway Parkway, and last night kicked off repaving of the westbound lanes on the same segment.

Crews will be milling and resurfacing portions of the westbound Belt Parkway between Rockaway Parkway and Flatbush Avenue from 11pm until 5am, beginning last night.

Full closures of all westbound lanes will occur every night of the week except Saturday night to Monday morning, and will last for approximately two weeks.

Drivers will be directed to a detour that exits at Rockaway Parkway, makes a left onto Flatlands Avenue, continues to Utica Avenue, and then proceeds south onto Flatbush Avenue. See the map above for additional details, including the alternate route using Pennsylvania Avenue.

Work will not occur on the night of Monday, October 13, in observance of Columbus Day, but it will resume Tuesday night.

 

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A Department of Transportation spokesperson refuted Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s claim that a local speed enforcement camera gave out 6,000 violations in a single day. But in a bizarre e-mail exchange, the agency spokesperson refused to provide the actual peak number, instead giving a randomly selected count that was revealed to be below the peak. (Update: The DOT said Wednesday morning that they issued 1,551 violations on July 7, suggesting that that is the peak date.)

Sheepshead Bites first reported yesterday that the controversial camera, at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp on Shore Parkway near Ocean Parkway, doled out approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, according to Deutsch.

The agency’s spokesperson contacted Sheepshead Bites this morning, stating that the number of violations that was publicized was incorrect, and that they would follow up with the correct number. The press officer later said that 1,015 violations were issued on the day being discussed.

Neither Sheepshead Bites nor Councilman Deutsch had specified the date in which 6,000 violations were allegedly issued.

Sheepshead Bites requested further information from the Department of Transportation spokesperson, including the date they sampled from and the number of violations given on the peak day since the camera was implemented.

The Department of Transportation spokesperson said the number given was from July 29, and that the highest number around that date was 1,266; the press officer added that most days were under 1,100. Though asked, the rep would not say if that encompassed the entire time period in which the camera was active.

We asked for the significance of the July 29 date; the spokesperson said it was given as an example. The rep did not say why they chose that date, or why they plucked a date that their own numbers suggested was below average.

Sheepshead Bites pressed on, asking for the number of violations given on the day in which the most violations were given, going back to the date of implementation.

The agency repeated their claim that the Council member was never told the number of violations issued in one day was 6,000.

Despite two additional follow-ups, the agency flack has not stated the number of violations issued on the peak day. After an attempt by the spokesperson to change the subject of the inquiry, the spokesperson has since stopped responding to our emails.

Deutsch, who supports the use of the camera on the condition that the DOT add signage to give drivers a fair chance, declined to comment on the DOT’s rebuttal. Instead, he said, it’s more important that the streets be made safe.

“When someone gets hurt or someone gets killed in a car accident, their families don’t look at statistics,” he said. “At the end of the day we need to make sure our roads are safe.”

Camera enforcement at that location remains in effect.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): The Department of Transportation spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites this morning that 1,551 violations were issued on July 7, suggesting that this was the peak date.

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