Archive for the tag 'driving'

Vision ZeroThe Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic-related fatalities has been met with mixed reviews in car-dependent neighborhoods like those in Southern Brooklyn. Many applaud the city’s intention, but share concerns that it will unfairly penalize drivers.

Now there’s an opportunity to let legislators know how you feel about various elements of the plan, and where they can do better.

There will be a town hall meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street) on Tuesday, April 1, at 7 p.m., where Brooklyn residents are invited to discuss the action plan outlining how to eliminate traffic-related fatalities.

Among the initiative’s proposals is an increase in police enforcement for moving violations, implement speed and red-light cameras and reduce the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour. The plan also calls for closer scrutiny of accidents that result in critical injuries or death, and to re-engineer street designs to make them safer for pedestrians. You can see a more complete list of the Vision Zero proposals here.

Local pols have pushed for the opportunity to give voice to residents, hoping to collaborate on the implementation of proposals rather than have them handed down from up high.

“Nobody knows the streets in your community better than you do,” said Councilmember Chaim Deutsch in a press release. “This town hall meeting will give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and speak out on potentially dangerous traffic locations.”

According to his release:

Community members who attend the meeting will be provided the opportunity to point out specific problem locations throughout the borough where they perceive hazards or additional safety concerns to exist. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other city council members representing Brooklyn neighborhoods will also be in attendance.

 

Source: _chrisUK/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: Since the snow and ice evaporated, most drivers probably assumed maneuvering along city streets would be trouble-free. But now they have to deal with another aggravating upshot generated by this year’s severe weather — a plague of potholes. They’re not nearly as harsh as the 10 plagues God smite on the Egyptians in Exodus, but the proliferation of gaps and fissures in the pavement are, nonetheless, plentiful and problematical.

Under ordinary conditions the city’s roads are rough enough, but after two months of wicked weather and frigid temperatures, those thoroughfares have taken a licking and keep on cracking, creating one final winter souvenir — an obstacle course that scars our streets. Drivers who don’t avoid those fissures typically experience unnerving jolts or, worse, costly vehicle damage.

The only roads likely to be worse than our pothole-peppered streets may be those pitted with bomb craters in war-torn Afghanistan.

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KCC

Administrators at Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard) are considering playing driver education videos on screens throughout the campus, in response to concerns from Manhattan Beach residents about reckless driving.

The announcement came from Councilman Chaim Deutsch during a recent Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting, saying that the school – whose traffic has long been a thorn in residents’ sides – affirmed during a meeting with him that they would play the videos.

Deutsch explained how he met with the school’s president to discuss the possibility of broadcasting videos that would promote safe driving, such as coming to a full stop a stop signs and always look for pedestrians.

“They agreed,” he concluded to a crowd of applause.

A spokesperson for Kingsborough, though, said that they had only agreed to look into the matter.

“We’re not doing that yet,” said Ruby Ryles, Kingsborough’s spokesperson. “It’s a matter of looking into it and evaluating the viability of it.”

Ryles noted that the school already promotes safe driving by sending emails to the student body about driving techniques.

“Kingsborough has always promoted safe driving and being a good neighbor,” Ryles said.

Deutsch, though, said he was left with an entirely different message when the meeting ended.

“I left the meeting thinking they were going to do it,” he said. “We’re all common sense people. I don’t see this being a big deal. I’m very confident that this will happen.”

Deutsch also noted that he wasn’t “singling out Kingsborough students,” but wanted to raise car safety awareness throughout the area and broadcasting videos in the school is one way of doing that.

Oriental Boulevard near Falmouth Street, the scene of an accident that left a 4-year-old dead in 2010. (Source: Reader submission)

The following is a press release from the offices Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), at a joint hearing of the Transportation and Public Safety committees of the New York City Council, called upon Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to install a traffic light at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, a busy intersection adjacent to a playground, where fatal automobile accidents have occurred. As a result, Manhattan Beach residents have identified this intersection as requiring a more comprehensive traffic-control device than the current yellow-blinking signal.

(Previously on Sheepshead Bites:

“The people of Manhattan Beach have long recognized the need for traffic-calming initiatives, including a traffic light, at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, where recent traffic accidents on this busy thoroughfare have claimed two lives,” Councilman Deutsch stated. “Drivers have repeatedly complained that the flashing-yellow signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue is more confusing than helpful. As such, the existing blinking signal merely exacerbates an already hazardous environment for motorists and pedestrians alike.”

“Due to its close proximity to Kingsborough Community College, Leon Goldstein High School, MJHS Menorah Home & Hospital, Manhattan Beach Park, and private homes, it is imperative that the city take the necessary steps to heighten traffic safety along Oriental Boulevard.” said Council Member Deutsch. “Further tragic reminders are not necessary to emphasize the need for safety initiatives along Oriental Boulevard, and a traffic signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue would be a good place to start.”

Council Member Deutsch supports many of the initiatives proposed in the Vision Zero plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has pledged to take decisive and sustained action to reduce street fatalities and injuries. In the past year, 291 New Yorkers have been killed in car crashes, and 15,465 pedestrians and bicyclists were injured in collisions with automobiles. Unfortunately, some of these collisions, and even some deaths have occurred in recent years near Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. In 2010, a four-year-old boy was struck and killed by a city bus, and, in 2008, a Kingsborough Community College student was killed riding his motorcycle. Both accidents occurred on Oriental Boulevard.

During a Joint Transportation and Public Safety City Council Committee hearing with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on February 24, Council Member Deutsch reminded the city agency of Oriental Boulevard’s infamous traffic safety history, and the obligation it had to replace the flashing-yellow light at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue with a traffic signal. At the hearing, Commissioner Trottenberg agreed that the flashing-yellow light might cause confusion.

“I look forward to working with Commissioner Trottenberg, and the Department of Transportation to ensure that the goal of Vision Zero, to eliminate traffic deaths and increase safety in New York City, quickly becomes a reality,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “With that in mind, I implore the DOT to heed the call of the residents of Manhattan Beach to install a traffic signal at Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, and implement other traffic safety initiatives along Oriental Boulevard to insure that no other residents suffer the same heartbreaking fate as the young lives already lost.”

After a 23-day suspension, alternate side parking is now back in effect.

Alternate side parking regulations are now reinstated citywide as of Monday, February 24. Payment at parking meters will also be in effect throughout the city.

The regulations had been suspended since January 31 because of snow and ice, and to keep people from having to move their cars for street cleaning. It was an appreciated break by motorists, who would’ve been hard pressed to find new parking spaces with mountains of snow taking up spots.

The 23-day suspension is going near the top of the list for longest suspensions in the city’s history. The top slot stays with the Koch Administration, when alternate side parking was suspended for 62 consecutive days in 1978. And after the September 11th attacks, Manhattan did without alternate side parking for 30 days, while the rest of the city saw a 22-day suspension, the Daily News notes.

The paper also calculates that there have been 41 days out of a total of 54 days in 2014 that have seen the rules suspended.

Source: formulanone/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday unveiled the 63-points of his Vision Zero proposal aimed at eliminating pedestrian deaths, and some of the steps make Michael Bloomberg look like a Detroit industry lobbyist.

De Blasio’s plan pushes a citywide reduction of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour from the current 30, as well as the installation of more speed and red light cameras, more cops focused on moving violations, and – everyone’s favorites – more speed bumps, bike lanes and possibly pedestrian plazas across the five boroughs.

It’s not all bad news for me-first drivers; the plan also calls for widening parking lanes to keep delivery vehicles out of travel lanes, and investigating an automated system that would penalize taxicabs by pausing their meters if the driver exceeds the speed limit. They’re also looking at improving street lighting at more than 1,000 intersections.

Here’s some background from the New York Times:

Some of the mayor’s proposals — like lowering the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour from 30 and expanding the installation of red-light and speed-tracking cameras that issue tickets — require approval in the state capital, where the administration is asking lawmakers to approve a tax increase on the city’s top earners to finance prekindergarten programs.

Though the Bloomberg administration pressed the Legislature for years, with mixed success, to approve the expansion of automated enforcement cameras, Mr. de Blasio predicted “a receptive audience in Albany” this time around.

Pursuing jaywalkers will not remain a part of the plan, de Blasio noted, although the city has issued 215 summonses for jaywalking in a little over a month, compared to 27 over the same period last year.

More cops are also proposed, particularly to crack down on bad turning. amNY reports:

Citing police statistics that speeding and “inappropriate turning” were to blame in 70% of pedestrian fatalities, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department would increase the number of officers devoted to deterring bad driving and investigating crashes.

There are about 250 pedestrians deaths and 4,000 serious injuries a year, the report says.

Some more stats from the Wall Street Journal:

Since Mr. de Blasio took office Jan. 1, more than 20 people have been killed in traffic crashes, he said. In 2013, according to a preliminary tally, there were 286 traffic deaths, a 3% increase from 2012 and a 15% increase from 2011.

On a related note, the city doled out nearly 4,000 speeding tickets since the installation of speed cameras last month, the mayor said.

bridge

The Belt Parkway’s lunar-like surface will see some love this weekend, but that means potential trouble for late night commuters.

As the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to address damage to the highway from the active winter season, crews will be resurfacing key portions of the Belt Parkway between Knapp Street and Flatbush Avenue.

Beginning Friday evening, two of three westbound lanes will be closed between 8:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 8. During these work hours, eastbound drivers can use Exit 9A towards Knapp Street and Sheepshead Bay while westbound drivers can use Exit 11N for northbound Flatbush Avenue or 11S for southbound Flatbush Avenue and the Rockaways.

These partial closures will allow for a targeted resurfacing of areas requiring maintenance, including both milling and paving in only one evening in each direction. This one-day process eliminates any rough roadways for drivers and speeds the reopening of this stretch of the Belt. During this project, motorists are urged to avoid the area if possible and use alternate routes.

This work marks the first of several targeted, overnight maintenance efforts along the Belt planned for the coming weeks, and details on those will be announced as they become available. This resurfacing comes as DOT roadway crews ramp up their seasonal pothole and street maintenance work as part of their continuing response to this season’s heavy snow. Already this year, DOT has addressed more than 61,000 potholes across the city, including nearly 17,000 in Brooklyn and more than 24,000 on arterial roadways like the Belt.

Gerritsen

As the flier above shows, there will be late-night lane closures on the westbound Belt Parkway at Gerritsen Inlet every night this week, from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

There will also be lane closures on the eastbound Belt Parkway on Thursday night, during the same time period.

Consult the flier above for more information.

The Department of Transportation mapped out the speed of cars in areas near schools where

Well, the day has come. Starting today, speed cameras placed near schools throughout the city will begin ticketing people who are driving above the speed limit in school zones, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday.

City officials won’t release the locations of the new cameras, which were installed last September after New York State lawmakers passed a bill authorizing it. The “safety measure,” as the city is calling it, has been something former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration tried to pass for more than a decade, according to a city website.

As we reported last year, the bill is a five-year pilot program and it allows 20 cameras to be installed. As of today, the city installed six of them in the fall, but did not issue fines – only warnings. Now the cameras will issue $50 tickets for those who go faster than the 20 mile-per-hour limit of slow zones near schools.

The 20 cameras will be rotated around 100 schools that the Department of Transportation deemed to be danger zones based on their studies and findings. While the location of the cameras at any given time will remain a mystery, the list of target schools is available here.

“The cameras are mobile so we’ll be able to move them around and address high-speed locations that may change over time,” former Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan previously told WNYC. “Any school where there’s excessive speeding will be fair game. One of the deterrents is that people don’t necessarily know where they are.””

De Blasio also supports the “home rule,” which would allow the city to install cameras at their own discretion without having to wait for Albany to pass anything, a source of contention for the last mayor.

Source: plateshack.com

Our readers often complain to us about car dealers in the neighborhood parking their cars on residential blocks and gobbling up their parking spots. So we decided to look into the legality behind it and found that, according to the Department of Transportation, commercial vehicles, including cars being sold by dealers, cannot sit in a public street parking spot longer than three hours.

According to locals, though, some dealers and leasing companies have been wildly abusing the privilege, leaving cars on residential streets for days on end. We’ve even heard of some cases where they swap around the license plates to fool authorities into thinking the cars have moved.

Now, let’s be clear: this is not every local dealer – or even the majority of them. But a few bad apples are giving the entire local industry a bad reputation. So we’ve put together this handy guide for how you can complain about illegally parked cars with dealership plates in the hopes that we can curb the practice, and level the playing ground for the good-guy dealers and leasers who store their cars responsibly (and, often, at a cost).

If you see a car parked day after day in the same spot sporting dealer plates (which are clearly marked with the word “Dealer” on it), snap a photo for your records, and note the location by the address of the nearest building. Then it’s time to pick up the phone, turn your computer on and get that precious parking spot back.

  1. Call 311 and tell them that a car dealer is storing their goods on a residential block. Offer the photo, which should include the plates and hopefully a time stamp. The 311 representative will give you a service request number. Write it down.
  2. Follow that up with a call to your Community Board. For those living in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach and Homecrest, it’s going to be Community Board 15. The Community Board provides much the same function as 311 – but with a human touch and a personal stake, improving the chances of a follow-up with the appropriate agencies. Community Board 15′s number is (718) 332-3008. When you call, tell them you have the 311 service request number. They’ll do their thing.
  3. If it’s a chronic problem in a certain area, stop by the 61st Precinct’s Community Council meetings, which take place on the second Wednesday of every month. There you can speak to the commanding officer directly and publicly, and often in the presence of elected officials, putting a little bit of pressure on the NYPD to provide a response. If the cops keep finding cars from the same dealer, they’ll likely stop by their offices to have a word with the owner.
  4. Call your councilman. This one’s extra credit if you really want to push the point. If you take this road, make sure to give the councilman’s representative that 311 number.

Finally, tell Sheepshead Bites about it. We want to know where exactly this is happening. If you’re concerned about privacy, email us at nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com, otherwise, leave the location in the comments, as well as an estimate of how long it’s been going on. We’re especially interested in the locations and timing, and are looking at putting a map together to identify problem areas.

One thing: please don’t speculate in our comments about which dealerships are doing this. Unless we can verify it independently, we don’t want to see this post become a place for making accusations that can harm potentially innocent local businesses.

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