Archive for the tag 'tickets'

Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

Councilman Chaim Deutsch is set to introduce legislation that will create a five-minute grace period in the hours of enforcement of the city’s dedicated bus lanes, which he said has created an onslaught of unfair violations for drivers caught in the lane just seconds after the cameras turn on.

Camera enforced bus lanes are the norm for the city’s Select Bus Service routes, including the B44 SBS traveling on Nostrand Avenue. Though some bus lanes are in effect all day, many are only in operation during peak commuting hours. The councilman said his office has received several complaints from constituents that they’re being ticketed just seconds after the enforcement rules begin, a “gotcha” practice that levies fines on drivers whose dashboard clocks are slightly out of sync.

“I always say ‘no two watches have the same time,’” said Deutsch. “That’s why I’m proposing a five-minute grace period, so that people wont get ticketed.”

Deutsch said one of his constituents showed him a $125 ticket for being in the Nostrand Avenue bus lane – just 10 seconds after cameras were set to turn off.

“It’s ludicrous because if someone’s watch is a minute or two off, or five minutes off … people should have a fair shot,” he said. “Same goes for if a cop pulls you over in a bus lane. On his watch, it should be at least 7:05 [if cameras turn on at 7:00].”

The bill is currently being drafted and should be introduced to the City Council in approximately 30 days. It will be sent to the Transportation Committe, which will hold a hearing on it before putting it to a vote.

Deutsch previously battled issues stemming from SBS bus lane enforcement, which first came into effect late last year. Over the summer, dozens of constituents complained that they were unaware of the new regulations and were busted driving in the lanes. But bureaucratic bungling at the Department of Transportation and Department of Finance caused a delay in mailing out the violations, so many received multiple fines before they were aware of the law. The city later agreed to waive all but the first fine during the backlogged period.

With additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein.

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.

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

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

That’s some fast money.

The speed enforcement camera stationed at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp near Ocean Parkway issued approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, earning the city about $300,000 in revenue, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

The camera earned notoriety earlier this month when Sheepshead Bites revealed its location on Shore Parkway between Ocean Parkway and West Avenue, at the very end of a 400-foot-long exit ramp from the Belt Parkway. Locals and Councilman Mark Treyger expressed outrage at the placement, calling it a trap. But the numbers have led Councilman Chaim Deutsch, in whose district the camera is located, to hail it as a success.

“There were 6,000 summonses issued in one day coming off the Belt Parkway. Now it is almost to zero, so the camera is helping,” Deutsch told members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group at a public meeting last week. “But we still want to make sure that people slow down, [that they] have enough time to slow down carefully when they come off the ramp.”

The cameras photograph any vehicles traveling faster than 10mph over the speed limit and send a violation in the mail within 30 days. The fine is $50.

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Deutsch brushed off concerns that the camera could be a speed trap, saying that the steep reduction in the weeks it has been there shows that drivers are changing their behavior. To make sure it’s not all about revenue, he’s urging the Department of Transportation to add signage on the Belt Parkway just before the ramp indicating that there is a speed camera in the vicinity.

“I support that if anyone is speeding, enormous amount of speeds, they deserve a summons,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “But I dont want it to be a ‘gotcha’ camera, and people need to be aware there’s a camera and they should exit the ramp safely.”

He also said that while locals have learned the location and adjusted accordingly, the next season of visitors to Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay would benefit from the early warning while also achieve the goal of safer driving.

“Coming next summer when people come to visit the waterfront communities you’re going to have new people coming in, fresh faces to the area, so at the end of the day you want to slow traffic down when they come off the ramp,” he said. He also doesn’t want drivers slamming on the brakes when they see the camera at the last moment. “They’ll slam on the brakes. So if you have signage several hundred feet before the ramp it gives the driver a chance to slow down and get off safely.”

He said the DOT is studying his proposal.

The DOT did not return several messages requesting confirmation of Deutsch’s numbers, or whether or not they were considering additional signage.

Previously, the DOT told Sheepshead Bites they were not currently planning to relocate the cameras as Councilman Treyger had requested. They added that, at 400 feet long, the Belt Parkway’s exit ramp provided drivers with sufficient space to safely reduce speed.

UPDATE (September 23 @ 4:15pm): A Department of Transportation spokesperson said Deutsch’s claim is incorrect, but refused to reveal the peak number.

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 day.

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)

While opponents of a camera-enforced speed trap on a Belt Parkway exit ramp cry foul, the Department of Transportation says “tough luck.”

The agency said it has no plans to move the speed enforcement camera placed on Shore Parkway at the end of the highway’s Ocean Parkway exit ramp, despite complaints from neighbors and a local City Council member that it’s unfair and undermines the program’s credibility.

A spokesperson for DOT would not confirm the placement of the camera, saying it’s the agency’s policy not to disclose camera locations. However, the spokesperson added that there are no plans to relocate any cameras in Southern Brooklyn.

Moreover, the spokesperson disputed the assertion that it’s a “gotcha” location, noting that the ramp is approximately 400 feet long, enough distance to slow down from highway speeds, and that a sign has been placed indicating that the speed limit is 30 miles per hour.

Violations are not issued to motorists going 10 miles or less over the speed limit, the spokesperson added.

That answer isn’t good enough, said Councilman Mark Treyger. The pol’s office has been flooded with complaints from ticket recipients and yesterday he called on the agency to move the camera closer to Ocean Parkway.

“I don’t think that [the DOT] even addressed my concern. No residents asked them to measure the length of the exit ramp,” said Treyger. “We didn’t ask them to measure how long it is. We asked them, in the interest of public safety, to move it where pedestrians are actually using [a crosswalk].”

Treyger said he’s going to appeal to the agency to reconsider the location. His office will also begin notifying residents to be aware of the camera.

The councilman, a former school teacher, said the placement of the camera does little to protect students at nearby Lincoln High School or other pedestrians, since it’s not placed near a pedestrian crosswalk.

“To my knowledge I don’t believe any pedestrians are crossing near exit ramps for highways,” Treyger said. There is no sidewalk on the highway side of Shore Parkway where the camera is placed.

By moving it just a few hundred feet up the block to the Ocean Parkway intersection, they can catch motorists who are speeding through crosswalks. The current placement instead has the appearance of enforcement for revenue-generating purposes, the pol suggested.

“The goal of the speed cameras is to protect public safety and make sure people are abiding by laws. But when you place them in these ‘gotcha’ locations it really threatens to undermine the credibility of this program. We want to save lives, but ‘gotcha’ locations in my opinion don’t accomplish that goal,” he said.

Clarification (3:00 p.m.): The camera itself is in Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s district, not Treyger’s – although many affected by it are in Treyger’s district. We are reaching out to Deutsch’s office as well.

camera-1

Neighbors are crying foul over what appears to be a high-tech speed trap, after learning that the Department of Transportation placed a speed enforcement camera where they say speeding is unavoidable.

The camera is placed adjacent to Lincoln High School on Shore Parkway, between West Avenue and Ocean Parkway. It’s perched just above where the Belt Parkway exit ramp leads into the service road – catching drivers while they’re still decelerating from highway speeds.

“This camera seems to be conveniently placed so close to the exit ramp that you are almost guaranteed to set off this speed trap,” said neighbor Connie C., who was shocked to find a $50 ticket in the mail for a July 22 drive past the location. “[It's] positioned right in between the exit ramp and the entrance ramp, so basically they have you either way. As you are accelerating to get onto the ramp to enter the highway or coming off the highway at 50mph. I thought is seemed quite fishy.”

(UPDATE [September 4, 2014]: The DOT will not relocate the camera. Read that story here.)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Connie, who said she generally supports the use of speed cameras, isn’t the only neighbor to notice. Councilman Mark Treyger’s office said they’ve received numerous complaints and the pol is outraged at the apparent money grab.

“The role of speed cameras is to reduce speeding and increase safety in appropriate locations around our neighborhood. They should not be placed in locations like the start of an exit ramp because this ‘gotcha’ location plays into fears of many that these cameras are solely revenue generating machines,” said Treyger.

The pol is urging the DOT to move the camera closer to Ocean Parkway, where they’ll have more time to slow down after exiting the highway.

“Speed cameras can have an important role to play in our efforts to eliminate fatalities on city streets, but placing them in highly questionable locations threatens to undermine this program’s credibility,” he said.

Per a report this week, there are 23 active speed cameras operating near school intersections. They’ve issued 183,000 tickets since the first cameras came online in January. That number is about to skyrocket to 140 total speed cameras after Albany approved the expansion earlier this year.

The Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment on this article. The DOT said they will not move the camera, as the 400-foot-long ramp provides enough room to slow down safely.

Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

Signage for bus lane enforcement (Source: DOT)

The B44 Select Bus Service route on Nostrand Avenue became the latest in the city to feature camera-enforced bus lanes, but a snag in mailing out violations and the functioning of the cameras themselves has caused drivers unaware of the new restrictions to receive dozens of violations months after the incident.

The Department of Finance and Department of Transportation conceded that the agencies had failed to send out the tickets in a timely manner, catching drivers unaware and allowing them to repeat the mistake.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch won the concessions from the agencies, who are now agreeing to suspend mailing and to review all violation that occurred on the route between March 17 and July 25. Motorists will still be fined, but only for the first violation they received, and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.

“When people get a violation, it’s to educate them that they did something unlawful and they have to stop,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “Having it come to them three or four months later doesn’t serve that purpose. Given that it’s the newest SBS bus lane, a lot of people still don’t understand how it should be used even though there are signs posted.”

Deutsch said the cameras were also taking multiple photos of the same vehicles, causing additional violations for the same incident. He said the DOT has corrected that problem.

During active hours, a vehicle may only enter the bus lane to make a right turn, drop off passengers, or make or receive a delivery. More about bus lanes can be found in this DOT handout.

The violation carries a $125 fine, but with motorists unaware of the changes and not receiving the summonses promptly, they were fined multiple times. Deutsch said one constituent received approximately $7,000 in fines. He added that about two dozen constituents have already reported this problem to him, “but there’s a lot more.”

Camera enforcement on the route will remain in effect, but the agencies said they will go through their records and contact those who received multiple violations. If you think you’re one of them, you can speed up the process of having the summonses tossed or receiving a refund by calling Deutsch’s district office at (718) 368-9176.

A 2012 collision on Bedford Avenue and Emmons Avenue, which neighbors say is a common occurrence. (Photo: Tom Paolillo)

The New York Police Department has been busy this year. In February, the number of tickets issued across the city for traffic violations have gone up. But things look different in our local 61st Precinct, which covers Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach.

In this area there has been no increase or decrease in the number of tickets drivers received in February 2014 when compared to the number issued in February 2013, according to an analysis of the NYPD’s data by WNYC. It has stayed a consistent 65, while most precincts in the city have seen drastic increases during the first month of Vision Zero policy implementation.

Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct, for example, shot up 169 percent. Bed-Stuy’s 79th Precinct increased a whopping 322 percent.

According to a WNYC analysis, the increase is due to the fact that “most precincts stepped up enforcement of speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and failure to stop at traffic signals.” The ramped up enforcement is part of the policy implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities. As part of the plan, officers are called on to increase enforcement against the most dangerous kinds of violations.

In February 2014, the NYPD reported 220 collisions in the 61st Precinct. There was only one fatality, a man who was struck and killed by a private plow in front of the Oceana complex in Brighton Beach.

In a new community newsletter to be produced monthly by the 61st Precinct, the local command announced that traffic enforcement would ramp up in the neighborhood, with a particular focus on locations with a history of pedestrian-related accidents.

They wrote:

In accordance with Mayor De Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign, one of the top priorities of the New York City Police Department is to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle collisions. Officers on patrol will focus enforcement related to keeping pedestrians and motorists safe by issuing summonses that include the failure to stop at stop signs and red lights, as well as the failure to yield to pedestrians.

Our current top pedestrian related collision location is the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue Z. Our partnership with the community includes sharing vital information so that our friends, family and neighbors will remain safe.

Source: Peds.org

Motorists trying to gun it through through the streets of Sheepshead Bay are the second most likely to be caught in all of Brooklyn, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

One hundred ninety-eight speeding tickets were issued by the 61st Precinct, putting Sheepshead Bay in second place overall in Brooklyn, according to statistics released by the NYPD.

Overall, combined with tickets handed out by highway cops, about 15,000 speeding tickets were issued in Brooklyn this past year, far fewer than the 43,920 tickets issued for talking on cell phones while driving or the 37,010 tickets issued for illegally-tinted car windows.

The tracking of speeding tickets has become a hot-button issue in recent months as multiple hit-and-run tragedies have dominated headlines across the city. As we’ve previously reported, State Senator Marty Golden has been at the forefront of trying to stiffen penalties for reckless drivers, and more local politicians are following his lead.

“This data shows that Brooklyn needs more resources and clearer enforcement goals to deal effectively with dangerous drivers,” said state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Crown Heights), a former police captain and frontrunner to become Brooklyn’s next borough president. “Until these speedsters know that they’ll be caught and harshly prosecuted for their reckless behavior, they will continue to put lives at risk on our streets day-in and day-out.”

To fight dangerous speeders, officials and lawmakers have begun pushing for a program that would install speed enforcement cameras.

According to the Daily News, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Republican Temporary President and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Senator Jeff Klein all sent nearly identical letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo calling for installation of the cameras.

“Motorists know that there will never be a sufficient number of police officers to catch everyone who violates the traffic laws,” Kelly wrote in a letter to Cuomo, “but the presence of speed cameras can create a strong deterrent effect, serving to reduce speeding and the collision and physical injury that it causes.”

Opponents of speed cameras point to the holes they create in law enforcement such as being able to tell if a driver is drunk, if a driver is unlicensed or if a motorist is carrying weapons while fleeing a crime scene.

Speed enforcement cameras are used in more than 120 cities across the country, but in some instances they’ve prompted lawsuits and efforts by state legislatures to ban them.

The City of Baltimore recently moved to replace its entire network of speed enforcement cameras after an investigation found numerous errors in their speed readings.

A 2011 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety credited speed enforcement cameras with reducing fatal crashes by 24% in 14 large cities where they were used.

Here is a full breakdown of the tickets issued last year, courtesy of the Daily News via the NYPD:

Top five speeding ticket precincts

94th Precinct (Greenpoint) – 555

61st Precinct (Sheepshead Bay) – 198

62nd Precinct (Bensonhurst) – 182

79th Precinct (Bed-Stuy) – 180

60th Precinct (Coney Island) – 173

Bottom five speeding ticket precincts

83rd Precinct (Bushwick) – 8

67th Precinct (East Flatbush) – 45

88th Precinct (Clinton Hill/Fort Greene) — 46

84th Precinct (Brooklyn Heights) — 48

68th Precinct (Bay Ridge) – 63

Top Brooklyn tickets

Cell phone – 43,920

Safety belt – 37,010

Disobey sign – 29,889

Tinted windows -28,815

Uninsured – 18,954

Brake lights – 9,981

Speeding – 2,873*

(Excluding the 13,535 tickets issued by Highway officers covering the borough and parts of Queens)

In lieu of photos of the neighborhood’s loudest dogs, we bring you Biggie the Harlequin Great Dane, the neighborhood’s dreamiest dog. Photo courtesy of Albert Dashevky.

There is a dog that lives across the street from my apartment building. I can’t see this dog, and I have no idea what it looks like, and despite this, the dog and I have a very intimate relationship. Every time a truck rumbles by, or a police siren wails, or thunder crashes, this invisible dog barks incessantly for the next 45 minutes. In the back of mind I always wondered if this was the worst dog in existence, but now I know that he is not.

The honor for loudest dogs in the city belongs to two dogs living in Marine Park. The 9-year-old German Shepard Maxwell, and his next door neighbor Buddy, a five year old Beauceron, have racked up close to 20 complaints in recent years. The owners of the dogs have both received warning letters from the Department of Environmental Protection.

“I think its ridiculous,” barked Maxwell’s owner Joseph Butrico, to DNAInfo. “They have tickets for everything. They just make it up as they go along.”

“When someone invades their space, they are gonna bark,” said Buddy’s owner Ann Winters, equally strident in defense of her noisy pooch.

In case you are wondering if Maxwell and Buddy were both the source of each other’s maniacal barking, being that they share a fence, it couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Ann.

“[They] see each other through a part of the fence, and they kiss each other,” she said.

Obviously these two dogs have formed a mutual friendship based on driving their neighbors crazy.

Put this one down as one of the dumbest tickets ever.

According to this video, an SUV parked on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Avenue V was pushed into the crosswalk after a motorist slammed into the car behind it. The owner of the SUV was promptly issued a ticket for “blocking the crosswalk,” and after pleading his case, was told it was “too late” because the ticket was already written.

“If you saw an accident like this, wouldn’t you think something had to happen to this car, for it to be up on the sidewalk and almost smashed into a pole,” the vehicle’s owner says in the video. “COME ON! A little common sense!”

The owner of the car tried to explain the situation to the officer, only to be told it was “too late” because the ticket had already been written.

If you are one of the owners in the video, or know them, please put them in touch with Sheepsehad Bites. We’d just love to follow how this drama plays out in court.

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