Archive for the tag 'traffic safety'

Biking on Flatbush
The NYPD has announced a two-week bicycle safety enforcement initiative called Operation Safe Cycle, which begins today, Wednesday, August 13 and continues through Tuesday, August 26.

They say they’ll be targeting cyclists who fail to stop at red lights, disobey traffic signals or signs, ride the wrong direction against traffic, ride on the sidewalk, and fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

But it’s not just cyclists — the NYPD says they’re also focus on motorists who obstruct bike lanes.

“The NYPD asks all persons bicycling and driving in the city to make safety a priority,” they said in a release. “The NYPD is committed to providing a safe environment for all New Yorkers.”

It seems that as the city continues to work on Vision Zero ideas, the NYPD will keep rolling out stings that focus on one aspect that makes traveling the streets in this city dangerous — they’ve already focused on texting and driving, speeding, and other hazardous driving behaviors.

If you have some experience with Operation Safe Cycle in the neighborhood, let us know in the comments.

Avenue Z between E. 7 St and Coney Island Avenue (Source

Source: Allan Shweky

The New York City Department of Transportation on Friday announced 14 new “arterial slow zones,” major corridors that will see speed limits slashed by five miles per hour as part of the Vision Zero initiative. Coney Island Avenue and Flatbush Avenue are both on the list, with implementation to begin this fall.

The first slow zones were implemented yesterday on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx and 7th Avenue in Manhattan, the first phase of the program. The speed limits will be lowered to 25 miles per hour from 30, with new “distinctive” signs with blue-and-white coloring and the name of the corridor to complement the DOT’s existing Neighborhood Slow Zone program. Alongside the signage, the streets will see increased police enforcement and temporary lighted speed boards.

The entirety of Coney Island Avenue will be converted to a slow zone in September, with Flatbush Avenue from Concord Street to Hendrickson Place (near the Belt Parkway) to follow in October.

The program is part of the Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities citywide. Ultimately the agency will create a total of 25 arterial slow zones, according to the Vision Zero website.

Arterial roadways make up only 15 percent of the total road system but account for 60 percent of the fatalities, according to the DOT. These 14 corridors make up only 65 miles of roadway, but account for 83 fatalities.

Coney Island Avenue is 5.5 miles long, and accounted for six fatalities between 2008 and 2012, while Flatbush Avenue is 7.1 miles long and accounts for 11 fatalities.

The speed reduction required approval from Albany, which it received in June. You can find the list of all 14 arterial slow zones here.

Local pols are praising the measure, saying it will help reduce deaths at some of their district’s busiest intersections.

“Coney Island Avenue has long been a dangerous thoroughfare for seniors and others attempting to cross with a constant flow of traffic whizzing by. I’m pleased that the city is implementing these forward-thinking measures that will succeed in calming traffic and, most important, saving lives,” said Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, in a DOT press release.

“Improving safety on our streets benefits all New Yorkers, and anyone who has crossed Coney Island Avenue knows how hectic and dangerous it can be. I am very pleased that pedestrian safety continues to be a priority for our city and that one of southern Brooklyn’s busiest streets is included in this plan,” said Councilman Mark Treyger in the same press release.

“This second phase of Vision Zero being implemented along Coney Island Avenue is an indication that my voice, in advocating for traffic calming measures, was heard,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, also in the press release. “I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for improving the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists throughout my district.”

Source: NYCIBO

Source: NYCIBO

While the news that New York City will expand speed camera enforcement across the five boroughs was met with conspiratorial sneering from local drivers, revenue data suggests that the overall amount of funds collected for traffic fines has declined every year for the past four years despite the expansion of camera-enforcement programs.

That’s not to say there’s not money being made: the city pulled in more than $55 million in fiscal year 2014 (which ended on June 30), and 75 percent of that was from camera-based enforcement. The city budget for 2015 already presumes a jump to $62 million in revenue, with an even larger percentage coming from camera enforcement.

The New York City Independent Budget Office released a new infographic yesterday that charts the amount of revenue collected from traffic fines from 1999 to the present, and also shows the share of those collections that came via police-issued violations, red-light cameras, bus-lane cameras and the newest enforcement tool: speed cameras.

Some of the takeaways?

  • The proportion of revenue generated by cameras has grown from just 38 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2014.
  • The amount of revenue in 2014 is nearly double that collected in 1999. (Adjusted for inflation, the jump is less stark; the increase is just under $13 million.)
  • Since 2004, actual revenue from police-issued traffic violations has been on a steady decline, marginally offsetting some of the increases from camera enforcement.
  • Red-light camera revenues are the lowest they’ve been since 2007, the year before a massive expansion of the program, suggesting that camera enforcement won’t drive revenues forever.

There are two big spikes in the graph, one in 2008 and another in 2011.

The first coincided with an increase in the number of red light cameras installed around the city. After the increase, there’s a drop again. That’s probably because once drivers figure out where the cameras are, they make sure to abide by the law.

The 2011 spike came as a result of a ruling that unpaid red light summonses can count towards the threshold needed for the city to tow your car for unpaid tickets. Delinquent motorists who saw their cars impounded had to pay back those fines that year to reclaim their vehicles.

The two newest forms of camera revenue are also seeing pretty rapid growth as drivers have yet to adjust to them. Bus-lane cameras were introduced in 2011 as part of the Select Bus Service program. As that program has steadily expanded across the five boroughs, so has the number of cameras, and thus the number of violations.

Speed cameras were introduced in early 2014, with just 20 in school zones around the city. That led to $2.1 million in fines collected. But the program has been approved for massive expansion, with 120 new cameras on the way.

The city is projecting it will put $7.6 million in city coffers, but if the historical spikes from the expansion of red light cameras are any indication, it’ll probably rake in more than that before falling off over a few years.

So is it about money? It’s anybody’s guess. There’s definitely a historical increase in revenues collected but it’s not as staggering as one would think, given the massive expansion of these programs. And the data here suggests the gains appear short-lived as drivers learn to follow the rules of the road.

Here’s the above chart in an interactive format. Hover over each of the bars to see how much actual revenue was received for each method:

Screenshot of the interactive Vision Zero map.

Screenshot of the interactive Vision Zero map.

When we told you last month about the interactive Vision Zero map the Department of Transportation launched, there were just a few user-created bubbles identifying local traffic safety issues in our area. There’s a bunch more now, which we’ll take full credit for, but our neighborhood still pales in comparison to the contributions of northern Brooklyn neighborhoods and Bay Ridge.

C’mon, guys. Are we really going to let Bay Ridge and Fort Greene hog all that DOT attention? No way!

Fortunately, there’s still some time to share our complaints. Neighbors have until July 31 to add intersection-specific concerns.

Overall, the map has received more than 7,500 tips from around the five boroughs. The information will be used for traffic planning to ease congestion and make streets safer for everybody – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, alike. From a DOT statement:

Input is vital, especially from those familiar with local traffic conditions and people’s behavior. The comments will be used to shape robust borough-specific traffic safety plans that will guide future work as part of Mayor de Blasio’s goal to eliminate traffic fatalities.

To add a complaint to the map, click this link, zoom in to the area, and click on an intersection as identified by white bubbles.  The map will then split to a street view, and in the bottom left there’s a button that says “Share an issue.” Click that, and fill out the form that pops up.

That’s it! The tool lets you share concerns about a host of issues, from speeding and red-light running, to bad biker behavior, and intersections where it just takes too darn long to cross the street.

Remember, as in all things city government-related, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And we like grease. So squeak away.

Source: formulanone/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio won a victory in Albany early this morning when both houses of the state legislature gave the green light to lowering the New York City speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

After concerns earlier this week that Senate Republicans could prevent the bill from coming to a vote, it passed overwhelmingly in both houses and has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

The measure is a key item of de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which seeks to make streets safer and eliminate traffic deaths citywide. Several of the initiative’s proposals require approval from state lawmakers, including speed limits and the installation of speed cameras.

The idea was first floated by the mayor earlier this year, but received a tepid response from lawmakers. It became increasingly politicized, with Senate Republicans threatening to block it from coming to a vote as retribution for de Blasio’s calls for returning that legislative body to Democratic control. Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican representing Staten Island, suggested as recently as yesterday afternoon that he would oppose the measure if it did not fold in his proposal to require stop signs be installed around all city schools.

Ultimately, de Blasio and traffic safety advocates won out in a down-to-the-wire vote during the season’s final legislative session in the capital. The bill was passed 106-13 by the Assembly in a late night session, while the Senate took it up early in the morning, passing it 58-2.

An earlier version of the bill called for the speed limit to be reduced to 20 miles per hour, but was quickly squashed by legislative leaders.

Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won't you give it some company?

Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won’t you give it some company?

Back in April, the city launched an interactive Vision Zero map for neighbors to get involved with making street conditions safer. The map allows you to pinpoint problematic roads and intersections, reporting a range of conditions including double parking, frequent speeding, irresponsible cycling or even crosswalk timers that take too darn long.

Reader Daniil S. put it back on our radar this week, causing us to note that, well, no one in Southern Brooklyn appears to be paying attention. Dots cover the map in Manhattan and northern Brooklyn, but scrawl down to below Avenue H and there’s hardly a single report.

That’s cause for concern, because its the frequent cry of both drivers and pedestrians in Southern Brooklyn that the Department of Transportation goes ahead and implements plans from the top down, implementing ideas that may work well for midtown Manhattan but not so much for quiet, residential and car-dependent neighborhoods. And, yet, when given the opportunity to map out where the real problems are… nothing?

Daniil writes, “If you can encourage everyone on the blog to tag our intersections and we outnumber the other neighborhoods in the city in complaint count, it might just make our streets a bit safer.” 

Indeed. Let’s give that a try. Find the map here.

polly

Deutsch with Trottenberg, Palmieri and other DOT representatives on Coney Island Avenue.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stood at the base of the Coney Island Avenue overpass at Guider Avenue last Tuesday, as cars whizzed around her, made illegal turns, crossed into oncoming traffic and failed to get out of the way of emergency response vehicles. She stood there for approximately 20 minutes, visibly perplexed at the apparent lawlessness of one of Southern Brooklyn’s most convoluted intersections.

Trottenberg was there at the request of Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, alongside Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri and a handful of aides for each. She had already toured other problem spots in Manhattan Beach and said the agency would consider changes requested by the community, but the scene at this intersection – where Coney Island Avenue meets Guider Avenue, Banner Avenue, a service road and a Belt Parkway entrance ramp – prompted a more firm commitment.

“This one certainly,” said Trottenberg. “We have to do some major work here. It’s terrible.”

Within days, the commissioner had ordered a traffic study of the intersection, and Deutsch’s office confirmed that traffic engineers will visit the site to assess new traffic safety measures, including turn signals and medians.

Until more permanent changes are implemented, Deutsch worked with the agency and the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau and he 60th Precinct to bring traffic agents to the intersection. The agents deployed for the first time today, and will be there during peak hours, Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites this morning.

Traffic agents were at the intersection today. (Source: Deutsch's office)

Traffic agents were at the intersection today. (Source: Deutsch’s office)

The councilman and the DOT hope the measures will go a long way to reducing traffic accidents at the location. Since 2014 began, there have been 11 collisions so far, including two pedestrians struck by vehicles and three occupant injuries, according to data obtained from the DOT by Deutsch’s office.

It’s not the first time local officials have raised issue with the intersection, or the DOT’s first stab at fixing it.

Community Board 15 has been a long-time advocate for improvements to the area, and was baffled in 2009 when the agency proposed a plan to reconfigure it that illustrated an utter lack of familiarity with the area.

A year later, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner also took the agency to task for the same plan. Both requested left-turn signals to restore order, but received a cold response from the former commissioner.

In the end of May 2012, the agency surprised locals by installing “No left turn” signs on southbound Coney Island Avenue. We stood there days later, and filmed car after car dangerously ignoring it in the span of just one minute.

As for the other sites that Trottenberg toured during her visit last week, the agency is studying some of the proposals, including turning Oriental Boulevard’s flashing yellow light at Ocean Avenue into a full-fledged traffic signal. Deutsch said he will work with the Parks Department to determine the feasibility of moving the Oriental Boulevard bike lane to the sidewalk on Shore Boulevard. A traffic study is also being ordered for Coney Island Avenue and Avenue O.

“I think it’s great that they came down here,” said Deutsch. “We had all three commissioners here to collaborate, and this is just the beginning.”

Ocean Parkway (Source: AMRosario/Flickr)

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Sign-onara, DOT: The state Department of Transportation was sent back to the drawing boards by Community Board 15 last night after delivering a presentation on Ocean Parkway safety improvements that left boardmembers underwhelmed.

Representatives from the agency came before Community Board 15 to share a draft report for improving pedestrian safety along the high-speed corridor. Approximately a year in the making, the agency began working with their city counterparts after being criticized following the June 2013 death of a senior at Church Avenue and Ocean Parkway, according to Streetsblog.

The first phase of the project moved quickly to address concerns, adding crosswalk timers, pedestrian islands and other improvements along the northern section. The state then turned its eyes to the south, extending through all of Community Board 15′s section.

But the proposals on display last night were largely a collection of potential ideas, without pegging which would be deployed where.

Boardmembers also shared concerns that the studies it is based on were examining the wrong things; main roads instead of the service roads, for example.

“Youre missing the points where the accidents occur. I think your evaluation sucks, to be honest with you,” said boardmember Ira Tepper. (Tepper later apologized to the DOT rep for his wording, but stood by his sentiment.)

Ultimately, boardmembers were left wanting more before signing off on the project.

“You’ve definitely got to refine your presentation” said Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “What I think is you should come back and tell us, on Avenue P what are you planning, on Kings Highway, Avenue V, every street that is in our district. Bring us what you plan to do on every intersection, and then we can tell you what we think.”

The criticism was received warmly by DOT rep Charles O’Shea, who said he’d do just that.

“We knew the plan was rough. We know there’s a lot more to do,” said O’Shea. “But the whole reason we’re here is to make Ocean Parkway safer. We’re not going to impose any solutions on the community.”

Zoning items:

  • 3743-3761 Nostrand Avenue - The Board agreed to approve an application to extend the term of the special permit on a gas station and mechanic, which has been operating with a waiver in one form or another since 1959. The vote was 26-to-2.
  • 148 Norfolk Street - In 2012, the Board approved an application to allow this homeowner to add extra square footage to their home. After Sandy rolled through and new regulations were put into effect by Department of Buildings, the agency told them to take their plans back to the drawing board, sealing off the basement and elevating the house four feet. The new application does just that, and takes the space they had hoped to use in the now-sealed-off cellar and moves it to the attic, meaning a larger house, but with the same amount of livable space as originally planned. The Board approved the application in a 28-to-1 vote.

Other information:

  • On unveiling the slate of executive boardmembers and officers, the nominating committee kicked off a small tizzy as several members with dismal attendance records have been nominated to reappointment in leadership positions. Activist Ed Jaworski and boardmember Joseph Dorinson spoke against their reappointments. Scavo, the chairperson, noted that the Board cannot control who is appointed to the Board, as that is done by the councilmembers and borough president. Dorinson maintained that it was still inappropriate to nominate them for leadership positions. “To do so is an insult to the intelligence of the community,” he said.
  • A representative from the Department of Consumer Affairs came to tout the Paid Sick Leave law which went into effect on April 1. The law requires employers of five or more employees to provide paid sick leave on an accrual basis. More information can be found here.
  • Sanna Ezri, director of the new Master Theater, formerly the Millenium Theater (1029 Brighton Beach Avenue), introduced herself to the Board and talked about the theater’s new offerings. There is also a new upscale restaurant in the building, and plans to open a Russian heritage museum.
  • A resident complained about Parks Enforcement Officers enforcing the law in Manhattan Beach over Memorial Day weekend, when they chased ice cream trucks out of the “No Standing” zone. “People in line were told to get away from the truck, myself included,” he said.
  • A representative for Councilman Chaim Deutsch invited the community to the pol’s “Participatory Governing” meeting tomorrow. Information is here.
  • Doreen Garson, for Senator Marty Golden, told the board that the annual Concerts in the Parks series will begin July 8. More information to come.
  • Garson also noted that the Office of Emergency Management has issued new evacuation maps and a related website.
  • A representative for Borough President Eric Adams said that notifications about Community Board appointments are “being mailed out as we speak.”
  • A representative for Councilman Mark Treyger’s office announced that their new district office at 2015 Stillwell Avenue is now open, and that the elected official will soon kick off the process for participatory budgeting.
  • There will be no Alternate Side Parking on June 4, in observance of Jewish holidays.
  • On June 1, Sheepshead Bay Road from East 15th Street to Emmons Avenue will be closed to traffic between noon and 5:00 p.m. for the Sheepshead Stroll, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Community Board 15, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office, Kings Bay Y, Empower Sheepshead and Sheepshead Bites, among others.

Source: tim caynes/Flickr

The New York Police Department kicked off a citywide crackdown on inattentive drivers today, and will be doling out tickets to drivers talking on cellphones, texting and failing to yield to pedestrians.

SILive.com reports:

The first day of the initiative begins [at 12:01 a.m.], Tuesday, and concludes after 24-hours.

Drivers can expect to see the same type of police presence on Friday, as the NYPD again launches its crackdown for another 24-hour period.

The intense NYPD ticketing measures comes on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to crack down on pedestrian deaths, known as “Vision Zero.”

NBC New York notes that extra patrols dedicated to busting such drivers are being dispatched across the city.

Why do they announce such things? We don’t know. In fact, nevermind this report. If you’re someone who texts and drives, keep on keepin’ on today and Friday, ’cause you deserve that ticket.

bedford

As our tipster Andrey G. wrote to us with the photo above, “Finally, a left turn signal on Bedford & Emmons – It’s finally here!”

A new left turn signal is the first of a few traffic safety improvements coming to Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue after years of complaints from residents that low visibility at the intersection frequently causes accidents.

The signal was installed some time in the last week. It was approved months ago, according to Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo.

The agency agreed to a traffic study at the intersection in 2012. Previous requests to get additional safety measures had been denied by the agency, but they finally reversed course after a spate of accidents that year – including one that left several people injured just a week after receiving the request from the Community Board.

Now that the signal is installed, the Department of Transportation will implement daylighting at the median. Daylighting involves eliminating one or two parking spaces from the edge of the intersection so that turning cars can better see oncoming traffic.

Scavo said the agency is likely just waiting for the weather to improve a bit before laying down the stripes and “no parking” signs.

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