Archive for the tag 'traffic safety'

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.

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: Assemblyman Weinstein's office

Source: Assemblyman Weinstein’s office

Following a hit and run in which a toddler and elderly woman were hospitalized on September 17, a crossing guard is now helping pedestrians get across the road safely at Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway,

For neighbors, the intersection has long been a nuisance. Heavy traffic, competing police jurisdictions, and a confusing road pattern – the two main avenues, two service roads, and a side street jutting off to the southeast – have frustrated drivers and pedestrians alike. Administrators at a nearby yeshiva pleaded with local leaders for help.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein announced that, beginning today, a crossing guard will be on duty Monday through Thursday during school arrival and dismissal times.

Here’s the press release from Weinstein’s office:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is proud to announce that, working closely with the New York Police Department, she successfully secured a new school crossing guard for student and pedestrian assistance at the intersection of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue.

Recently, local parents of children not eligible for bus service from their schools who walk to school reached out, citing the intersection as one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn.

Previously, the Assemblywoman’s petition for coverage at this junction was denied because the intersection is under the jurisdiction of no less than three NYPD Precincts. The Assemblywoman reached out to Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South who worked diligently to make this a reality.

“Persistence and hard work pays off,” said Joel Weisblum, Executive Director of Yeshiva Derech Hatorah, located at the intersection. “On behalf of the Yeshiva, and more importantly, the beautiful children of our Yeshiva, I would like to thank the Assemblywoman for assistance in getting us this much needed crossing guard.”

“I am extremely happy,” said local parent, Yael S. “We thank Assemblywoman Weinstein and the NYPD for all their efforts on behalf of our children. We now have peace of mind.”

The new guard is on Monday through Thursday from 7:15 to 9:15am, and in the afternoon, during school dismissals, from 2:30 to 5:00pm and Friday, when she is on duty from 10:30 to 1:30pm.

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.

Source: 24gotham/Flickr

The New York Police Department is cracking down on motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses with flashing lights, police sources told this outlet.

The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate pedestrian fatalities and was timed to begin on the first day of classes to protect returning students. The goal, say police, is to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement. The operation will last approximately six to eight weeks, beginning Thursday, September 4.

State law requires drivers to stop at least 20 feet away from a bus if it is has red lights flashing. Traffic must stop in both directions, even in front of a school and in school parking lots, and even if the motorist is on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Before a school bus stops to load or discharge students, bus drivers will usually flash yellow warning lights. Before the bus embarks again, the red lights will stop flashing or the bus driver or a traffic officer will tell you to proceed. Drivers should be cautious around buses; most bus-related deaths occur when children cross the street after being discharged, and motorists should look for children along the side of the road.

It’s a heavy penalty for those who violate the law, with fines as high as $1,000 and the possibility of imprisonment.

By Conviction Minimum
Fine
Maximum
Fine
Possible Imprisonment
First Conviction $250.00 $400.00 Up to 30 days
Second Conviction
(within 3 years)
$600.00 $750.00 Up to 180 days
Third or
Subsequent Convictions (within 3 years)
$750.00 $1,000.00 Up to 180 days

 

A similar crackdown, called Operation Safe Stop, occurred statewide in April 2014 at governor’s orders. An estimated 50,000 drivers illegally pass buses on New York state roads every day, according to a website created in conjunction with that initiative.

The NYPD has also put out the following flier to educate drivers on best practices for safely driving near school buses:

school-bus

Click to enlarge

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.

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.”

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