DYKER HEIGHTS – Students joyfully poured out of IS 201 in Dyker Heights Wednesday afternoon, heading home after another day of school. But many of them would need to be careful.
The intersection at 11 Avenue and 81st Street is a busy one, with many motorists using 81st Street to cut across the nearby Gowanus Expressway – it has less traffic than nearby thoroughfares. Neighbors say they see cars speeding along both streets regularly with only the stop signs on 81st Street to slow them down. The intersection is at the top of a hill, making it difficult to see approaching vehicles.
“There’s no light, there’s no stop sign on 11th avenue, and there’s no crossing guard,” Linda Graffagnino, who lives on 81st Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, told Bklyner. “We have like a blind hill over there coming up from 11th Avenue and 82nd Street, so you kind of can’t see if there’s cars coming until the car’s like practically right on top of you.”
“These kids, they can’t make it across the street, let alone getting to school. It’s so dangerous,” she added.
Graffagnino was concerned enough to write an email to Community Board 10 requesting action.
In a response, District Manager Josephine Beckmann said the Community Board had requested a traffic study of that intersection in 2015, that was denied, and also had a pending 2017 request for a speed bump study. She also presented a letter the Board sent to New York City Department of Transportation Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray and the NYPD’s 68th Precinct in September reiterating residents’ concerns and requesting a crossing guard for the intersection. Beckmann also told Bklyner that there is an active DOT study on whether to put a traffic light at the intersection.”Because of the incline and the terrain, visibility is difficult there, and I think it certainly warrants further study,” she said. “Hopefully the DOT study will take a look and come up with some recommendations for that location.”
The DOT confirmed both studies are underway and promised results by the end of the year.
“We have received requests for a signal and a speed hump at this location,” a DOT spokesperson told Bklyner. “We are conducting a traffic study regarding the possible traffic signal, and we expect to complete that study by the end of December. We expect to resolve the speed reducer request by next week.”
Standing in front of her house on 81st Street, Graffagnino said “we’ve had people coming down this block doing like 50 or 60 miles per hour, no joke,” and that lights at the two intersections could go a long way towards making the block safer. “My son’s eleven, he likes to ride his bike,” she said. “I’m just a little nerve-wracked about letting him ride his bike over here.”
Several of Graffagnino’s neighbors told Bklyner they agreed.
Veronica Lisi, who lives up the street from Graffagnino, said the intersection of 81st and 10th is even worse.”They don’t stop. They go through the stop signs. And if you’re trying to cross the street there, you got to be careful, because they don’t stop for people,” she said.
Lisi said she thought there should be lights at both intersections. She also suggested reversing the direction of traffic on the block, something Graffagnino also mentioned.
Other residents said they would just like to see motorists to follow the traffic laws.
“I’d rather people paid attention to the stop sign,” said one resident who preferred not to give her name. “I don’t want to see a light. I think we have too many lights in Brooklyn and people race to them, so I don’t think that would necessarily fix the issue.”
City Councilman Justin Brannan expressed support for the study.
“This corridor has been on our radar for quite a while,” he told Bklyner. “Whether it’s speed bumps, stop signs, traffic lights or more enforcement, all options to increase pedestrian safety must always be on the table. This is about saving lives and that can’t wait.”
State Senator Marty Golden did not respond to a request for comment.
A crash at that intersection last December resulted in the death of an elderly woman. Residents told Bklyner there have been several other recent crashes there as well. DOT statistics show 2 more injuries at 81st and 11th this year, with four more injuries in 2015. There have also been several injuries at the intersections of 11th Avenue with 80th Street and 82nd Street over the last few years, and another fatality at 11th and 82nd in 2011.
Residents would like to see something happen sooner rather than later.
“Everything takes forever,” Graffagnino said.
UPDATED: 10/26 to include Councilmember Brannan’s support for the study.