BAY RIDGE – Yesterday in response to the latest crash that landed a bicyclist in critical care on Bay Ridge Boulevard, Bay Ridge Council Member Justin Brannan took to Twitter, urging drivers to slow down and blaming DOT for not doing enough to calm intersections near churches, schools and libraries. Sentiments seconded by the senate hopefuls Ross Barkan and Andrew Gounardes.
In the meantime Gounardes is also promoting a community-wide crowdfunding campaign to purchase ‘Drive Like Your Kids Live Here’ lawn and window signs.
Gounardes’ proposals include:
- fighting for speed cameras in every school zone;
- accelerating the road redesign initiated under the city’s Vision Zero plan;
- protecting Brooklyn’s most vulnerable citizens with better ramps and access;
- suspending the licenses of dangerous drivers;
- increasing traffic enforcement;
- requiring continued drivers’ education training and
- creating a “Safe Routes to Parks” program.
“This platform is the culmination of years of hard work and community involvement,” Gounardes said. “Taken together, these steps will go a long way to helping us make our streets safe for all pedestrians. But the single biggest change that we can take doesn’t require any government funding, new laws or increased enforcement: it just requires all of us who drive to be a little smarter and a little safer when we get behind the wheel.”
Read on for more details from Andrew Gounardes:
“Last year, 57 Brooklyn families lost loved ones to traffic crashes in Brooklyn, more than any other borough. While the rest of the City has seen pedestrian deaths decline, Brooklyn fatalities in 2017 were up nearly 12 percent. In March of this year, two toddlers were killed and a pregnant mother was badly injured when a driver (whose car had received eight tickets for speeding through school zones and blowing red lights) sped through a Park Slope crosswalk. Brooklyn is first in many things, but pedestrian deaths should not be one them. Parents, seniors and pedestrians of all ages should not have to live in fear of crossing the street in their own neighborhood.
In 2014, Mayor de Blasio introduced Vision Zero, a plan to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities across the City. Part of that plan involved targeting our most dangerous intersections and corridors for redesign so that cars, pedestrians, and cyclists can all travel safely and efficiently. I recently inspected all 35 of these “priority” locations in our district (places where multiple pedestrians have been injured or killed) to get a first-hand look at their conditions. Unfortunately, much of the work that was slated has not been done. Transportation Alternatives estimates that if road redesign continues at its current speed, it will take 50 years before all dangerous roads in New York City are redesigned. This is unacceptable. We simply cannot wait while people’s lives are on the line. Rather than reacting every time an injury or fatality occurs, we need to be proactive.
As a former member of the Pedestrian Safety subcommittee of Community Board 10 and an active member of Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everyone Safe (B.R.A.K.E.S.), I have long been focused on ways to help keep our streets safe for all. I have put pressure on government officials to increase the number of life-saving speed cameras in our community, and recently, after touring all of the Vision Zero priority zones in our district, I organized a community forum to improve pedestrian protections in our neighborhood.
By listening to the community, I gained a deep understanding of how much work we need to do to fix our pedestrian safety issues, and I identified a number of strategies we can implement to better protect our residents. My vision to improve pedestrian safety includes:
Fighting for speed cameras in every school zone, because speed cameras save lives. Speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic deaths, and in areas with speed cameras, speeding has declined by 63 percent … yet with 2,000 schools and 6,000 miles of street in New York City, Albany only allows the City to operate 140 speed cameras. I’ll change that.
Accelerating road redesign so that pedestrians and bike riders have safe spaces to walk and ride. By forcefully advocating DOT to speed up the Vision Zero plan, I will make sure our neighborhood installs protective features at our most high-risk corridors and intersections.
Protecting our most vulnerable citizens by expediting pedestrian ramp construction. Raised curbs and broken sidewalk ramps put seniors and people with mobility issues at risk, and they limit the number of accessible pathways. It’s been 28 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. I’ll make sure New York honors it.
Holding dangerous drivers accountable by suspending licenses for dangerous drivers with multiple violations so they can’t get back behind the wheel.
Increasing traffic enforcement so that dangerous drivers are held accountable. Unpredictable driving behavior such as speeding, running red lights, pulling illegal U-turns, and double parking puts pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers at risk.
Requiring driving refreshers or defensive driving courses with every license renewal. By making these courses mandatory (they’re currently optional), we can ensure that drivers stay educated — and safe — throughout their lives behind the wheel.
Creating a “Safe Routes to Parks” program. No one should stay away from parks because of pedestrian safety concerns. I’ll work to enhance safety features on all roadways abutting parks so that people can get to and from them safely.”