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Brooklynites workshop Vision Zero

“What is Vision Zero?” posed Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives at a hands-on Vision Zero public workshop held on Thursday, April 24 at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights. According to DOT, it’s a behavioral change and cultural shift the agency hopes will dramatically decrease the staggering number of traffic fatalities – significantly.

According to the DOT, on average there are 272 traffic-related fatalities each year in NYC and 57 percent of those are pedestrians.

“These are not accidents. No fatality on a New York City street is an accident,” stressed DOT representative Nick Carey as he led a round-table discussion between local residents, one of which was Community Board 10 Chair Brian Kieran.

“It was a more improved dialogue,” reported Kieran to the board at an April 28 meeting, sharing the recommendations he and Traffic and Transportation Chair Doris Cruz made at the workshop – including, but not limited to an increase in the number of traffic and crossing guards, stricter enforcement on speeding and raised crosswalks.

“65th Street along the Gowanus Expressway to Bensonhurst,” answered Kieran confidently when Carey asked, “What intersections make you feel unsafe?”

Kieran attributed the area’s danger to its type of traffic, poor signal frequency and high rate of double parking.

“In general, I think you definitely have to get the manpower there,” said Kieran, echoed by an officer from the 68th Precinct who noted 65th Street and Sixth Avenue as a major hotspot for the precinct’s traffic control team.

Additionally, the DOT asked what residents thought the greatest threat to pedestrians was. Top answers included speeding and, sometimes, themselves.

“People are always in a hurry; it’s the city,” said Kieran.

“Inattention is a big issue,” echoed the 68th Precinct officer.

According to Carey, there are four main ways that DOT tackles tough streets – arterial slow zones, neighborhood slow zones, and intersection redesign and corridor projects – all moderations the department will implement as part of Vision Zero’s allotted 50 projects a year.

A second Brooklyn workshop took place on Tuesday, April 29 at Brooklyn College – riding on the heels of what many are calling Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest initiative.

“Making Vision Zero a reality means more than just engineering, education and enforcement: it’s a collaborative effort that will require every New Yorker to play their part,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “These workshops are an open call for all citizens looking to shape the future of their neighborhoods. Building on a city’s worth of local insight, they will lay the groundwork for streets that work better for everyone.”

After table sessions, residents and community activists were invited to place stickers on problem areas in each Brooklyn neighborhood.

“They seemed very receptive,” said Kieran, joining the rest of the borough in hoping Vision Zero – and the DOT – gets it done.

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