Guest op-ed: The fast and the furious

You would laugh, or perhaps cry, at just how many traffic lights, speed bumps, stop signs, slow zones and flashing beacons I’ve personally requested and had installed around the neighborhood over the past 10 years.

In my days as an aide to Councilmember Vincent Gentile, I learned how to see the neighborhood through the eyes of the many young families and seniors in our district. Through them, I learned so much and found so many ways to, among other things, make our neighborhood safer, cleaner and stronger.

When I got elected last fall, I decided I would seek to accomplish two main goals during my first few years in office: Make the 43rd District the cleanest and the safest in the city – and that includes pedestrian safety and keeping our streets safe for all to enjoy.

In order to accomplish this, we need more enforcement because, the truth is, all the stop signs, flashing lights and traffic rules in the world just do not matter without enforcement.

Like you, I see a lot of parking tickets being written but not much else. If you’re late getting back to your car at the Muni-Meter, you’ll get a ticket. If you’re a few minutes late to move your car on alternate side parking day, you’d better believe you’re getting a ticket.

Yet, I can’t recall the last time I saw someone get a ticket for driving like a lunatic down a sleepy side street where kids play at night. Or the last time somebody got pulled over and summonsed for racing by a school during a.m. drop-off.

We’ve had plenty of accidents and incidents over the years with injuries, several pedestrian fatalities (one is too many) and more close calls than I wish to remember. And after the horror that happened in Park Slope last month, something’s gotta give and quick. We cannot wait any longer.

For people who get behind the wheel of their automobile and think they are the only person on the planet who matters, there is unfortunately no known antidote. Common sense, courtesy and respect for human life are things that unfortunately cannot be legislated or enforced.

Some drivers need to realize that there are actually things in life that are more important than getting from one stoplight or stop sign to the next as quickly as humanly possible.

I got my license when I turned 18. To this day, I vividly remember pulling off an exit ramp from the Verrazano Bridge – I must not have come to a full stop at the stop sign and I got pulled over by a cop who wrote me a ticket.

To this day, more than 20 years later, I’ll still stop and wait an extra few seconds at that stop sign. That’s because enforcement works.

I recently met with the new 68th Precinct Captain Robert Conwell. Traffic safety was the very first thing I mentioned to him. I look forward to being a true partner with Captain Conwell in this endeavor and will do whatever it takes to make sure the 68 has the necessary resources for increased traffic enforcement.

For now, all options to increase pedestrian safety are on the table. As your councilmember, I am dedicated to improving the safety, mobility and livability of our streets so they can be shared and enjoyed by all. And I think it’s time we had a real, candid community conversation about pedestrian safety. This is about saving lives.

I want to hear from you. Stop by my office at 8018 Fifth Avenue or reach out by phone or email at 718-748-5200 or

Councilmember Justin Brannan represents the 43rd Council District.

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