Advocates rally in Bay Ridge for safer streets

A week after 10-year-old Jobe Kan was struck by a car and badly injured, street safety activists convened in Bay Ridge at the scene of the accident, 84th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, to make the case for enhanced pedestrian protections on city streets.

Elected officials joined representatives of Families for Safe Streets, Bay Ridge Advocates Keeping Everyone Safe (BRAKES) and Transportation Alternatives on Sunday, May 6 at the South Brooklyn Safe Streets Rally, during which attendees called upon Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State legislature to extend and expand the city’s speed safety cameras authorization, while also demanding that municipal leaders fast-track the implementation of street redesign projects on the city’s most deadly corridors.

Maureen Landers, of BRAKES — whose son sustained a broken leg after a car struck him and who was injured herself by a speeding motorist in 2009 — contended that the expansion of the speed camera program was “overdue. I hope that Albany can deliver on the cameras. However, I am concerned that the numbers of speed cameras wouldn’t be enough to cover all schools. I think there’s inequity and inequality. Every child deserves coverage and protection. I’m shocked we’re playing politics with kids’ lives.”

Speeding is common in the neighborhood, she said. On her block, which is between Colonial Road and Narrows Avenue, Landers told this paper, “Maybe one out of 10 cars goes the speed limit. They’re not commercial avenues so people drive very fast down both those roads.” In contrast, on Shore Road, near Fort Hamilton High School, where there are speed cameras, drivers slow down, she said. “They slow down for a few blocks them pick up speed. I think drivers behavior needs to change and enforcement is critical.”

Nor is the problem confined to Bay Ridge. A friend of hers, who lives in Dyker Heights, “Is astounded how fast people drive down 10th Avenue,” Landers said. “She can’t get in and out of her driveway because she’s terrified of the speed at which cars are traveling.”

Elected officials concurred.

“The most recent incident should serve as a reminder that we must do everything in our power to prioritize pedestrian safety,” added Councilmember Justin Brannan in a statement. “Hopefully the State Senate will finally pass the bill to authorize more speed cameras near schools, the NYPD will prioritize traffic enforcement instead of just parking ticket enforcement and, finally, all drivers will realize that they must slow down and drive with more caution.”

“As the first legislator in the country to introduce a bill to ban talking on a cell phone while driving, I have been a long-time advocate for safer streets and have introduced a number of safe driving bills,” added Assemblymember Felix Ortiz via Twitter. “The operation of a motor vehicle is the handling of a deadly weapon and reckless driving cannot be tolerated. Our roadways and traffic devices should be designed with pedestrian safety in mind.”

“I am glad to have stood alongside Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and BRAKES to announce Senator Golden’s support of legislation that will double the number of speed cameras in New York City,” said John Quaglione, a spokesperson for State Senator Marty Golden. “More speed cameras are a step in the right direction, and have worked to calm traffic on streets such as near Fort Hamilton High School. Additionally, as drivers, we must better adhere to speed limit restrictions as outlined in the mayor’s Vision Zero program, and as pedestrians, we must pay more attention when crossing the street.”
Despite the short notice, the turnout for the rally was “great,” said Dulcie Canton, Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn organizer, “which goes to show you many New Yorkers are concerned. We need action now. The city’s working to eliminate pedestrian, cyclist, even motorist deaths by 2020. But, it’s 2018 and we’ve seen five children either killed or critically injured.”

Expanding “the speed safety camera program here at schools in New York City is a common sense measure that has been stalled by obstructionists for years,” Canton continued. “Something needs to change.”

According to Families for Safe Streets, “Where [speed safety cameras have] been implemented, they’ve reduced speeding by over 60 percent, and reduced injuries to pedestrians by over 20 percent.”

As for Jobe, his father Reggie says his condition has improved.

“Jobe’s condition is great,” he told this paper. “He is home healing, but he can’t chew or open his mouth for four to six weeks.”


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