Speeding drivers have area residents on high alert.
Denise Cangemi, a stay-at-home mom with an eight-year-old daughter who calls 10th Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets home, contends that the driving near her house has become a danger for her and her family.
“If those lights are green, 10th Avenue becomes a raceway,” Cangemi said at a recent meeting of the 68th Precinct Community Council. “I’m pulling my daughter onto the curb to avoid traffic.”
Cangemi also contended that despite the proximity of schools such as P.S. 127 and P.S. 204, there are few signs announcing the presence of children, signalling to drivers the need to slow down.
“As a parent, I’m horrified and completely concerned when I leave my house, both for a walk and when I must drive,” Cangemi explained. “Every day when I try to exit or enter my driveway, I’m more often than not faced with aggressive situations.”
Cangemi attended the community council meeting with other members of BRAKES, Bay Ridge Advocates Keeping Everyone Safe, formed in 2009 in the wake of a series of accidents on local streets in which pedestrians were hit by vehicles whose drivers were going too fast or not paying attention.
And, they made it clear that 10th Avenue is hardly an exception when it comes to pedestrian safety.
On 72nd Street between Narrows Avenue and Colonial Road, for example, one woman complained about a failure to yield on multiple occasions, while another pinpointed the area around P.S. 185 as an area of concern during pickup and dropoff Monday through Friday. This resident pointed to double parking and aggressive driving by those navigating the area as causes of concern.
“It is clear that we have excessive bad driver behavior in our neighborhood. Drivers regularly speed, obstruct intersections, and make illegal turns. At the same time they rarely yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.” Maureen Landers, a BRAKES activist whose son sustained a broken leg after a car struck him and who was injured herself by a speeding motorist in 2009, told this paper. “You cannot walk along any avenue in Bay Ridge without coming across a vehicle turning into the crosswalk as you, as a pedestrian, are crossing. It is rampant, it is not enforced, it is dangerous, disrespectful and all around a huge detraction from our otherwise beautiful community.”
BRAKES recently advocated for expanded speed camera legislation, which the Republican-led State Senate declined to consider last month before ending its session. Without legislation renewing the program, not only will it not expand, but existing speed cameras in school zones will be rendered inactive.
But, that’s not the only thing that activists want. Cangemi suggested also, “More enforcement and digital signs which read: ‘Speed Limit and Your Speed.’”
To that end, the group has been working to publicize accidents in which pedestrians and cyclists have been injured by vehicles, as well as bringing pressure to bear on elected officials, law enforcement and community leaders to, as Cangemi says, “address this situation.”
When contacted for comment, Councilmember Justin Brannan pointed to the need for things like speed cameras.
“While the New York State Senate failed us all when it came to life saving school safety speed cameras, there is something every driver can do on their own: slow down,” he told this paper. “Speeding and reckless driving in residential neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights is just not acceptable. Fixing this problem requires a mix of more enforcement, better street design, and more tools like speed cameras and ultimately drivers taking responsibility for what they do when they get behind the wheel.”
“My office regularly receives complaints about cars dangerously speeding on streets throughout my district such as on 86th Street and along Shore Road,” added state Senator Marty Golden. “ For the safety of themselves and all pedestrians, these reckless drivers must slow down and obey the speed limit on our local streets. That is why I continue to support an increase in the number of speed cameras in an effort to calm traffic and save lives.”
Cangemi said she sees the dawn of a new era in which people are beginning to take action against dangerous drivers.
“It is evident that the residents of Bay Ridge have had enough of reckless driving and are ready for change,” she told this paper.