With local traffic accidents on the rise in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, the community is now calling for increased enforcement in the form of school crossing guards.
Councilmember Justin Brannan on Jan. 25 penned a letter to New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill pushing for an increase in the number of school crossing guards assigned to the 68th Precinct, which encompasses both the Ridge and Dyker.
His request, Brannan told this paper, came on the heels of a number of calls from constituents, the letter itself sent just eight days after a total of 17 car accidents took place in 24 hours across the two neighborhoods on Jan. 14.
While requests for additional school crossing guards have certainly increased, Brannan argued, the number of those assigned to the 68 fell from 36 in Fiscal Year 2018 to 34 in Fiscal Year 2019.
“At the same time, requests for additional school crossing guards increased largely due to the growing school population and changes in pedestrian travel to some new elementary school buildings, Pre-K sites and large-scale additions [to] existing school buildings to accommodate severe overcrowding,” he wrote. “In fact, the schools within this portion of my Council District remain the most overcrowded in the City of New York.”
And he’s right.
Schools in District 20 – which encompasses Borough Park, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and the southern section of Sunset Park as well as the Fort Hamilton Army Base – have been notoriously overcrowded for years. Now, they’re at the top of the list.
“As you know, school crossing guards play an incredibly important role in the lives of children by helping them safely cross the street at key locations and there are several areas I feel warrant school crossing guard posts that cannot be accommodated to due lack of resources,” Brannan continued.
Among the schools he’s asked for coverage near: P.S. 264, P.S./I.S. 104, Our Lady of Angels Catholic Academy, P.S. 102, and more.
Specifically, the pol has asked that the following spots be granted their own school crossing guard: 88th Street at Fourth Avenue; 92nd Street at Fourth Avenue; Fourth Avenue at 74th Street; Third Avenue at 74th Street; 71st Street at Third Avenue; 82nd Street at Ridge Boulevard; Ovington Avenue at Seventh Avenue; 12th Avenue at Ovington Avenue; Bay Ridge Parkway at Seventh Avenue; 12th Avenue at 66th Street; 72nd Street at Fourth Avenue; Eighth Avenue at 65th Street; 63rd Street at Fort Hamilton Parkway; 65th Street at Fort Hamilton Parkway; 11th Avenue at 80th or 81st Street; 65th Street at 10th Avenue; Seventh Avenue at 65th Street; Fort Hamilton Parkway at 73rd Street and Bay Ridge Avenue at Fourth Avenue.
“I am asking all sites that qualify are assigned a crossing guard as soon as humanly possible,” Brannan plead.
Community Board 10 officials – who have, in the past, also called for an increase in school crossing guards in District 20 – were so concerned about the number of recent crashes that Chairperson Doris Cruz took the rare step of forming a special subcommittee to take a close look at the issue. The board represents the interests of the residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in dealing with city agencies.
The Subcommittee on Street Safety held its first meeting on Jan. 7 and will continue to work to keep streets safe, Cruz reiterated at the board’s general board meeting on Jan. 28.
Among the subcommittee’s duties will be to study “problematic intersections” to see if any action by the DOT, such as traffic signal adjustments or new signage, is warranted, Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said.
“We share the councilman’s concerns. We fully support his efforts. We are very concerned with street safety. Our accident numbers are high,” Beckmann told this newspaper earlier this month.
Additional reporting by Paula Katinas