In the space of a single day, Mon., Jan. 14, there were 17 car crashes within the confines of the 68th Precinct, encompassing Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Given a statistic like that, not surprisingly, residents in the area said they’re growing increasingly concerned over the number of car crashes taking place on their streets, and a local lawmaker said he shares their anxiety.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, said he has asked the NYPD and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to “send in the cavalry” to crack down on reckless drivers and to determine just why the streets in his district are the scene of numerous vehicular accidents.
“It is unacceptable to have that many crashes in one day,” said Brannan, who added that he plans to hold a town hall at some point in the near future to focus on public safety “ I will not wait for someone to be killed to get something done.
“Enough is enough,” he told this newspaper on Tuesday.
Despite the success of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, drivers and pedestrians still face danger when crossing the street, residents said.
Residents reported seeing crashes ranging from simple fender-benders to accidents in which ambulances had to be called to treat victims.
One resident, Jennifer Kruger, wrote in a widely shared Facebook post that she personally knew of three separate car crashes that took place within a 10-hour span.
“This morning as I drove my son to school a car accident happened directly in front of me at 74th and 11th. A truck blew through a stop sign and collided with a car. Two hours ago a middle schooler was hit by a car at the corner of 78th and Colonial. He was taken away in an ambulance. He had just gotten off the bus from school,” Kruger wrote. “Just now, my own middle-schooler called to tell me he had just gotten off the bus and was walking home. I told him to be insanely careful, because there had already been two accidents in intersections today and he needed to watch out for crazy drivers. Three minutes later he walked into our house, and through the open door I heard a crash.”
Kruger ended her Facebook post with advice to drivers to slow down behind the wheel, put down their cell phones and stop driving recklessly.
Brannan pointed to speeding drivers as a big reason for crashes.
“From Bay Ridge to Bensonhurst, every day we see cars blowing through stop signs, SUVs speeding down residential streets near schools and people just driving way too fast overall,” Brannan said. “If you are a few minutes late to move your car on alternate side parking day, a parking ticket is all but guaranteed, yet I can’t recall the last time I saw someone getting a ticket for driving like a lunatic down a sleepy residential street where kids play, or the last time somebody got pulled over and summonsed for racing by a school during morning drop-off.”
Community Board 10 officials were so concerned about the number of 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.
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.
It’s not clear if the problem stems strictly from reckless drivers or if infrastructure changes, like changing the timing of traffic lights, are needed.
“It’s probably a combination of both,” Beckmann said. “But topping the list are drivers being careless.”