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Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights residents to sound off at traffic safety town hall

Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residents will get the chance to hear from top transportation officials what the city plans to do about the shockingly high number of car crashes taking place on local streets when a street safety town hall takes place on March 27.

New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has been invited by Councilmember Justin Brannan, the organizer of the town hall, to speak at the meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, March 27, at P.S. 264, 371 89th St., from at 6 p.m.to 8 p.m.

Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, once urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to “send in the cavalry” to address the troublingly high numbers of car crashes and pedestrian injuries in his district.

New York Police Department (NYPD) officials will be on hand at the town hall to talk about their recent enforcement efforts to crack down on dangerous drivers.

And residents will be asked to give their opinions on what the city should be doing.

“I am excited to host this town hall on traffic safety for many concerned residents,” Brannan told this newspaper. “Having a real, robust conversation about pedestrian safety in our community is long overdue. It will be enlightening to hear what DOT and NYPD plan to do to counter reckless and unsafe driving, and I expect DOT and NYPD to learn a lot hearing about local issues and how residents feel they can best be addressed.”

Brannan added that his goal in hosting the town is “to make sidewalks and streets safer for everybody.”

U.S. Rep. Max Rose, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, all of whom represent parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, are also sponsoring the March 27 town hall.

There were 3,312 car crashes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, 400 more than the average number of collisions in other Brooklyn neighborhoods during that same time period, according to Brannan, who got the statistics from the NYPD.

Even more shocking, there were 17 car crashes within the confines of the 68th Precinct in the course of a single day, Jan. 14, 2019, police said. The 68th Precinct covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

“It is unacceptable to have that many crashes in one day,” said Brannan shortly after the numbers were released.

Despite the success of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, pedestrians still face danger simply by crossing the street, residents said.

Residents have reported seeing crashes ranging from simple fender-benders to accidents in which ambulances had to be called to treat injured victims.

Solving the problem could involve a combination of enforcement measures, re-configuring intersections and educating the public on the rules and regulations of the road, Brannan said.

Gounardes was so troubled by the statistics that he formed a task force, called the Southern Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Task Force, to take a close look at the situation and come up with suggestions on how to make the streets safer.

Meanwhile, 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 study the problem. The community board represents the interests of the residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in dealing with city agencies.

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.

“Our accident numbers are high,” Beckmann told this newspaper in January.

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