Transportation safety advocates and elected officials demanded that the city take action in the wake of the death of a 3-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a food delivery truck on a Bath Beach street on Thursday.
“This tragic crash could have been prevented,” said Amy Cohen, founder of the group Families for Safe Streets.
Cohen called on the city to strengthen Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy by adopting the Vision Zero Design Standard, a program that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install safety measures as a matter of routine whenever a street is redesigned.
“For too long, New York City’s Vision Zero policy has relied upon individuals begging for safety on a street-by-street, intersection-by-intersection basis. We need a Vision Zero policy that makes safe streets a matter of course,” Cohen said.
The Vision Zero Street Design Standard would require City Council legislation, but Cohen said 43 of the council’s 51 members have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.
Cohen spoke out after Emur Shavkator was struck and killed by a van making a turn from Bay 25th Street onto Benson Avenue. The little boy was riding a scooter when he was hit by the van, police said.
The driver of the van, Johnny Gonzalez, 61, of Bensonhurst, was later charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.
Councilmember Mark Treyger, a Democrat who represents parts of the neighborhood, called Emur’s death “an unspeakable tragedy,” and said he has grown increasingly frustrated with the DOT over the lack of additional safety measures at the intersection.
“Our streets need to be safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and little kids on scooters. I have been requesting traffic calming measures at this intersection since 2014, including submitting multiple requests for traffic signals which were denied by the city’s Department of Transportation. There is a moral urgency to street safety improvements that, regrettably, does not seem to be captured in the data points collected during traffic studies,” Treyger said in a statement.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who also represents parts of Bath Beach, pledged to work with Treyger to get something done.
“Trust that Councilman Treyger and I will continue to fight for better street design, traffic calming measures, speed cameras and enforcement to ensure that our streets are safe for all,” Brannan wrote on Twitter.
Assemblymember Bill Colton, a Democrat whose district includes Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, demanded that DOT install a traffic light at the deadly intersection.
“For numerous years I have been requesting the New York City Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at such a dangerous intersection. [DOT] has failed to act for much too long and it is outrageous that a child three years young had to pay with his life today because [DOT] blatantly disregards numerous warnings,” he said in a statement.
The shocking death of a little boy was also a topic of discussion at a town hall meeting state Sen. Andrew Gounardes held in Bay Ridge Thursday night.
“It was a terrible, unspeakable tragedy,” Gounardes said of the fatal Bath Beach crash. He described the intersection where the incident took place as “a problem location.” There were 10 incidents there over the last couple of years, according to Gounardes, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge and several other Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods. He does not represent the area where the boy was killed.
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, a Democrat whose district includes Coney Island, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, said local residents were alarmed by the traffic situation. “They witness with their own eyes on a regular basis people zooming past stop signs,” Frontus said.
A DOT spokesperson said the agency will be addressing the situation.
“DOT is looking into potential safety enhancements here, and we will also be opening a new signal study,” the spokesperson told this newspaper via email on Friday.
The mayor wrote about the tragedy on Twitter and vowed to work to make streets safer. “We won’t rest until our streets are safe for every child,” he wrote.