Park Slope Parent Ped Rage

community_respect2.jpgEnjoy this bit of dialogue overheard on the renowned Park Slope Parents e-mail list. A mom pushing a stroller witnesses a bicyclist get hit by a car. Someone else confirms and adds to the story. Others jump in with their own stories of Brooklyn’s unmitigated motor vehicle mayhem.

Your reward for reading this somewhat lengthy exchange is a bit towards the end about a stroller-pushing mommy pulling a can of beans out of her grocery bag and cracking open an agressive driver’s rear window to the applause of bystanders.

StreetsBlog is looking for this kind of micro-level, neighborhood reporting, particularly when it comes along with photos and when it originates in politically powerful, outer borough neighborhoods where the Mayor doesn’t typically expect to hear kvetching about Livable Streets issues (in other words — not Park Slope!). Thanks to David for submitting this one:

[ParkSlopeParents] Accident on 6th ave @ 9th street around 8:30?
Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:52 am

I was dropping my son off at daycare this morning and we happened upon this only moments after it occured. There seemed to be plenty of people assisting, and by the time traffic cleared and I passed by, I heard the sirens approaching.

It appeared to be an accident with a cyclist, whether it involved a car or not I am not sure, but I think he/she was hit. There was clearly a bicycle and someone lying on the ground, beyond that I don’t know.

I don’t mean to alarm anyone and if this person is related to you and you are reading this, I do hope everything is OK. My son, who is three, was very concerned, he heard the emotion in my voice and he saw the bike.

Does anyone know what happened and if this cyclist is OK?

Thanks,

Barbara, mom to Jakob, just 3.

[ParkSlopeParents] Re: Accident on 6th ave @ 9th street around 8:30?
Mon Jul 10, 2006  7:32 pm

I was actually crossing that street when it happened!…

I was bringing my baby to daycare. We were in the middle of the crosswalk when a car on 6th Avenue (coming from 8th street) made a left and passed right in front of us to go up 9th St (I absolutely hate it when cars do that, which is about 99% of the time, doesn’t matter if you have a stroller, they’ll speed up right in front of you and cut you off).

The driver was trying to avoid us, she did not see the cyclist coming from the opposite side of the street (he was riding on the crosswalk). The man hit the car pretty hard and landed about 1 feet in front of my stroller. He was conscious but was bleeding from a head injury. The ambulance came pretty quickly. I too hope this man is fine. I spoke to the police, but if his friend and family is reading this and needs me to testify I’d be more than happy to do so.

The whole thing was obviously very scary. Granted he should not have been riding on the crosswalk, drivers are in general incredibly negligent and dangerous around here. If the driver had stopped to let me cross the street, as she should have, this would never have happened.

Delphine

[ParkSlopeParents] Re: accident at 6th Ave @ 9 St
Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:47 am

I was almost hit by a car while walking with my son in the same spot, same scenario of a car speeding to make a left on to 9th Street. This kind of driving happens all over Park Slope — PPW at 3rd Street across from the playground is another bad spot. I’ve been cut off so many times in this neighborhood  when walking with children. It’s really unsafe, with all the kids around Park Slope.

Is there something that can be done about it? Has anyone ever brought it up at a community board meeting? I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore, though I am in the Slope almost daily.

Kryssa

[ParkSlopeParents] traffic from hell
Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:31 pm

I live on 12th Street just off Fifth. When my son was much smaller I lived in mortal fear of trips to the supermarket or my bank with my son in his stroller (I bank at HSBC and shop at the supermarket next to it) for exactly the same reasons you’ve mentioned. Even now – he’s 7 – I make him hold my hand while crossing much to his mortification, and I’ve been known to yank him HARD to get him across the street and out of the path of maniacs making that same turn. It’s not getting better, it’s getting much, much worse – the cars are turning faster, and there are more of them doing the same exact thing.

I saw one woman struggling across the street with multiple bags of groceries hanging off her kid’s stroller; when she got cut off, TWICE, she reached into her grocery bags and hauled out a can of beans which she threw at the rear window of the second car, cracking it clear across. Several witnesses clapped and cheered. The jerk driving the car actually had the nerve to pull over and come after her about the window, but fortunately, everyone that had seen what happened backed her up. I didn’t see the ultimate finale, but that’s one of the more extreme things I’ve seen at that intersection.
Emily

[ParkSlopeParents] Re: traffic from hell
Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:43 am

Peoples’ mental frames seem to change once they become drivers. (I’ve seen my own mother suddenly transform from a mild-mannered sweet lady into a driver in a huge rush and start calling other drivers bad names.) Certainly this doesn’t apply to everyone, but to enough people that it makes the good drivers look bad. Drivers are too concerned with "making the light". It’s extremely silly that cars making a left or right turn feel the need to rush given that they often turn onto a street with a red light at the next intersection. My only explanation for it is that the drivers feel a small victory (and I do mean small) when they intimidate and "beat" pedestrians through the intersection.

The intersection of 8th Ave and 10th Street was once horrible until they installed a traffic light. Anybody ever try to cross 15th Street on the west side of PPW? It’s the only turnoff from the circle without a light. For some reason, cars think they can just jet out of the circle and turn onto 15th Street without yielding to pedestrians. Since when does any car making any turn without a traffic light not need to yield to pedestrians? Apparently cars do not consider it a turn. I’ve gotten yelled at by a few drivers who said that I should "watch it". This is despite the fact that there’s a HUGE sign at the intersection saying that pedestrians have the right of way.

I think the solution may be to reprogram traffic lights so that there’s a delay for the cars. Pedestrians then could get a headstart into the intersection before the inevitable onrush of cars.

Dave (has a little girl who likes to wander into intersections)

Photo: Snapped at the DDDB "Atlantic Yards" rally in Grand Army Plaza, July 16.

  • Exactly. My community Board, much to it’s credit has requested more all red crossing time which in traffic congestion circles is know as the “Barnes Dance”

    From Wikipedia:

    The Barnes Dance is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all traffic and allows pedestrians to cross intersections in every direction at the same time. The Barnes Dance was first used in Kansas City and Vancouver in the late 1940s. Subsequently it was adopted in other cities such as Denver, Baltimore, New York, Montreal, Beverly Hills, and the famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo.

    Although named after Henry Barnes, the system was not invented by him. Barnes, however, was the first to use the system on a large scale. In his autobiography, The Man With the Red and Green Eyes, he writes that the phrase was first coined by a City Hall reporter, John Buchanan.

    This type of pedestrian crossing is also known as a scramble light or a pedestrian scramble. In Japan, where over 300 such intersections exist, it is known as a sukuranburu-kōsaten (スクランブル交差点).

    In many cities in the Netherlands a similar system is used to allow cyclists to cross busy intersections.

  • a dutch cyclist living in park slope

    there’s no such thing in holland as a legalized cyclist scramble. everyone just crosses the road as they see fit. the reason it works is because people in dutch traffic are paying really close attention to each other (just like in rome, btw).

    the thing that kills me in brooklyn (and it cost me my tibia in london) is the fact that outside of holland, cars don’t follow the right of way rule: i.e. they make turns regardless of pedestrians/cyclists crossing the road.

  • it’s pretty scary down here on 15th at the traffic circle… all of the other streets off the circle have lights except ours, so cars come careening around the circle onto 15th, also a bus route. gives me a reason to never cross at the corner, but in the middle of the block. too dangerous at the crosswalk. (ironic, no?)

  • NSJ

    I grew up near and lived in Seattle until I moved to Brooklyn about ten years ago. I’ve encountered drivers with a shocking disregard for pedestrians in both cities. However in Brooklyn the pedestrian disregard for safe crossing laws is legendary. Perhaps drivers in Brooklyn are so used to dodging pedestrians crossing against the light that they don’t give safety much of a thought trying to negotiate a crowded intersection when pedestrians have the right of way. Now this may be fantastical thinking, but perhaps when pedestrians start taking the right of way laws more seriously so will the drivers. Of course as a pedestrian one could feel like an idiot standing at a Brooklyn crosswalk waiting for the light to change as people flow past.

    In the early 90’s, the mayor of Seattle Norm Rice, instituted a policy of no tolerance for both jaywalking and cars not giving right of way to pedestrians. Tickets were given out like candy. Divers were given tickets for turning into a street crossing if there was even one pedestrian with a foot still below curb level and pedestrians were given tickets for stepping off the curb against the Don’t Walk sign. Urban legend had it that the ticket deluge started when the mayor himself had an epiphany upon getting a $19 jaywalking ticket for crossing against the light. My friends and I started using the mantra “Norm Rice 19 Dollars” whenever we crossed against the light to protect us against getting our own $19 ticket.

    I guess my point is that somewhere in between there should be a satisfactory medium.

  • Norm Rice-style ticketing wouldn’t work in Brooklyn, because the cops could NEVER be convinced to do their job in enforcing traffic rules, be it violations by motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians. You’re on your own. Hope your insurance is paid up.

    On the RARE occasions when I’ve seen a car stopped for a traffic violation in this neighborhood (and it is EXTREMELY rare) I usually stand there mouth-agape. But ticket a cyclist for blowing through a red light and nearly mowing down a pedestrian? Hah. Don’t make me laugh. Never seen it. Never will.

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