Dov Hikind Threatens to Sue the Safety Off Fort Hamilton Parkway

Assembly Member Dov Hikind is stooping to a new low, even by Albany’s standards, to ensure that traffic keeps on menacing pedestrians to the fullest extent possible on NYC streets.

Dov Hikind ##http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/12/01/dov-hikind-demagogues-against-safer-streets/##rails against pedestrian safety measures## at a CB12 hearing last fall.

The central Brooklyn rep announced today that he’s trying to force the Department of Transportation to remove pedestrian refuges from Fort Hamilton Parkway, threatening what looks to be a copycat lawsuit modeled after the anti-bike lane case filed by well-connected opponents of the Prospect Park West redesign.

Hikind’s office says he plans to file the lawsuit in the next 10 to 14 days, under the same state provision, known as article 78, employed by the PPW plaintiffs.

The Fort Hamilton Parkway refuges were installed last year as part of DOT’s citywide effort to improve street safety in areas with high proportions of senior pedestrians. The project [PDF] targeted a stretch in Borough Park with a grisly record of traffic violence, as local City Council Member Brad Lander wrote in the neighborhood newspaper Hamodia last fall:

On December 31st, 2009, a 74-year-old woman was hit by a truck and killed as she crossed Fort Hamilton Parkway at 49th Street in Boro Park. In April of this year, a 55-year-old person was killed crossing Fort Hamilton just a few blocks away. Nearby, several other pedestrians have been struck by cars. In 2008, when a car collision at Fort Hamilton and 44th Street killed two people, a local resident called it the “corner of death.”

Hikind’s announcement omits all mention of these fatalities. In a press release replete with scare quotes around the phrase “senior safety,” his office announced the delivery of 1,100 petitions to DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri seeking the removal of the refuges. Hikind characterizes the refuges, which give pedestrians safer crossings and cause drivers to take turns more carefully, as “absurd islands.” A project to prevent deaths and injuries is, in Hikind’s view, part of “Sadik-Khan’s crusade against vehicles and motorists.”

Hikind, repeating arguments from a rant he delivered at Brooklyn Community Board 12 last year, hides behind a familiar argument against traffic calming projects all over the country: that streets designed to improve safety impede emergency response, in this case for vehicles en route to Maimonides Medical Center. Streetsblog noted in December that these claims are divorced from public health and safety research, which show that life-saving benefits accrue from traffic-calming, while no correlation exists between patient mortality rates and the time it takes to transport patients to a hospital. From a safety perspective, there is no reason to think that a Fort Hamilton Parkway without pedestrian refuges would do anything except put people at greater risk.

As Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt has written, using the emergency response argument against traffic calming measures entails a fundamental miscalculation:

Designing roads to meet some supposed emergency response criteria, for that dramatic last-second rescue, actually helps raise the risk of dying in a much more common way: In traffic.

Dov Hikind’s crusade against pedestrians will only cost lives. All he is seeking is to do is make Fort Hamilton as dangerous as it used to be.

  • Ian Dutton

     Dov Hikind? Against community-friendly safety improvements to satisfy self-interests? Color me unsurprised.

  • Ian Dutton

     Dov Hikind? Against community-friendly safety improvements to satisfy self-interests? Color me unsurprised.

  • AlexB

    Has the hospital complained?  Have there been problems with emergency vehicles being delayed because of the islands?  If it is happening often, it might be legitimate.  Weird that the author of the blog wouldn’t have done a simple comparison that could have answered the question much more cleanly: pedestrian deaths on fort hamilton parkway per year before islands vs. deaths per year from delayed ambulances.  I know these haven’t been installed that long, but there must be something that is encouraging this guy to make these claims.  Or not?  We’ll never know because it wasn’t mentioned.

  • Hamilton West

    A special corner of Hades awaits Dov Hikind.

  • Hamilton West

    A special corner of Hades awaits Dov Hikind.

  • Weird that the writer of this comment wouldn’t have clicked on the link to the article that states that there is no correlation between ambulance delays and patient deaths.

  • krstrois

     It would be one thing if this were coming from some genuine, though misguided, principal, but it’s all just such total bullshit. 
    Dov Hikind manifesto:  “I am beholden to political interests and relationships I forged in the early 1980s. I have been able to hold onto my position because I come from an insular, reactionary community and wield outsized power in a backward legislative body because of my sociocultural and political relationship with its speaker. I am actively hostile to people from different backgrounds and with different views. I hide behind religion and use it to sow hate.””I fear traffic calming measures that would help people to walk more because walking is liberating and I need to keep my constituency afraid so they will keep voting for me.”

  • Hamilton West

     This is a pretty genius analysis of Hikind.

  • Mark Walker

    Will the car-ad-funded media give equal time to the surviving family and friends of car-kill victims? Or will they simply let Hikind’s statements stand without any attempt at balance?

  • caring insider

    from an insiderthe hospital as well a number of ambulance companies have not stopped complaining, although quietly behind the scenes because they are afraid the mayor will cut their funding if the complain. the NYFD Brooklyn south boro office is complaining as well. all you anti-hikind commentators will do just that, find anything he says and jump on it without knowing what you are talking about

  • Cotb16

    Although Assemblyman Dov Hikind is complaining, I’m sure that the Borough Park community would feel the same way since Boro Park (like fellow Jewish neighborhood Williamsburg) is car country.

  • AlexB

    I read the article and it had nothing to do with ambulance speeds on Fort Hamilton Parkway, nor did it say exactly that there is no correlation between ambulance delays and patient deaths.

  • caring insider

    what about ambulances?
     

  • Dark Age Ahead

    The emergency vehicle responder people all complained about the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project as well. The complaints were all baloney and based on ignorance. None of these street design changes have had any impact on emergency response times. However, the street design changes have very likely helped prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities from taking place. Perhaps the first responders are afraid that if we make our streets safer, they’ll be out of work. They depend on car crashes to stay in business.

  • Wow. You dismiss an article that cites scientific data that ambulance response times don’t effect patient morality because the study wasn’t conducted on this specific street? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

  • Alan

    As a religious Jewish guy who grew up in Boro Park, Dov Hikind has never been anything but an embarassment. He’s all nepotism, favoritism, and bigotry. He makes the whole community look bad, but he keeps getting elected because he runs the political machine there.

  • AlexB

    I’m not dismissing the article, which is interesting and could be relevant to the discussion if ambulances were in fact slowed.  However, the writer doesn’t say whether or not any ambulance delay has occurred one way or the other.  For all I know, they may have been sped up by the street changes.  I just asked if Dov Hikind has any reason for opposing the street improvements based on anything that may have happened on Fort Hamilton Parkway.  My guess is that he doesn’t, but there is no way of knowing unless it is addressed one way or the other.  The DOT or the hospital could have been called to find out if this guy has any clue and it doesn’t sound like that call was made, or at least not reported.  I read this blog daily to get exactly that kind of information.  I don’t think my original question was that strange to ask, and I think the lack of this information is an omission.  Even a sentence or two addressing these questions would have been sufficient.

  • But there’s simply no way for anyone to compile statistics on “pedestrian deaths vs. deaths per year from delayed ambulances.” The second datapoint is not measurable – it’s purely speculation. You can’t ask for data that doesn’t exist.

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