Kramer and Hikind Exaggerate Victory in War on Pedestrians

Last night Marcia Kramer served up more of her unique brand of public service journalism, triumphantly reporting that the city will remove pedestrian safety measures designed to prevent seniors from getting killed and maimed in Borough Park traffic. Touring Fort Hamilton Parkway with Dov Hikind, the State Assembly rep who threatened last month to sue NYC DOT over the recently-installed pedestrian islands, Kramer reported that the city has agreed to remove what she called “the offending barricades.” But it seems like in their zeal to run up the score against pedestrian safety improvements, Kramer and Hikind overstated the extent of the changes in store for the street.

According to multiple sources familiar with the current status of the project, the changes that the city is considering will narrow but not remove the pedestrian refuges. It’s not clear how wide the refuges will be after the alterations. The changes will also include adding pedestrian safety features to other intersections on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow said the details of the changes are still getting fleshed out: “We are considering making adjustments and additional improvements along the corridor, though nothing has been finalized at this time.”

Hikind has been attacking the pedestrian refuges since last fall, with a few assists from Kramer. Her CBS2 segments have portrayed the refuges — built as part of NYC DOT’s citywide Safe Streets for Seniors initiative — as agents of “cement chaos” (note: they are made of concrete). While the Safe Streets for Seniors program uses traffic injury and demographic data to pinpoint locations where senior pedestrians are most in need of safety improvements, Kramer and Hikind are fond of using visual anecdotes and mangled logic to make their case for undoing street designs that save lives.

After announcing his intent to sue DOT over the pedestrian islands, Hikind told Streetsblog, “I care about pedestrians at least as much as you do.”

Then he went on to claim that DOT “didn’t do its homework” because another stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway has a worse pedestrian safety record than the blocks that received refuges. Given the spate of horrific traffic deaths that preceded the installation of the pedestrian islands, it would seem to follow that someone who cares about pedestrians would then call for more pedestrian safety measures on the blocks where even more people are getting killed. But Hikind is only on DOT’s case for taking steps to protect pedestrians.

Meanwhile, how many times can Marcia Kramer run the same shot of an ambulance steering into the opposite traffic lane and pretend like the same thing doesn’t happen on other two-way NYC streets all the time? How much mileage can she get out of the unsubstantiated assertion that the islands cause trouble for emergency vehicles on the way to Maimonides hospital, without citing any hard evidence?

To see what the situation on the ground actually looks like, just keep your eye on the background of last night’s Kramer hit job. Watch as she and Hikind tour what looks to be a remarkably well-functioning stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway, standing in the middle of the very refuges they want to tear out, as traffic moves at a calm and deliberate pace around them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m calling “Agents of Cement Chaos” for use as a band name right now.

  • Anonymous

    Nice work using slow-mo on the shot of the fire truck.  You can see the rate of camera-shake suddenly slow down to a near stop as the truck is rounding the corner.  The VO says “ran smack dab into cement traffic islands” while the super-slow video shows the truck making the turn with no obvious trouble at all.  This isn’t just inadvertant misrepresentation, this is a deliberate manipulation of the footage to give the impression something happened in the shot that didn’t.  The copy is factually incorrect as the truck doesn’t actually run into anything.  This isn’t anything like journalism from this so-called “political reporter,” it’s just lying, plain and simple.  Maybe there are problems with the street design, maybe there aren’t, but this “story” is a complete fraud.

    Full disclosure: Marcia Kramer requires massive photoshopping not to look like a disinterred corpse in promos and ads. (I know because I’ve actually done it for her in the past.  You’re welcome, Marcia.)

  • Anonymous

    Nice work using slow-mo on the shot of the fire truck.  You can see the rate of camera-shake suddenly slow down to a near stop as the truck is rounding the corner.  The VO says “ran smack dab into cement traffic islands” while the super-slow video shows the truck making the turn with no obvious trouble at all.  This isn’t just inadvertant misrepresentation, this is a deliberate manipulation of the footage to give the impression something happened in the shot that didn’t.  The copy is factually incorrect as the truck doesn’t actually run into anything.  This isn’t anything like journalism from this so-called “political reporter,” it’s just lying, plain and simple.  Maybe there are problems with the street design, maybe there aren’t, but this “story” is a complete fraud.

    Full disclosure: Marcia Kramer requires massive photoshopping not to look like a disinterred corpse in promos and ads. (I know because I’ve actually done it for her in the past.  You’re welcome, Marcia.)

  • Sean Roche

    I certainly would quote a deli owner on the problem that ambulances are having getting to the hospital.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You know what?  I’d go the other way on this.  Remove the pedestrian islands, and manage Fort Hamilton Parkway for maximum vehicle throughput.  The community has spoken.

    And if the community subsequently throws Hikind out after more incidents, then Borough Park could have pedestrian safety improvements.  After every single other community in the city that wants them already has theirs.

    There are enough places that don’t want through traffic.  When you have elected representatives and the media screaming for it, consider it an opportunity.  After all, alternatives will be required when the BQE is being reconstructed.  

  • Mark Walker

    If you want to see traffic islands in action, look at Broadway on the Upper West Side. I’ve been living among them for three and a half decades and I’ve never seen them prevent an emergency vehicle from getting through. They make the area a much safer and pleasanter place in which to walk and shop. And they include barriers with real car-stopping power, so pedestrians taking refuge are actually safe. What’s amazing about Hikind and Kramer is that they can go to a site where a street design improvement is actually working and just flat-out lie about it, even to the extent of lying about their own onscreen images, as commenter station44025 noted. It’s a shame those trees have to die — who knows if future generations will have funds to reinstall them? Or the islands, for that matter.

  • Anonymous

    Routing traffic through this stretch of road while the BQE is being reconstructed – makes sense.  Few impediments to the nonstop rush of motor vehicles all day and night.  Brilliant!

  • Anonymous

    Number of firemen or FDNY representatives Kramer interviews: 0.
    Number of ambulance drivers of union representatives Kramer interviews: 0.
    Number of hospital administrators or spokespeople Kramer interviews: 0.
    Number of deli owners Kramer interviews: 1.

    Kramer’s days as a journalist are long behind her.

    The first time a person dies crossing this street, the deli owner’s quote about celebrating the island’s removal should be played on infinite loop.  Hikind’s quote about pedestrian islands putting people at risk should also not be forgotten.

  • With Marcia Kramer’s hard-earned rep as the lone defender of emergency vehicles caught up in street obstructions,  I’m sure we can count on her support and “citizen journalism” next time the congestion pricing debate flares up. 

    Right, Marcia?

  • Lisa

    apparently marcia kramer is never going to get old.

  • Anonymous

    In her effort to support Hikind’s bashing of DOT, Kramer glosses over the fact that Councilman Lander with Brooklyn Borough DOT Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, in an effort to come up with a plan that would quell community concerns when the islands were installed in Nov. 2010, had found that NYPD, FDNY, and Maimonides Hospital were all on board with the project, and CB 12 had nothing to say. To forward her agenda that DOT acted in haste without outside input she not only fails to mention that there were 4 pedestrian deaths in the last 3 years along that short stretch, but does not bother to obtain comments from executive officials at any of those agencies even to clarify their current positions.
     
    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/Video+Section/75032/NYC-Councilman-Lander-%26-DOT-Borough-Commissioner-Visit-Ft.-Hamilton-Pkwy-In-Regards-To-Pedestrian-Islands.html

  • Ryan Macphee

    How frustrating!  It amazes me how far people will go to try and maintain the ugly, loud, and polluting status quo. When you look around NYC and see how few people are actually in cars and the disproportionate amount of space they take up, it’s can really make you angry. I live in SOHO and I think that making areas (especially NOLITA) car free would be a wonderful idea.  I wonder when people are going to wake up and realize that car culture is failed experiment and we need to move on?

  • Joe R.

    This is especially true in a place like NYC, where many areas are within easy walking distance of subways.  We should try making car-free areas in parts of the city where the residents wouldn’t suffer any mobility problems as a result.  That includes all of Manhattan, much and Brooklyn and the Bronx, and parts of Queens.  we should add mass trasnity/bike lanes to places without them.  As mass transit reaches a reasonably density, then cars should be banned from those places as well.  While we can’t feasbily ban cars from the 5 boroughs now, it makes sense to work on a master plan which will let us do that within 15 or 20 years.  Sure, it will entail adding miles of subways, but this is long past due for NYC.  We never should have let cars get the foothold they did in the city.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t get a grip on any sort of rationale for Kramer & Hikind’s position except that of reducing their convenience, pure and simple.  And to me that is infantile.  Perhaps they both need to be hit by a car to knock some empathy into their self centered little world.

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