Awaiting NYPD Checkpoints for NYC’s Most Dangerous Streets

Prospect Park loop, Saturday afternoon.

This was the scene on the Prospect Park loop Saturday afternoon. With two pedestrians having sustained serious injuries in collisions with cyclists on the southwest side of the park over the last six months, NYPD and the Parks Enforcement Patrol set up at the base of the hill where the crashes happened. (The Daily News, in a typical he-said/she-said style piece, claimed credit for the police checkpoint this weekend.)

Heightening awareness of the need to look out for other park users is all to the good. But Doug Gordon at Brooklyn Spoke raised a good question this morning. Namely: Why can’t locations with a history of traffic crashes that cause injuries also get NYPD checkpoints?

It seems like only bike-ped crashes elicit this kind of response from police, while locations where motorists cause fatalities are forgotten as soon as the crash scene is cleared and the NYPD declares that “no criminality is suspected.”

Around the corner from Streetsblog HQ is one of the most crash-prone locations in the city. The intersection of Lafayette and Canal saw 13 crashes and one pedestrian injury in the month of August alone, but I’ve never seen officers on the scene, on the lookout for motorists who fail to yield or run a light. The more common sight is a traffic enforcement agent waving cars and trucks through crosswalks where pedestrians have the signal.

There are thousands of locations in New York City where police could hand out flyers about obeying the speed limit and yielding to pedestrians to drivers stopped at red lights. If NYPD can devote resources to bike-ped conflicts in the Prospect Park loop, why not send a few officers out to the places where people are getting maimed and killed in traffic?

  • Daphna

    Ben makes excellent points in this article.  It is so unfortunate that the most dangerous intersections are not being policed, and that the most dangerous road users (motorists) are not getting extra police attention, but instead the very occasional bike/ped conflict is getting inordinate media attention and NYPD resources.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

  • Shemp

    I was driving a Zipcar down Kent Avenue in the North Side one evening last summer and was stopped by cops who were giving out handbills to all the cars asking drivers to be careful along the stretch near North 6th-8th because of the big mix of cyclists, pedestrians and cars.   It was kind of a hell-freezes-over moment so I checked into it – credit to an activist precinct commander.

  • Isaac B

    > The more common sight is a traffic enforcement agent waving cars and trucks through crosswalks where pedestrians have the signal.

    Heck, at 9:05 tonight, two police vans turned right from 58th St to 5th Avenue (in Manhattan) lights flashing, just as the ped signal went “walk”. To hell with the pedestrians and their right of way. We have traffic agents to move! I’ve seen worse. Once, in LA, a parking enforcement car barreled its way, turning left an an intersection when the peds had the signal…then ordered the peds not to cross the street, as the light has started flashing “don’t walk”. I guess they take traffic signals seriously in LA.

  • Really dangerous street for pedestrians. This is great information you have shared here. Super article. Keep it up.

  • Iam1with1

    I think it’s worth mentioning that the orange traffic cones that the officers set up to corral cyclists succeeded only in creating a confusing bottleneck with both cyclists and pedestrians wandering randomly into all three of the temporary lanes and many cyclists simply veering into the pedestrian lane, neither slowing nor stopping. The four police officers plus four park rangers effectively clogged the crosswalk so pedestrians were mostly crossing 20-50 feet south of the crosswalk, right in the area where the cyclists who did stop were regaining momentum. As is typical, many people were standing in the road with their backs to oncoming traffic, distracted by the spectacle of the crowded intersection and seven official vehicles parked in disarray with their roof lights flashing. To me the whole thing looked more like an accident scene (or an accident waiting to happen) than anything useful or helpful.

  • dporpentine

    On my way to work this morning a concrete mixing truck wanted to turn left into me and I had to swerve while screaming at the driver in order not to be killed. (And I was in a bike lane, obeying all the traffic signals, wearing a helmet–all that irrelevant crap.)

    If I’d been killed, it would’ve been a one-day news story in a few places. Nothing would’ve happened with the driver and lots of People on the Internet would agree that I probably ran a light, was  “trying to beat” the truck at getting through the intersection, etc.

    And no cops would ever show up where it happened to create a checkpoint.

    Truly, the sense of priorities here is sickening.

  • Anonymous

    The perfect response to this silly, wasteful, distracting “security theater” is to attend the rally tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 11/30) at 8:30 a.m. at One Police Plaza to demand that the NYPD take dangerous driving (we’re talking cars, folks) seriously.

  • fj

    6trilliondollarTransportation @grist
    must be frustrating treating the symptoms rather than the disease

  • Joe R.

      @c661ddb94bcffdc2c6124e349eafdc77:disqus You have a plethora of people who have read your posts as proof that you’ve been a stickler about obeying traffic laws to the letter.  Should any misfortune come upon you, there will be a bunch of people here, including myself, defending any accusations that your demise was brought about by running a red light, or some other violation of traffic laws.  Of course, that won’t help you much, but it might drive home the point that the cyclist isn’t always to blame in every traffic accident.

  • zach berman

    I’m often a ped and cyclist in Prospect Park and have experienced plenty of close calls both ways. As soon as we can get the cars out altogether and eliminate markings and signals for cars, we can install signals that make sense for peds and cyclists and make it safer. For now, it makes sense 2 hours/day in each direction, and the other 16 hours/day that the park is open, the markings and signals are inappropriate. No one, not peds, not cyclists, not NYPD, and not Parks Enforcement knows how to deal with the mixed signals, so to speak.


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