Jumaane Williams: Time to Tame the “East Flatbush Motorist Danger Zone”

City Council Member Jumaane Williams with (l-r) Transportation Alternatives general counsel Juan Martinez, Four-in-One Block Association president Hazel Martinez, and Small Business Men and Women of Avenue D president Terrence LaPierre. Photo: Keith Dawson/NYC Council

City Council Member Jumaane Williams yesterday called on the city to take action to improve traffic safety in East Flatbush, where hundreds of people have been injured and killed by reckless drivers in less than two years.

The area targeted by Williams centers on Kings Highway, and is bounded by Utica Avenue and Ralph Avenue to the west and east, respectively, Church Avenue to the north, and Glenwood Road to the south.

Williams was joined at a press conference by neighborhood leaders and Transportation Alternatives, which released a map of severe crashes within what Williams calls the “East Flatbush Motorist Danger Zone” [PDF]. Between August 2011 and February 2013, 69 pedestrians, 24 cyclists, and 385 motorists were injured in the target area. Two pedestrians and three motorists were killed.

Among the victims of reckless drivers in East Flatbush is Denim McLean, a toddler who was fatally struck by a curb-jumping motorist in March. Nine other bystanders, including Denim’s mother, were injured in that crash. The driver was not charged with a crime by NYPD or District Attorney Charles Hynes. Williams first announced his intent to pursue measures to tame traffic in his district in the aftermath of McLean’s death.

“My primary responsibility is the safety of my constituents, and the fact is that our streets are not meeting an acceptable standard of safety,” said Williams, in a press statement issued Wednesday. “There have been multiple fatalities and hundreds of injuries in the last couple years along Kings Highway, Utica Avenue and nearby thoroughfares. We need to double our efforts to reduce speeding and related violations that endanger motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Williams wants to work with DOT on traffic calming in the area, and called on NYPD to step up enforcement. He also singled out State Senator Marty Golden for his opposition to speed cameras in NYC. “It is unconscionable for politicians like Dean Skelos and Marty Golden to oppose this legislation in Albany,” said Williams. “The bill is a prudent pilot program that would protect vulnerable pedestrians on neighborhood streets.”

East Flatbush is covered by the 67th Precinct, where at least three pedestrians have died in traffic in 2013, and where police issued just 45 speeding tickets in 2012 — an average of one every eight days.

“Flatbush residents will applaud Council Member Williams’ efforts to hold lawbreaking drivers accountable and make local streets safer for everyone,” said TA spokesperson Michael Murphy, in an email to Streetsblog. “With dangerous drivers causing nearly 400 injuries in this neighborhood in the past 20 months alone, Council Member Williams’ leadership is welcome indeed.”

  • Anonymous

    Very glad Williams is doing this. But I’d argue that he stops short–probably just as a result of where his own City Council boundaries end. There’s more to East Flatbush, and more areas that are very closely connected that are very dangerous. Unfortunately, Mathieu Eugene–essentially, an inert substance–“represents” those.

  • Maybe traffic calming is yet another good reason for Utica Avenue SBS service?

  • Danny G

    It kind of sucks when big high-speed streets run at a slight angle to the grid and screw up all the surrounding blocks. DOT should take a page from what was done years ago on Sixth Avenue between Canal and Houston Streets and turn the most awkward triangles into green space. One difference is that these people have driveways, but you can get creative with redesigning the street if you really want to save lives.

  • Danny G

    It kind of sucks when big high-speed streets run at a slight angle to the grid and screw up all the surrounding blocks. DOT should take a page from what was done years ago on Sixth Avenue between Canal and Houston Streets and turn the most awkward triangles into green space. One difference is that these people have driveways, but you can get creative with redesigning the street if you really want to save lives.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Yes, I’m glad Williams is stepping up with a press conference and some modest proposals. I’d like to see some discussions of safer streets design in the area, too. Neck downs, count down timers, left turn signals, better pedestrian crossing visibility with daylighting, and yes, bike lanes. There is a big tool kit available to make the neighborhood safer.

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