Maimonides Hospital, FDNY: Boro Park Ped Islands Don’t Slow Response Times

Despite what Dov Hikind and Marcia Kramer say, the fire department reports no trouble navigating the new pedestrian refuge islands on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Here’s something Marcia Kramer, Dov Hikind, and Marty Markowitz forgot to mention in all their accumulated lawsuit threats, media events, and TV coverage on the Fort Hamilton Parkway pedestrian refuges: FDNY and Maimonides hospital report that the project has not affected response times.

In opposing the pedestrian islands, designed to calm traffic and provide a safer crossing for Borough Park’s large senior population, Kramer, Hikind, and Markowitz have attempted to wrap themselves in the banner of public safety. They claim that the islands make it difficult for emergency vehicles to traverse the road, slowing response times to nearby Maimonides. According to Maimonides itself and the FDNY, however, their vehicles are able to move freely and respond to emergencies as effectively as ever.

“As far as the hospital is concerned, there has been no issue with delivering care,” Maimonides Assistant Vice President for Public Relations Eileen Tynan told Streetsblog. “Our ambulance drivers concur.” If medical care is suffering as a result of the pedestrian islands, it’s news to those providing care.

The FDNY similarly reported no problem with its fire trucks or ambulances navigating the redesigned Fort Hamilton Parkway and no threat to public safety. Said a fire department spokesperson by e-mail, “FDNY met with DOT regarding these ‘pedestrian refuge islands’ before they were installed. As with any project, any concerns would be discussed and fixed. I do not have any information that says our units cannot drive safely on Fort Hamilton Parkway.” FDNY EMTs and paramedics respond to 1.2 million emergencies citywide each year, or three a minute.

Dov Hikind’s office has not responded to requests for comment about the statements from Maimonides and FDNY.

One subset of emergency responders who may be influencing Hikind’s opposition to pedestrian safety infrastructure is Hatzolah, the Orthodox Jewish volunteer ambulance service. Hatzolah has petitioned the local community board to ask the city to take out the refuge islands, according to CBS 2.

Hatzolah CEO Rabbi David Cohen said it was a given that the refuges slow emergency vehicles. “It will increase response times,” he said. “You don’t need a transportation maven to tell you.” Cohen added that he didn’t have any hard measurement of increased response times, only driver testimony, and that no one had died as a result of the supposedly slower Hatzolah service.

Cohen also brought up issues unrelated to emergency response, complaining that the refuge islands have made it harder for businesses to load and unload, and had slowed traffic for non-emergency drivers. “Quite frankly, it just increases driving times around,” he said. “A bottleneck is bad anywhere, and when it’s next to a hospital, that’s doubly bad.”

But the refuges have not removed any traffic lanes from the roadway, suggesting that any new traffic back-ups must be caused by double-parking, and the only effect on loading is that double-parkers cause inconvenience to the drivers behind them. It seems like Hatzolah, and the businesses Cohen spoke for, do not have a pedestrian refuge problem. They have a double-parking problem.

  • AlexB

    Thanks for looking into this.  Really makes it clear who’s making things up and who isn’t

  • S in Boro Park

    Marcia Kramer should be fired for so horribly misrepresenting FDNY this way.  

  • krstrois

    >>Cohen also brought up issues unrelated to emergency response, complaining that the refuge islands have made it harder for businesses to load and unload, and had slowed traffic for non-emergency drivers. “Quite frankly, it just increases driving times around,” he said. “A bottleneck is bad anywhere, and when it’s next to a hospital, that’s doubly bad.”

    Lying about emergency response to imbue your your views with gravity. Ugh to you. 

  • As Tom Vanderbilt pointed out in “Traffic,” even if there’s a slight delay, which saves more lives:

    An emergency vehicle arriving one minute early (I believe that’s how long the average delay was – in any case, it was miniscule)?

    Or an overwide raceway of a road that both encourages unsafe driving and forces pedestrians to bolt across vast expanses of asphalt… or  leaves then stranded in the middle of 5 ton vehicles hurtling past them at fatal speeds?

  • Media Critic

    Someone should print this, fold it neatly into an envelope and mail it to Maurice DuBois and Kate Sullivan at CBS2. Write a polite note explaining to Marcia Kramer’s anchors tha they are embarrassing themselves and destroying their credibility by continuing to let Kramer do stories like this on their program. Tell them that you hold them responsible and you think it should stop.

  • It might be better to get the attention of David Friend, Marcia’s boss and the News Director at CBS2. Even better, get FDNY and Maimonides to demand a retraction and apology.

  • Sadly, Marcia Kramer already won cause she’s loud and obnoxious and will scare CBS viewers into hating safety improvements. Only streetsblog’s proper reporting would be accurate enough to follow up with FDNY… now way is CBS or MArcia Kramer going to admit they were completely wrong. And the fact that DOT is shrinking those islands really only helps her ‘story.’  Only REAL issue I’ve ever heard in FDNY complaints is a rather valid one… when the bike lane is moved curbside and protected with parked cars, it means a fire truck can’t get as close to a building, and so its ladder can’t reach as many floors high. THAT, i agree is an actual issue which should be addressed. Crappy reporting though from CBS should be fired.

  • J

    Well done, Noah! This kind of in-depth reporting makes Streetsblog worth a donation, in my opinion.

  • Maimonides?  I thought they were Urmonides!

  • What I don’t understand is why anybody would oppose them … all the reasons given sound like excuses, which means there must be some underlying actual reason…. but I can’t imagine what it could be — it’s not like these things actually remove any significant space from cars, cost all that much, promote transit/bicycling/collectivism, remove parking, or anything other other things carheads usually whine about.

    All they do is make crossing the street safer and less scary; who could object to that?

  • Markalkan

    As someone who bikes along this stretch of road weekly, more or less, I can give you a reason or two. Ft Hamilton Pkwy there is NOT a wide street having space only for two generous lanes of traffic. WIth the “refuge islands” there, getting by on a bike with semis coming down the roadway is a dangerous affair. Those trucks are wider than the average family vehicle or even an ambulance, so there is really very little room to safely pass alongside them on a bike. Strange that our DOT goddess (the divine Ms Sadid-Khan) hasn’t noticed this. (If she really wanted to do something for bike safety, why didn’t she find someway of installing a bike path along Ft Ham Pkwy from MacDonald Ave to the end of the cemetary? A biker has two choices: ride in the traffic lanes in that stretch or ride on the pedestrian path (with all the broken pavement) alongside the cemetary.)

    I’ve ridden along this road by the hospital many times and have seen traffic backed up for a block or so because there was no room for larger vehicles to maneuver. Remember, in addition to then hospital, a number of doctors offices are located along Ft Hamilton Pkwy and patients, often those who have difficulty walking, have to be dropped off for appointments. And there are also businesses, something I believe we should encourage here in NYC.The parkway is simply not wide enough to need a “refuge island.” Are we going to put these islands on every two lane street in the city?


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