Prompted By Jimmy Van Bramer, CBS 2 Files a Decent Street Safety Story

We wrote last week how Lou Young of CBS 2 blew an opportunity to educate viewers on the merits of potential safe street improvements on the Upper West Side. In covering a press conference in Queens convened by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Young’s colleague Andrea Grymes filed a story that does a much better job reflecting the perils posed by reckless drivers.

Grymes reports that pedestrians on 47th Avenue in Woodside, including seniors and kids at the Towers Play and Learn school, are endangered by speeding motorists looking to avoid Queens Boulevard, many of whom don’t slow down even when children are present. Van Bramer and students temporarily hoisted a DIY stop sign to draw attention to the problem, and he and locals are calling on DOT to calm traffic on the street.

This story definitely has the “little guy fights City Hall” angle, which is probably why Grymes played it straight. It would also have been useful if she had pointed out that the 108th Precinct isn’t doing much in the way of traffic enforcement, having issued just 322 speeding tickets this year as of September. But pieces like this pointing out the dangers of the status quo should be far more common. Whether or not local electeds are attuned to the situation, a New York neighborhood besieged by dangerous drivers is a story that can be told again and again. Consider the DOT Slow Zone waiting list if you doubt it.

If a stop sign isn’t the right solution here, maybe a neckdown or a chicane would solve the problem instead. DOT told CBS 2 the segment of 47th Avenue in question does not meet federal guidelines for a new stop sign, but said it is taking another look at conditions there.

  • Anonymous

    It’s great to see an city council member interested enough in this issue to do something beyond just offering platitudes. I think Van Bramer is one of the most progressive people in NY govt when it comes to transportation issues. And this in spite of the fact that his district is in woodside/sunnyside has a pretty high rate of private vehicle use and ownership.

  • Anonymous

    why does a city DOT have to be controlled by “federal guidlines”? Isn’t that why there is a city agency to make city specific judgement calls?

  • Ian Turner

    The city is not “controlled” by the federal guidelines, but it is certainly influenced them. The reason cities use others’ guidelines is specifically in order to deflect flack in cases like this. Without being able to fall on some other authority, the city would find it harder to resist citizens’ often poorly considered demands.

  • JK

    Great demo! Nice work Jimmy VB. Perfect place for some big raised crosswalks with stop signs. Not sure NYC DOT is doing raised crosswalks anywhere. This would be a good place to try them out. They’re cheap and they work. Stop signs alone on a high volume street are not a good solution. Motorists stop respecting them, while pedestrians expect to be protected by them.

  • Charlie

    Stop signs are often overused and then subsequently ignored by drivers. But yes some traffic calming would be an excellent solution. Curb extensions, raised crosswalk(s), pedestrian crossing signage, etc would make a big difference and force drivers to slow down and yield to pedestrians.

  • krstrois

    Agree with you — this district becomes more progressive everyday and he certainly knows it, and he knows people are moving to his district because of livability. I know half a dozen people who have moved to Jackson Heights and Sunnyside from Fort Greene or Williamsburg in the last year, and not because of $$.

  • Daniel

    I think curb extensions at the beginning of the block would slow drivers down as they enter the block. Then use white lines to deliniate a single lane down the block and install speed bumps after the curb extensions. Finally, add a crosswalk with blinking yellow lights where the kids frequently cross midblock. The State of California is a great example of what happens with too many stop signs, they are ignored both where they should be and also where it really is essential to stop.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Thank you Mr. Jimmy Van Bramer for this work on street safety. Thank you to CBS 2 for a decent story on the situation. It’s aggravating that a press conference is necessary for a fix to be made, but if that’s what it takes, please, Jimmy et. al., keep doing your press conferences so one deadly intersection at a time can be made safer!