Seniors Are Not to Blame for NYC’s Failure to Make Streets Safer

The white arrow indicates the approximate path of Lubov Brodskaya - it’s unknown if she was walking north or south - and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the FedEx driver who killed her at E. 12th Street and Avenue J. Image: Google Maps
The white arrows indicate the approximate path of Lubov Brodskaya — it’s unknown if she was walking north or south — and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the FedEx driver who struck her at E. 12th Street and Avenue J. Image: Google Maps

In response to motorists fatally striking seniors in the Brooklyn South command, NYPD admonished seniors to be more careful when going outside. A recent fatality in the 70th Precinct is a prime example of how focusing on the behavior of victims is a wrongheaded and ineffective approach to street safety.

One of the victims cited in last week’s DNAinfo story was Lubov Brodskaya, age 90, who was struck on August 19. NYPD told JP Updates Brodskaya was crossing at the intersection of Avenue J and E. 12th Street at around 1:35 in the afternoon “when she was hit by a FedEx van turning right into the avenue.” She died the next day.

The 27-year-old FedEx driver remained on scene and the investigation is ongoing by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, a police source said, adding that the CIS was not immediately requested by the 70th precinct for an unknown reason.

The driver is not expected to face any charges, the source said.

Brodskaya was at least the second city pedestrian in four months killed in a crash that involved a FedEx driver. I asked FedEx about the crash and received the following generic statement: “First and foremost, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Brodskaya. FedEx Ground cooperated fully with all authorities who investigated the accident.”

Avenue J at E. 12th Street is a signalized intersection with marked crosswalks, and E. 12th Street is one-way with no turn lanes or dedicated turn signals. If the FedEx driver had a green signal while turning right from E. 12th onto Avenue J, Brodskaya should have had a walk signal, meaning it’s likely she was crossing with the right of way.

Yet before CIS completed its investigation — after reportedly arriving late to the scene — the department was telling the press the driver probably wouldn’t be charged. Over a year after Mayor de Blasio and the City Council made it a misdemeanor for drivers to harm people walking and biking with the right of way, NYPD is failing to enforce the law consistently. As long as motorists are allowed to injure and kill people in crosswalks with impunity, the Right of Way Law will not be as effective as it could be in deterring reckless driving.

The 70th Precinct issues an average of about three failure to yield citations a day. As of July motorists had injured 159 pedestrians and cyclists in the precinct this year, and killed three, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View. Crash data indicate the 70th Precinct is behind other precincts in keeping injuries low.

As is the case with thousands of crossings citywide, drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks at the intersection where Brodskaya was struck, hindering visibility. A bill introduced in the City Council would require DOT to daylight 25 of the most hazardous intersections per year. It wouldn’t cost much to scale that up and improve safety at many more intersections.

We know what causes crashes like the one that killed Lubov Brodskaya, and it isn’t recklessness on the part of senior pedestrians.

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