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DOT, Chaim Deutsch, and CB 15 Set Stage for Latest MTA Pedestrian Death

When Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Brooklyn CB 15 objected, DOT dropped a plan that would have eliminated B36 turns at the intersection where an MTA bus driver killed Eleonora Shulkin, indicated by the red arrows. Image: DOT
When Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Brooklyn CB 15 objected, DOT dropped a plan that would have eliminated B36 turns at the intersection where an MTA bus driver killed Eleonora Shulkin, indicated by the red arrows. Image: DOT
When Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Brooklyn CB 15 objected, DOT dropped a plan that would have eliminated B36 turns at the intersection where an MTA bus driver killed Eleonora Shulkin, indicated by the red arrows. Image: DOT

An MTA bus driver killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk in Sheepshead Bay Monday. The crash happened at an intersection where DOT planned to eliminate bus turns, but the project was shelved in response to opposition from City Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Brooklyn Community Board 15.

Eleonora Shulkin, 62, was crossing E. 17th Street at around 6 p.m. when she was struck by the driver of a B36, who was turning left from Avenue Z.

The intersection where the crash occurred has marked crosswalks and traffic signals, with no apparent dedicated turn phase for vehicles. Shulkin was crossing east to west in the E. 17th Street crosswalk, according to WABC. Anonymous police sources told News 12 the victim had the right of way, but the NYPD public information office could not confirm. Police have not released the driver’s name and no charges were filed as of this morning.

MTA bus drivers have killed at least four people walking since November 1. Three of the four victims were in the crosswalk and were hit by bus drivers making turns.

Reducing conflicts between pedestrians and turning buses is one Vision Zero strategy to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths. Last summer DOT and the MTA proposed to straighten the B36's circuitous route on Avenue Z and Sheepshead Bay Road between E. 17th Street and E. 14th Street. By keeping buses on Avenue Z, where stops would have been centralized, DOT aimed to improve safety at a number of crossings where collisions are frequent -- including the site of Monday's crash, where the left turn for B36 buses would have been eliminated.

Traffic injuries and deaths in the area where Shulkin was struck, which has a large number of subway to bus transfers and a high concentration of senior residents. Image: DOT
Traffic injuries and deaths in the area where Shulkin was struck, which has a large number of subway to bus transfers and a high concentration of senior residents. Image: DOT
Traffic injuries and deaths in the area where Shulkin was struck, which has a large number of subway to bus transfers and a high concentration of senior residents. Image: DOT

Rerouting the B36 was part of a comprehensive plan that would have also converted one block of E. 15th Street to a public plaza and repurposed a slip lane on E. 17th Street at Sheepshead Bay Road, one block south of where Shulkin was struck, for pedestrian space.

Deutsch and CB 15 objected to the DOT proposal because they said the E. 15th Street plaza would attract homeless people. CB 15 chair Theresa Scavo opposed design changes for Sheepshead Bay Road.

As indicated in the above DOT image, 14 people were injured at E. 17th Street and Avenue Z between 2009 and 2013 -- the highest number of injuries among all intersections included in the DOT plan. Drivers severely injured five pedestrians and two cyclists in the area from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, and killed one pedestrian on Avenue Z at E. 15th Street.

Officers from the 61st Precinct, where Eleonora Shulkin was killed, ticket between one and two drivers for failing to yield per day.

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