DOT Promises Traffic Light at Fatal Brooklyn Intersection

But Council Member Mark Treyger says he's still "furious" at the department.

The painted right-turn lane DOT installed after the death of three-year-old Emur Shavkator.
The painted right-turn lane DOT installed after the death of three-year-old Emur Shavkator.

A South Brooklyn pol said he’s “furious” at the Department of Transportation’s slow and “reactionary” response toward fixing the dangerous intersection where a truck driver last month mowed down a three-year-old.

The department apparently heard the message.

Council Member Mark Treyger told Streetsblog that DOT promised him on June 3 that it would install a traffic light within three months at the corner of Benson Avenue and Bay 25th Street, where candy-truck driver Johnny Gonzalez ran over little Emur Shavkator, officials said. The department so far only has installed a painted right-turn lane on the roadway.

The child was riding a scooter as he crossed the street with his mother when Gonzales hit him on May 2, cops say. Gonzalez is facing charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

But Treyger, who has sought a traffic light for years at the dangerous crossing, says that even that is not enough. (Some contend that traffic lights do not help in such circumstances, because drivers often speed up to beat the light.)

Brookly Vouncil Member Mark Treyger said DOT shouldn't wait for deaths to act for street safety.
Brooklyn Council Member Mark Treyger said DOT shouldn’t wait for deaths to act for street safety.

He wants further traffic-calming measures, such as “daylighting” that clears sight lines by removing parking spaces at the intersection, and better police enforcement of speeding laws.

And he faulted the DOT for letting the situation fester.

“The community knew for years that this intersection was problematic,” Treyger said, adding that “DOT needs to be more proactive. It shouldn’t just present to [community boards] after tragedy strikes.

“This death was preventable,” he added. “Emur Shavkator would be with us today if safety measures were in place.”

In the 12 months before Shavkator’s death, motorists  in Treyger’s Council district — which comprises just Bath Beach, Coney Island, Sea Gate and Bensonhurst — got in 3,217 crashes, killing three pedestrians and one motorist, and injuring 75 cyclists, 203 pedestrians and 553 motorists, according to crashmapper.org.

Treyger also said DOT should not have to wait for community boards’ approval in order to take action.

“There’s a distinction between transparency and consensus,” he said. DOT should consult with communities in order to promote transparency, but should feel a “moral urgency” to move forward on pressing public-safety questions.

“We have to enter things with the mindset of saving lives and protecting public safety,” he said.

Treyger is just the latest member of the Council to lambaste DOT officials for seeking the approval of community boards on basic matters of safety and road design that are under the agency’s jurisdiction.

Earlier this year, Council Speaker Corey Johnson proposed a “master plan” for streets that would mandate safety redesigns rather than present them piecemeal to communities.

And Brooklyn Council Member Antonio Reynoso has been particularly harsh towards DOT’s consensus-building effort, scolding Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at a public hearing last year for allowing community boards to “dictate how and when bike lanes should be built based on anecdotes and personal experiences instead of expertise.”

“No more community board conversations,” Reynoso added. “Use safety to dictate exactly what you should be doing. It’s frustrating. … You always go to these community boards, and council members give you trouble. Just stop coming to us and build them where you think they are appropriate. The Police Department would never ask a community board for permission to operate in a building if they thought drugs were being sold there. No, they just do the work because they think it’s appropriate.”

  • “No more community board conversations,” Reynoso added. “Use safety to dictate exactly what you should be doing…. The Police Department would never ask a community board for permission to operate in a building if they thought drugs were being sold there. No, they just do the work because they think it’s appropriate.”

    I hope that Antonio Reynoso will be mayor someday.

  • Joe R.

    When you look at Crashmapper, nearly all the intersections with fatalities already have traffic lights. NYC has more traffic signals than upstate and the neighboring states combined. We should start looking at alternate solutions, like roundabouts, uncontrolled intersections, chicanes, and so forth. Evidently what we’re doing isn’t working. More of the same won’t work, either.

  • 6SJ7

    The NYCDOT is hesitant to install new traffic signals because of the costs involved.

  • dave “paco” abraham
  • Ah, very good. I suppose that Adams will be running for mayor. (Can Adams run for both mayor and borough president, and then withdraw from the borough president race if he wins the mayoral primary?)

    Anyway, best of luck to Reynoso, who will unfortunately be term-limited out of the City Council. (Another question: term limits apply to consecutive terms, not to accumulated lifetime terms, right? After a term away, Reynoso could conceivably run again for that Council seat, could he not?)

    The dynamic and engaged Reynoso has already shown that he is good for the whole City. His Council district is partly in Queens; and his office once effectuated a repair of a Queens street on which shoddy patching after road work had left an important bike lane unusuable.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Adams is also term limited out of the BP slot. So yeah, he’ll likely run for mayor but not able to remain on the ballot for BP.

  • Corey Johnson is probably running for mayor, and I think he’ll be a good one. Check his Twitter.

  • AMH

    I don’t see a right turn lane, just a striped neckdown-type thing that drivers can just roll right over without slowing down. The only way to slow down NYC drivers is to install bollards/planters/etc that can cause damage.

  • AMH

    Bingo. Traffic lights are not the solution. Green light = even more speeding.

  • 6SJ7

    Concrete neckdowns or planters slow down emergency vehicles. Flexible bollards allow emergency vehicle to drive over them.

  • Oh, absolutely. Johnson’s recent statements have been excellent. You know how we get no comment at all from the current mayor every time a bicyclist is killed? This wouldn’t be the case if Johnson were mayor.

    It was my perception of Johnson’s likelihood of winning the Democratic mayoral primary that caused me to ask about the possibility of Adams running for both mayor and borough president. I assume that running for both is not allowed; but I just want to confirm this.

    This raises the further question: if Johnson becomes enough of a perceived front-runner for the Democratic nomination for mayor, might Adams decide that it’s not worth giving up his borough president job this time around?

    EDIT: After I sent this, I saw Paco’s response informing me that Adams is term-limited as borough president.

  • Ah, very good. Thanks for letting me know about that.

  • Zero Vision

    the problem isn’t really just a stop sign or a traffic light. the street is too frikkin’ big and the turn radius, even with this paint allows driers to go too fast. polly trottenberg is being dishonest when she says her department doesn’t need more money. of course it does. until it’s properly funded, all we’ll get are these little band-aids that don’t do much to tame drivers and break car culture.

  • Joseph R.

    Here is what drivers think of paint: https://youtu.be/VSllugYEM5U?t=1087
    See 18:07 18:30
    Question: Does hastily added paint at an intersection after a crash reduce the city’s liability by some percentage if/when another crash happens there?

  • Vooch

    “…Concrete neckdowns or planters slow down emergency vehicles…”

    Is your argument that we should accept dangerous conditions every single day for years because one day maybe just possibly a ’emergency’ vehicle might want to drive at a dangerous speed around a corner ?

    really ?

  • Vooch

    agreed – one cringes looking at that photo of the intersection.

    It appears to be designed for 45 MPH speeds rather than 25MPH.

  • Guy Ross

    Exactly.

    Option 1: permanent intersection redesign removing 95% of the existing risk to pedestrians that is a one time cost

    Option 2: Installing hardware which cost half a million with ongoing annual costs that does little to improve actual safety.

    Guess which is being considered?

  • Guy Ross

    Source?

  • 6SJ7

    FDNY ladder units have a hard time going around concrete neckdowns.

  • 6SJ7

    The NYCDOT is legally mandated to install traffic signals (or all-way Stop signs) if conditions are warranted. The DOT Commissioner can override the warrants, which looks like what happened here given the speed of the traffic signal approval.

    Scroll down to ‘How does DOT decide whether a traffic signal should be installed at an intersection?’:
    https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/signals.shtml

  • Guy Ross

    My comment is that the process of solutions evaluation is flawed. I don’t wish to know anything more about the process, thanks.

  • Guy Ross

    Source?

  • Vooch

    to repeat – you want to endanger everyone for years on the off chance that a ladder truck will one day perhaps need to go a bit slower around this massive intersection ?

  • Fire trucks don’t need to go around neckdowns. While cars should never be driving on sidewalks, no one is going to complain if the back wheels of a fire truck on the way to fighting a fire happen to roll over a piece of sidewalk while the truck is turning.

  • AMH

    They allow everyone to drive over them, but those useless sticks aren’t even shown here.

  • AMH

    If this is true, FDNY needs to fix their trucks fast. They should have been designed for residential streets from the beginning. Still, I’m fairly certain that illegally parked vehicles, which are foiled by real neckdowns, is a bigger problem for FDNY than the actual neckdowns.

  • Joe R.

    Unrelated to this situation but the NYCDOT will also allow a developer to pay for the installation of traffic signals at shopping center exits, etc.

    And when they install those there should be a mandate to have them sensor controlled, not on dumb timers. I’ve seen lots of these shopping center only lights going red at 2 AM when the shopping center is closed. That needlessly delays people while also encouraging non-compliance with red lights. These shopping center lights should only go red when vehicles are waiting to exit the shopping center, otherwise they stay green all the time.

    In fact, most lights in this city should be sensor controlled, with the main road defaulting to green. If a vehicle or pedestrian is waiting to cross, then the light for the main road goes red on the next scheduled light cycle. It only remains red for as long as it takes the person or vehicle to cross the intersection.

  • Joe R.

    Get smaller trucks like they have in Europe. The vehicles should adapt to the streets, not vice versa.

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