Monday’s Headlines: Mourning in East New York Edition

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stands near candles honoring Payson Lott, one of two school-age kids killed last week in East New York. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stands near candles honoring Payson Lott, one of two school-age kids killed last week in East New York. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Residents of East New York, joined by Borough President Eric Adams and activists from Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives mourned two children, killed in separate incidents two days apart last week.

Speakers issued many of the same demands that are frequently heard after eminently preventable deaths — demands that the mayor extend his life-saving street safety redesigns to all neighborhoods, not just the wealthy.

Rhondelle Booker
Rhondelle Booker.

Rhondelle Booker, whose sister Hermanda was killed as she walked in Brooklyn in 2017, was particularly eloquent: “These deaths are preventable when streets are designed for people, not cars — and not just in the fanciest neighborhoods,” she said as she held a picture of her sister. “Why is Bill de Blasio not with us today? Why has he failed this community again? We demand he make a big investment in this heartbroken community.” (amNY provided full coverage. Clarence Eckerson Jr. of Streetfilms did a rough cut, which is embedded below, too).

But the death of Payson Lott, who was killed by a reckless driver as he crossed Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, can’t entirely be laid on the city. Indeed, in 2014 [PDF], the Department of Transportation eliminated one car lane on Blake Avenue as part of several traffic-calming measures to slow down drivers. But it hasn’t worked as planned, resident George Weston, told Streetsblog. Drivers are forced to drive slower, yes, but then when they see the green light, “they gun it as fast as they can.”

So we asked Adams whether the culprit here was truly the mayor’s Vision Zero team — or the people who can’t be patient behind the wheel. He agreed that drivers need to slow down — and need to be held accountable when they don’t.

“A law on the books is a useless law if it’s not enforced,” he said, calling for more speed cameras. “The police department must aggressively enforce the speed limit. Everyone can’t be in a rush. Proper enforcement can send the right message.”

Who’s going to enforce it? Cops? Reminder: Streetsblog’s investigation last year into the driving records of off-duty NYPD employees, we found that 41 percent had received camera-issued multiple moving violations themselves. More cameras, please.

In other news yesterday:

  • Someone explain to us why the MTA is spending $18 million to accommodate more cars on the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. Shouldn’t the agency be spending that money on, say, more express buses so Staten Islanders don’t drive so much? (NYDN)
  • Welcome to the plastic bag ban! The Times did a story and nice photo farewell to the ubiquitous scourge (and urban garbage can liner). The Post went full “old man shaking fist at cloud.”
  • Is the Kosciuszko Bridge vulnerable to a terror attack — or is this just what rival companies allege in bizarre court papers that the NY Post runs with?
  • Who needs to study the best way to repair the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, says the Post. Why not just spend $4 billion without further discussion?
  • Noah Goldberg had a great scoop for the Daily News: The family of a motorcyclist who died in a crash is suing the city claiming the man was driving so fast only because he was being chased by cops, who are trying to cover up their role in the crash, according to court papers.
  • Police say a man deliberately jumped in front of a bus on Sunday in Queens. (NYDN)
  • An Uber driver was brutally beaten. (NY Post)
  • Car-loving Brooklyn Community Board 1 is at it again, this time complaining that a Citi Bike rack is causing crashes. Seriously, read this News12 story and replace the word “cars” for all references to bikes and you’ll see what’s really going on. Cars are dangerous to bikes. Bikes are not dangerous to cars, people.
  • In case you missed it, Gothamist highlighted another solid proposal from State Senator Andrew Gounardes, beyond the one we covered last week.
  • In a much-discussed, but finally released TedX talk, “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz says beware of driverless cars. The big takeaway? Our car-dominated society is going to make the same mistakes it made with the advent of cars in. the first place.

After 2 Children Die Walking to School in 3 Days, East New York Residents Demand Safer Streets from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

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