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Fact Check: In Borough Park, Drivers Are the Real Problem, Despite What CB12 Thinks

12:01 AM EST on March 7, 2023

The streets of Borough Park are a congested mess.

Another community board, more dangerous windshield perspective.

The chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 12 endorsed a driver's bizarre defense of speeding and called for more enforcement against cyclists — despite city stats that show drivers disproportionately cause the crashes in the central Brooklyn neighborhood.

CB12 Chairman Yidel Perlstein called for "ticket blitz" against cyclists and inaccurately claimed that people who bike are "every minute almost killing somebody," as reported in BoroPark24.

The comments during a recent meeting came after resident Karen Chan griped about a ticket she received for speeding more than 10 miles per hour in a school zone. Chan blamed her camera-issued ticket on a cyclist who rode near her car and gave her no choice but to break the law and endanger children.

"More important than finding and harassing drives who did nothing wrong is for the police to focus on these bikers who are every minute almost killing somebody,” Perlstein said, according to the report.

Contrary to his claims, however, car drivers pose a much clearer danger to the area's residents.

Crashes in Community Board 12, according to city records. Photo: Crashmapper
Crashes in Community Board 12, according to city records. Photo: Crashmapper

In Community District 12, which encompasses Borough Park as well as parts of Sunset Park and Midwood (see map), there have been 1,529 crashes since Jan. 1, 2022 — causing 754 injuries, including to 154 cyclists and 233 pedestrians, according to city stats via Crash Mapper. That's roughly 3.6 crashes per day in just a small area.

There were three fatalities in that time, including a young architect named Eric Salitsky, who was killed on his bike on May 5, 2022 by the driver of a private waste truck on Ninth Avenue near 39th Street.

The other two fatalities were also at the hands of drivers, according to the data. Of all the injuries from all the reported crashes, all but 10 were caused by the drivers of cars, trucks, SUVs and other motorized vehicles. Drivers were responsible for 100 percent of the deaths and 97 percent of the injuries.

One area resident said the ever-present danger of cars and reckless drivers is obvious to anyone who lives in or visits the area — and that Chan and Perlstein's comments feflect many driving residents' obvious indifference to the safety of others on the street.

"Of course vehicle drivers ‘do nothing wrong.’ They only speed, double park — often directly across from other double parked vehicles, block bike lanes, run red lights, and drive with the driver’s side wheels halfway in what few bike lanes there are,” said Nina Sabghir, a midwife who lives and bikes in Brooklyn, in response to the BoroPark24 story.

Perlstein's inaction has deadly consequences, allowing unsafe streets to go unchecked like the deadly stretch of roadway outside an MTA facility where the garbage truck driver killed Salitsky. The area where Salitsky died is filled with MTA workers' illegally parked cars.

CB12 should support more safe biking infrastructure instead of assigning blame to cyclists just trying to stay alive on deadly roads in neighborhoods such as Boro Park that don't have any protected infrastructure, said Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Jacob deCastro.

"We need real solutions to keep people safe, not more blame that puts people's lives at risk," said deCastro. "This starts with building physically protected bike lanes."

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