The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Child and Nanny Hit By Car Crossing Flatbush

And then there's THIS intersection

Daily News on Accident


Can't begin to say how glad to hear that the child survived. This is a tough, tough intersection, what with all the dollar vans and buses and turns and pedestrians. The only thing that I see that routinely flips me out is the enormous numbers of jaywalkers across Flatbush to get too and from the train. Perhaps another stoplight? Or as Ed Fanning was working on, and different placement for the express bus?

Jeff Bachner pic of Marcia Forde, who was hit in crash


44 comments:

Alex said...

I cross that intersection while walking my dog all the time. I've seen drivers of all sorts of vehicles barrel toward pedestrians, acting as though kids are tricycles are "asking for it" as they approach quickly, often stopping short just a couple feet shy of the crosswalk.

Unless you can solve for people being a**sholes, I don't know what changes in the traffic pattern can be made to improve said intersection. No lefts from either direction on Empire/Ocean? That would never fly.

What would help would be a cop stationed there to direct traffic - maybe because a 4yo was run over, the 71st could successfully advocate for a permanent traffic officer, at least on weekends when park and garden pedestrian traffic is heavy. The question is, will they bother?

Anonymous said...

It's a horrible spot. Almost every time I wait at the Empire-Ocean B41 stop, I see jaywalkers come dangerously close to getting hit because they can't be bothered to walk 30 more feet to the crosswalk. The scariest one I've seen was an older lady with obvious mobility issues who crossed the street mid-block with two very little kids...All three were very nearly wiped out by a dollar van driver who had sped up to make the light. I understand the impatience factor and the bus-missing factor of wanting to cross mid-block, but if you combine the jaywalkers with the drivers who don't yield or pay attention, it's a recipe for avoidable tragedy.

Though even if you cross at the crosswalk and with the light, there's no guarantee either. Does anyone know the outcome of that Vision Zero map we were able to annotate last year? I remember there were a LOT of flags at the Empire-Flatbush-Ocean intersection.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Crazy addendum, Alex. I got a ticket for going through the red light on Flatbush at the Prospect Park Zoo crossing. You know, the one with no cars coming from the perpendicular? It's a $200 ticket, so said the cop.

So much for solving problems that cause traffic accidents. Oh, and there were ZERO pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Addendum #2. I don't own a car. I was riding my bike.

Alex said...

Why address actual unsafe behavior when you've got a bike ticket quota to meet? Makes perfect sense to me!

Alex said...

Another addendum: I DO own a car, and I'll admit that the throngs of pedestrians everywhere are annoying. But guess what? That's the price of driving in Brooklyn. People need to deal with it and stop being a**sholes.

It's pretty easy to slip above the 25 MPH speed limit without noticing, but it's 100% obvious when pedestrians need safe passage, and as a driver, you're only legit option is to wait it out. Sadly, that seems to be too much for our oh-so-mature car utilizing population, and we need hall monitors to make sure that everyone stays in line. Instead of playing it measured and safe, people drive like hormonal teenagers. It's pretty pathetic really.

Alex said...

Addendum dos for me: I pay for a parking spot, thankyouverymuch. I do not support keeping our streets crazy for the sake of preserving free parking.

Andre said...

Tim, you had mentioned this in the last CB9 meeting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedestrian_scramble

Clarkson FlatBed said...

YES!!! The phrase I was looking for was "BARNES DANCE" which I heard as Barn Dance and that didn't sit right with me. So who the hell is Barnes? Certainly not the Barnes behind the museum in Philadelphia!

Andre said...

If implemented, the Barnes Dance would solve many issues at many intersections. It's not a new idea. And one that has been used before.

Alex Castle said...

Unclear from the story exactly where on Flatbush they were, but sounds like maybe right across from the Q/B entrance. It is mindblowing how many people jaywalk directly from the Q/B to Wendy's at night. Do they not know they are almost invisible? It is only the shortest of walks to the crosswalk but people risk their lives all day every day to save themselves a couple of extra steps.

The Snob said...

People running from the Wendy's parking lot to the train entrance / express bus on Flatbush southbound is insanity. Move the light even with the train entrance. Or something. As said, it's hard to solve for people being idiots, but obviously the pedestrian pattern is not working with the vehicle patterns.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Full disclosure. I've been that idiot. Though only once with child in tow. I felt so bad I never did it again. It's so obvious that you have to put a crosswalk there, or slide back the bus stop.

Ed's idea was to create a new bus stop for the limited at Lincoln Road (getting rid of the Maple one. That way, you'd cross on Lincoln to get to the back of the train. Or walk to the front.

Daniel Kristjansson said...

The Barnes Dance is named after traffic commissioner Henry Barnes.

He didn't invent the concept but installed it in the business districts of several cities including New York City. When he first proposed it the newspapers predicted doom. But after he put it in effect cars moved better and people on foot were said to be so happy they were dancing in the street (during the pedestrian phase of course).

NYC eliminated most of these in the 1970s and 1980s as they look bad when measured by the federal highway codes' LOS metric (which only measures the time a car is standing still, not overall travel time, nor the time spent waiting by anyone not in a car). For in intersection like Ocean Ave and Parkside Ave which is 55 ft x 50 ft you need 75 ft / 3 ft/sec or 25 seconds for the exclusive pedestrian interval. With a 90 second total time, this leaves 65 seconds for the cars. This would mean eliminating one of the protected turning phases for the cars and perhaps shortening the one of the other phases. It probably would still work, but it would be really hard for a traffic engineer to recommend this given the formulas they have to work within.

FYI Barnes was also known for making most of the Avenues in Manhattan one-way and for opposing Robert Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway scheme.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Ask and ye shall receive. I love this shit! Thanks Daniel.

Alex said...

All of the intersections north of Maple are a disaster. And the superhighway between Empire and GAP should be narrowed and given a bike lane a la PPW.

diak said...

At the last LMA meeting, I spoke to Det. Martinos about the chaos at that intersection. The 78th isn't unaware of the problem. He said they're increasing enforcement on the drivers. I have seen a few of stops over the past few months which I never did before. As far as the pedestrians, he implied that if officers started giving out tickets for jaywalking, they'd just be accused of harassment.

Anonymous said...

And, this folks, is a key reason why I think E4F's posters and efforts against the police stopping (they specifically have a problem with "traffic stops, racial profiling, and economic harassment," despite not providing any evidence to support any of the allegations) illegal dollar van/cab drivers are misguided. When you are not regulated, you aren't going to be as careful as you may be otherwise, as you likely aren't at risk for losing your chauffeur's license, CDL, or any other special license or permit. Additionally, running illegal vans/taxis, while convenient, means that there's a higher chance that passengers won't be protected if something goes wrong due to inadequate insurance, etc., which also impacts people out on the street who could be hit by reckless dollar van drivers (and, yes, far too many of those dollar van drivers are extremely reckless, though they are far from the only problem on the road).


~pheightsresident

Clarkson FlatBed said...

P-heights: There's nothing illegal about the Dollar Vans. They have licenses and those licenses can be taken away. They are regulated by the TLC.

If you see a van that doesn't have TLC plates, it is what's referred to as a "Cowboy." These are by far the most dangerous drivers. They have nothing to lose, and try only to make as much money as they can before they get busted. Often when you see a Dollar Van pulled over, it's one of the Cowboys.

Dollar Vans are basically multi-person cabs with a set route. They're an important part of our local economy and a blast to ride in, as long as you don't mind an adventure each time out.

Let's focus on illegal activity, not the guys making an honest living.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing honest about barreling down the street with little to no regard for anyone else in the vicinity. Between their reckless behavior and evil, incessant honking all Dollar Vans should be banned.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

It's not all, Anon. By your logic, all cars should be banned, as many of them drive recklessly and honk incessantly. Yellow and Green cabs too. Plus car services. And trucks.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

And pedestrians, not just the jaywalkers, but all. And smokers on the streets. And dogs. And music. And dancing.

Anonymous said...

Its fair to say that all Dollar Vans are a reckless endangerment to everyone around them.

I'd be happy if 50% of our streets were pedestrian plazas. Slow life down. Keep deliveries and parking to the main streets.

Turn roads into parks - that sort of thing.

Invest in better transit.

But for the moment, get Dollar Vans off the street. And smokers. Maybe they can turn the decommissioned death vans into smoking hovels? $1 a drag.

Anonymous said...

You guys shit on dollar vans but have any of you seen what these "taxies of the future" have been doing to pedestrians lately? They treat the road of NYC as if they're driving on the Nurburgring track. They have been here longer than dollar vans and they still can't drive without hitting someone!

Anonymous said...

ALL dollar vans aren't the problem. Saying that is just as ridiculous as E4F's ludicrous position that pulling over any dollar vans = racism. These extremes do nothing to help the very real problem up and down Flatbush. Like with everything else, the solution is smarter enforcement. Ferret out the illegal, unlicensed vans, as well as licensed ones driving like maniacs, and make sure they face fines and legal consequences strong enough to keep them from endangering passengers and pedestrians alike.

I might, however, sign a petition supporting the wholesale disabling of horns on the dollar vans, especially the musical ones. Good lord.

Liz said...

Not quite true. The vehicles are almost all regulated but there are many MANY more registered vehicles than there are drivers. Meaning most of the vans out there are registered but their drivers are not. Also they are regulated to only make pre-arranged pick ups. All street hails are illegal.

Liz said...

The dollar vans on flatbush create a vicious cycle.

They are needed because the B41 is not dependable and is over crowded. So then the vans drive. But then the MTA doesn't see the need to increase the number of buses or the size of the buses so they don't.

Snake eating itself.

Mary said...

I used to ride in dollar vans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Many of them didn't even have seats. You had to sit on a giant tire in the back and there were no stoplights! It was nuts! The locals called them "Al Queda" because they were so dangerous. Maybe we should start referring to our dollar vans as ISIS ;)

In all seriousness, I've reported a few dollar vans that were driving recklessly, especially when it involved endangering the most vulnerable in our community (disabled, elderly, children). They don't seem to care who they take out. Of course, I never saw any results in my efforts so I've wash my hands of it and now just look both ways, up, down, all around before crossing The Thunderdome (aka Flatbush).

ctrldwn said...

The solution is simple for dollar vans: Enforce the law, ticket the speeders (increase the fines if you have to) and root out the illegal drivers who shouldn't be driving. That's it. While your at it, get the DOT to change the layout of Flatbush Avenue where it would force all drivers to drive carefully and deter speeding and reckless driving. I would like to see ALL crosswalks from Nostrand through downtown have protected crossing. That means no turning vehicles when pedestrians have the right of way. If that's too extreme, then my preferred alternative would be to put up a pedestrian refuge island on every crosswalk on the avenue.

I don't like how some of you are singling out dollar vans, as if they are the only ones driving like madmen. Have you seen how some of these box delivery trucks blare through red lights? Or those driving sports cars who zip through the avenue like it's a raceway? C'mon, dollar vans are at times a hazard to pedestrians but lets not ignore other drivers out there who are guilty of this as well.

Train and bus service are becoming increasingly expensive and the quality of service hasn't been worse than it is now, especially during rush hour. And since Albany law makers wouldn't piss on the MTA if it were on fire, investing in public transportation is not their priority. I don't know what is going to happen in the next 10 to 20 years with public transportation but I don't like how it's going if things continue to be the way they are. It doesn't help when our guv'nor refuses to invest more in the MTA. So if you are looking for better transit that would alleviate our dependence on these dastardly dollar vans, good luck. You might find better service at a popeyes than with the MTA. IN the meantime, the least the city can do is make some modifications on the roads to make it safer for everyone.

Alex said...

"The solution is simple for dollar vans: Enforce the law, ticket the speeders (increase the fines if you have to) and root out the illegal drivers who shouldn't be driving. That's it."

ctr, I agree with you, but this sort of enforcement is exactly what E4F singles out as "police repression." E4F is a small but LOUD voice - dollar van enforcement was actually the first issue that they took up much to the chagrin of those of us who requested better enforcement. Unfortunately, I think E4F's campaign worked because they drowned out every other voice.

Jean said...

You can always file complaints with the TLC about dollar vans, which might help pick up the slack on the lack of enforcement from the cops. I once filed a complaint against a particularly reckless dollar van I rode in, and the company was ultimately fined $500 for using an unlicensed driver. If we all filed complaints every time we saw a dollar van running a red light or speeding like mad, I bet their ways would change. Note that you will need to write down the license plate number. Most of the time they plead to the violation, but if not all you have to do is agree to testify by phone. Very simple and easy. http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/sub_consumer_compl.shtml

clefnote said...

Big thumbs down to Alex, and others who use this tragic event as an excuse to attack their political enemies. You get the Bozack, the Gasface, and lots of other archaic slang that you won't understand. Notice how this guy puts "police repression" in quotes? That's cute. Kinda like how the noxious "Pheights" refers to "alleged racism." I'm glad we all live in a "Post-Race" society where it's always a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and the cops are helping old ladies across the street all day.

There's nothing in the linked Daily News article even remotely suggesting this horrible accident was caused by a dollar van. Is someone privy to info not included here?

Yeah, some dollar van drivers are reckless. Many are not. That whole stretch of Flatbush Ave is really dangerous. Not quite as bad as Quens Boulevard, but it's a tough intersection.

At our legendary cop meeting, even the reps from the 70th Pct acknowledged the use of absurd checkpoints up and down Flatbush Ave. They mumbled something about "accidents," but couldn't justify the way these stops are done. If you actually stop and watch these checkpoints, you might see (as I have too many times) dollar vans stopped for nothing, and all the passengers shaken down. I have no problem with reckless dollar van drivers being stopped. The problem isn't targeting dangerous motorists, it's collective punishment, and constant violations of civil and human rights. Alex doesn't see this. For some reason, some of these guys who own property in the PLG only blame the critics of the police, and never the police.

As far as E4F's dollar van campaign, it's a flimsy strawman. As if the NYPD suddenly backed off enforcing traffic violations against dollar vans because of this group? Even the libertarian right like the Institute for Justice, and the not-so-libertarian Manhattan Institute have been huge defenders of dollar vans (their motives are different--they want to privatize the MTA, and break the union, but they support dollar vans against undue targeting).

You'll accuse me of being a member of the group you hate. I'm no more a member of E4F than I am fellow at the Manhattan Institute. You won't get these distinctions. Anyway, this whole discussion gives me the creeps, for chrissakes, a 4-year old was hit by a car. And probably not by a dollar van.

Severely,

Rico

disco princess said...

re:"Unclear from the story exactly where on Flatbush they were, but sounds like maybe right across from the Q/B entrance. It is mindblowing how many people jaywalk directly from the Q/B to Wendy's at night. Do they not know they are almost invisible? It is only the shortest of walks to the crosswalk but people risk their lives all day every day to save themselves a couple of extra steps."

I do this all the time, day and night. (FWIW I tend to wear colorful items, so I shouldn't be invisible to a driver.)

I made this comment during the public feedback period for Vision Zero (under "mug of mead" http://www.nyc.gov/html/visionzero/pages/dialogue/map.html#186193). The jaywalking has been happening for as long as I can remember. (I'm in my 30s.) I think the city should work with the existing patterns and create a crosswalk here (and maybe put in a stoplight too. It might cut down on speeding as well along this segment of Flatbush Avenue. The dollar vans aren't the only ones speeding along this stretch either.) I also don't think that the B41 bus stop should be moved. I don't understand how that would help ameliorate the situation.

Once I remember seeing a marked NYPD car parked in Wendy's parking lot, alongside the wall, perpendicular to Flatbush Avenue. This was during a period of enforcement that the city announced. Maybe a car should be stationed there more often. I see cops pulling over vehicles on Empire between Flatbush and Franklin all the time; it's not as if there won't be a shortage of infractions to witness on Flatbush Avenue.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Well now, if there ain't a new sheriff in town! Rico, my man, you marry terrific logic with stellar prose. Welcome to the fray. "Flimsy strawman" indeed. Love it. I think you may have nailed it.

And Disco Princess, you're always thinking. I happen to think that moving the B41 makes terrific sense, and actually doesn't cut down the length of the walk from Ebbets! You go down Washington, not Empire.

Then, a local stop could happen directly in front of the garden. How 'bout that! So your limited stops at Lincoln, and the next stop is a local on the north side of Empire.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

But then of course, the Dollar Vans would continue letting people off in front of Phat Albert's. Drat. Foiled again. Barbed Wire down the middle of the Flabenue? It's a jaywalkers paradise, that's the problem. Gotta make it less attractive. Maybe a six foot wide ribbon of wet tar?

Or better yet...Quicksand! I someone say that he assumed, given all he learned in childhood, that quicksand would be a much bigger problem in life than it turned out to be. Might be a good time to harvest some.

ctrldwn said...

Why not move the bus stop down the block near wholesome? On top of that, they can put up barriers on that stretch of road to deter jaywalking. Btw, I find dollar vans to be huge asset to our community. Buses they days are so late and so overcrowded, that I have decided to ride these vans to get around in the shortest amount of time. I love how some of these dollar vans use those acces a ride vans to pick up passengers. Purely magnificent. I wish they would use those more often.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

That's exactly what I'm sayin' Ctrldwn!

And they ARE using more of thos big access-a-ride vans. Some of them are decked out real nice, with TVs and surround-sound. I'm telling you Dollar Vans are a sweet deal for the people of Flatbush, and if you haven't caught on you will. Especially late at night. People, this is a Two Dollar trip all the way downtown! Politics aside, this is an amazing asset to the community.

Now, unlike I.H. I say harass the hell out of the Cowboys and leave the decent working folks, who have licenses and drive somewhat reasonably, alone.

Where I AM with Alex is that better enforcement needs to happen all along the stretch. Though I must say it seems nary a trip I take down the Flabenue that I don't see a car or Dollar Van or TLC pulled over for something. Profiling? Maybe. But you certainly wouldn't have to wait long to pull someone over for SOME violation. You could grab your quota for the week in about an hour and a half.

Alex said...

Seems like all talk of traffic safety turns to dollar vans, so I wasn't attempting to single them out. I put "repression" in quotes not to say that it's not a problem but because it's an unusual use of the word. Repression usually refers to subduing of one's self, not another entity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, Clarkson FlatBed:

I'm a bit late getting back over here. Apologies if this point was already made, but the problem is that most dollar vans (and I refer to any van driving along major thoroughfares picking up and dropping off passengers, whether licensed by TLC or not, dollar vans) are illegal in NYC. TLC has only licensed 481 or so (city-wide!), yet there are many more out there. This article from the New Yorker gets into the issue in depth, including some steps the illegal dollar van drivers take to avoid police activity aimed their way. See: http://projects.newyorker.com/story/nyc-dollar-vans/

To get a further idea of the scope of the illegal dollar van problem in NYC, consider this passage from the article I linked to above:

"During the 2013 fiscal year, the Taxi and Limousine Commission impounded more than six hundred illegal vans, two hundred and forty of them in Brooklyn."

For context, I repeat that there are 481 licensed dollar vans in NYC, city-wide. Yet, in 2013 alone (and this seems to be a reoccurring problem), the city impounded more than 600 illegal vans, with a very hefty chunk coming from Brooklyn.

Given that I don't see how/why the NYPD would be targeting licensed dollar vans (which make up a minority of the dollar van activity in the city), I have to assume that the racial "harassment" E4F is talking about refers to the larger illegal dollar van trade. And, for the record, these are the dollar vans that pose the safety issues I see daily on Flatbush Avenue, etc.; the licensed dollar van drivers seem to be more sane/careful driving in my view, which makes sense as they have more to lose if they get pulled over.

~pheightsresident

Anonymous said...

Also, note, while the story outlined in this post on TheQ doesn't involve dollar vans, the reckless driving of far too many dollar van drivers (and, again, most of these dollar vans are illegal) are certainly not helping to improve safety along Brooklyn roads and city roads in general.

~pheightsresident

disco princess said...

Re: “Why not move the bus stop down the block near wholesome? On top of that, they can put up barriers on that stretch of road to deter jaywalking.”

Years ago there was a local NB B41 bus stop on Flatbush near where the now-closed car wash is. It disappeared though. Why not reinstate it? Since the car wash isn’t open, it’s not as if passengers would have to dodge exiting vehicles. I feel that the Limited stop should stay where it is.

The Dollar vans are a wild card here because they’re not restricted to boarding and letting off passengers at a particular location, unlike the MTA bus. They do it anywhere along the route.

Re: ” I happen to think that moving the B41 makes terrific sense, and actually doesn't cut down the length of the walk from Ebbets! You go down Washington, not Empire.”
I sometimes go down Washington on the way to the subway station. That’s the scenic route for me. : ) It feels longer and the construction site on Lincoln Road does not make that route palatable.

Also, the street by the NW corner of Washington and Lefferts Avenues floods severly whenever it rains. That storm drain is clogged. I’ve reported it to 311 multiple times yet nothing’s been done about it. That entire corner is rendered unusable for pedestrians whenever it rains. Navigating that corner can be dicey anyway due to the SB traffic turning from Washington to Lefferts (including the B43 and the B48). By the way, this intersection's been cited for multiple issues on that Vision Zero map too. http://www.nyc.gov/html/visionzero/pages/dialogue/map.html#208887

Alex Castle said...

I think the real solution, for the time being, is don't jaywalk! I'm sure we all have great ideas for moving bus stops and cracking down on dollar vans (not that I have any problem with dollar vans, they're no more or less a menace than any other Brooklyn motorist) and installing teleportation booths at every corner but anything like that is years away at best. Just don't step into the road against the light and you are not very likely to get hit! To me that's the takeaway from this accident. I don't disagree with the notion of changing the traffic patterns but let's not totally absolve pedestrians of any responsibility to pay attention to what they're doing. My family and I just got back from a weeklong vacation in Grenada -- the Roti was amazing -- and they have dollar vans there, too. They're called "buses." And you better believe everyone knows better than to step into the road without looking both ways twice first.

Martin said...

The barrier idea to stop jaywalkers is a great idea. It works on Broadway/Fifth Avenue alongside Madison Square Park in Manhattan. At night it is just about impossible to see people in dark clothing jaywalking from the subway to Wendy's to catch a bus!

Anonymous said...

I rant about the killer drivers and dangerous intersections too, but it's true there is constant jaywalking at that intersection. It's not the responsibility of the city to rearrange the buses so the public doesn't feel so tempted to do it. Let's not get so nanny state about that. There are many dollar vans and if you miss the bus you can take one of those or you can take the train, there are a lot of options. Including departing earlier to get to where you're going like we do in lieu of risking our or our child's life. If the nanny jaywalked with those two kids that could result in charges for her not the driver and I myself wouldn't have a problem with that. It's good the child survived, which was pure luck, but a broken pelvis could very easily result in lifelong pain and issues. Also, Diak, did Martinos really say that? If the 71st has no idea that intersection is that bad then that proves only one thing - despite their claims otherwise the 71st NEVER ever ever has patrols in our neighborhood, marked or unmarked. Thanks for clearing that up for us.