How Many People Have to Die Before We Make the Streets Safer?

On Monday, a 57-year-old woman was crossing Fourth Avenue near 86th Street in Bay Ridge, a major commercial corridor, a little after 6am when a Honda hit her, broke her arm, caused severe head trauma, and put her in a state of cardiac arrest as she was taken to Lutheran hospital, Brooklyn Daily reported. She died there. Such accidents are simply becoming a way of life in Bay Ridge and the borough and city beyond. “Another week, another pedestrian struck,” read the lede in a local paper, The Home Reporter.

In mid-March, a 34-year-old woman was hit by a speeding car down the block, at 86th Street and Third Avenue. “I saw the car coming toward me, with the windshield broke, and my eyes went to the floor and I saw it, and I thought, ‘God let that be a garbage bag, anything, please don’t let that be a human being,’” a witness told Brooklyn Daily. He added “the woman was being dragged under the car as it came to a stop next to the curb.” She survived.

In October, two cars collided at 86th Street and Fourth Avenue; it “looked like a demolition derby,” Brooklyn Daily reported. The intersection “is a ‘high pedestrian crash location,'” the Home Reporter reports, “with 23 accidents and one fatality between 2006 and 2010. Also, 45 percent of vehicles speed through the intersection.” While some accidents occur as pedestrians cross in the middle of the block, more occur when they’re crossing with the light in the crosswalk.

So, what to do about this death trap? Well, the department of transportation recently unveiled a plan to make Fourth Avenue safer, particularly in Bay Ridge where it would reduce two traffic lanes each way to one (with a painted median down the middle); at the fatal 86th Street intersection, a pedestrian island would be installed.

These are sensible recommendations to tamp down a city of out-of-control motorists; from late February through March, cars rammed five pedestrians across the city while they were on the sidewalk. Three died, but no charges were filed against any of the drivers. In March, two expectant Williamsburg parents were in a cab on the way to the hospital when they were hit and killed; their baby died later. On Saturday, a car drove up on the sidewalk in East Flatbush and sent 12 people waiting for a bus to the hospital, including a 3-year-old.

Etc. etc. etc. Another week, another pedestrian struck.

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  1. When I was living near 86th and 4th a couple of years ago, a high school student from nearby Fort Hamilton High School was struck down by a speeding car and killed. It’s a terrible, highly trafficked intersection that needs to be changed.