Lights, camera, accidents

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A string of traffic lights has turned a Dyker Heights drag into a demolition derby, according to neighbors who are calling on the city to remove the signals.

Residents are road-raging against three consecutive stoplights on 10th Avenue at the corners of 74th, 75th and 76th streets — lights that allegedly put pedestrians and drivers at risk.

“People say the lights are going to slow down traffic, but when [drivers] see those yellow lights, they speed up to beat them,” said Fran Vella-Marone, president of Dyker Heights Civic Association. “The lights don’t slow down traffic — they speed it up. How does that make things safer?”

It’s not clear whether the lights cause drivers to hit the gas, but the number of accidents at the corner of 76th Street certainly accelerated after a stoplight was installed in January 2007.

The number of auto accidents skyrocketed from two in 2006 to 10 the following year, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman. In 2008, the number of accidents fell back to one.

The spike put Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) on edge.

“We’ve noticed signals going up all over the neighborhood, with very little attention being paid to how they’re individually and as a whole affecting the flow of traffic,” Gentile wrote to the city. “[The Department of Transportation] needs to take a look at the big picture.”

Gentile — who also attributes the uptick in accidents to drivers racing through the intersections to catch yellow lights — is also calling on the city to investigate the merits of the 40-year-old light at 75th Street, and the stoplight at 74th Street, which was installed in June.

But his requests might be stuck in park.

In July, the Department of Transportation studied removing the light from the corner of 76th Street, but nixed the proposal, according to spokesman Scott Gastel, who, ironically, used to work for Gentile.

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Reader Feedback

JT from Bensonhurst says:
I'm not a betting man, but I would bet the city has never taken away a traffic light.
Feb. 4, 2009, 12:10 pm
I. Anderson from Flutebush says:
you know you could slow down
Feb. 4, 2009, 1:49 pm
Audrey Anastasi from Bay Ridge says:
No one seems to have taken into consideration that all the new traffic lights are too bright, resulting in reducing the drivers ability to see the lower contrast form of the (sometimes jaywalking) and often black-coated pedestrians who may be crossing.

As an artist, with an understanding of color relativity, and an ex-ophthalmic technician with a backgound in opthalmological testing, it is very evident that the bright lights, which can have the physiological effect of closing the iris aperture, makes it harder to perceive anything other than the lights themselves. Couple this with the busy schedules of many New Yorkers, and the uptick in accidents comes as no surprise.
Feb. 5, 2009, 12:14 pm

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