City to play crossing guard along Ocean Avenue

A local panel voted down traffic calming measures the city says will help seniors cross streets along three major roadways in Southern Brooklyn — but construction is already set to get underway.

The Department of Transportation says it will install pedestrian-friendly structures like neck downs and concrete islands, and increase the time allotted for walkers to cross streets along Ocean Avenue between Avenue S and Avenue W (where left turns would be banned); on Quentin Road at East Ninth and E. 13th streets; and at Kings Highway and E. Ninth Street.

It’s part of a city plan, dubbed “Safe Streets for Seniors,” targeting neighborhoods with large senior populations where car-on-senior accidents are rampant.

But last Tuesday, Community Board 15 unanimously rejected the plan.

“The board believes this is just another initiative to hurt people that drive into the city for work,” said CB15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo.

Scavo said the board was particularly vexed that the measures would ban left turns on Ocean Avenue after installing the pedestrian islands where left turn lanes are located.

“Those islands will become more of a nuisance than a help to seniors who cross the street,” said Scavo, noting a recent accident on Coney Island and Brighton Beach avenues in which a car jumped the concrete island and injured a senior.

Scavo said the board has no problem with increasing crossing times or extending the curbs.

Seniors crossing intersections along Ocean Avenue had mixed reactions.

“There are lights here already, so it’s not a problem,” said one male senior at the Ocean Avenue and Avenue S intersection. “It would be an issue for the cars, too.”

But a resident of Ocean Avenue near Avenue T said he wants the changes — even if it didn’t help him personally.

“Yeah, put the islands in! Put one, put two of them in!” he said. “I never feel unsafe, because I run across, but there are always accidents.”

According to the city there have been no fatalities involving senior pedestrians where the measures will be put into place.

The change in signal timing will take effect this month. The pedestrian islands will be built by the end of July, and the curb extensions installed in 2011-2012, the city says.

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