Safer streets for students

Safer streets for students
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

The city has a plan to improve safety for pedestrians in the borough, and the woman in charge says it will pay particular attention to schools.

Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg unveiled her department’s new Vision Zero pedestrian safety action plan at a press conference at the Brooklyn Ascend Charter School on Feb. 19 and outlined plans to improve traffic safety in the area around the East Flatbush school.

“We heard about the issue of parents trying to pull up and bring their children to school and how we could make the area in front of the school safer for the children and the motorists,” said Trottenberg, who said the Department of Transportation is adding a midblock crossing as well as a median to prevent dangerous U-turns on Rockaway Parkway near the school.

Vision Zero is a program that began one year ago under the DeBlasio administration with the goal of eventually eliminating pedestrian fatalities. To make Brooklyn safer, the department is focusing on revamping the crosswalks, which means altering crosswalk patterns so pedestrians are able to cross without any traffic. The department also wants to re-time rows of traffic lights. Currently, many traffic lights are synced to turn green at the same time, according to the department, and the deputy commissioner said these lights must be changed to penalize drivers who speed from light to light with the intention of trying to zoom through as many green lights as possible.

“We don’t want people to be rewarded for speeding — we’d rather have a smooth signal progression where if you choose to speed, you’ll just race ahead to a red light,” said Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo.

The department is also focusing on adding extra precautions near schools to protect students. Because children are more likely to be severely injured or killed in a crash, Russo said adding extra safety precautions in front of Brooklyn Ascent Charter School will protect residents.

“This will help parents and children get safely to school,” said Ryan Russo.

An elected official said he hopes the department’s traffic and pedestrian changes ultimately end the unnecessary deaths that are often a result of cars colliding with residents.

“One of the things that I find to be so aggravating is when I read in the paper about someone who lost their life in an accident — an accident that didn’t have to happen,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park). “It really is tragic, and there are things that government can do.”

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.