Delayed green: City fixing Ridge intersection decades after high-profile traffic deaths

The Brooklyn Paper
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These mean streets are about to get a little nicer.

The city is finally making the dangerous nexus of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 92nd Street safer more than 20 years after a hit-and-run driver killed a woman and her 4-year-old daughter while they were crossing the intersection. The victim’s son is glad the fixes are coming, but they could have come sooner, he said.

“It’s totally great that they’re gonna do something that could prevent anyone else from getting killed there,” said Ridgite Michael McLeer, whose mother and step-sister were killed in the 1994 crash. “But I also feel heavy-hearted, wishing that somebody would have taken that initiative years ago. That corner was always bad.”

Department of Transportation crews are extending curbs at the intersection to shorten the distance it takes to cross the streets. The so-called “neck downs” will cut the distance to cross Ft. Hamilton Parkway by a quarter, and extensions on the 92nd Street side will also shorten the crossing time by a smaller margin, city plans show. Transportation officials will also halt all traffic for a few moments after each light change to allow pedestrians to get a head start crossing the street, according to information from the department.

The latter improvement is particularly important to McLeer.

“That’s great, because my mother was crossing with the light,” McLeer said.

Police never found the driver of the white box truck who struck and killed Donna and Michele Blanchard before fleeing down Ft. Hamilton Parkway. Their deaths garnered major media attention, but they weren’t the only people to be hurt in the intersection.

There have been eight crashes resulting in injuries since 2009, city data shows. The last collision was on Sept. 18, when two vehicles crashed but no one was injured, according to police data. The city designated it a high-priority intersection, according to a 2011 study.

City crews have made less dramatic safety improvements in the past — including painting brighter crosswalks and “stop lines” that prevent drivers from idling in the crosswalk, according to the local community board’s top staffer.

“We didn’t have those 10 years ago,” said CB13 district manager Josephine Beckmann. “They may seem simple, but they make the motorists stop well in advance of crosswalks.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tyler from pps says:
Simple, rational improvements.... but I'm sure there were still whining motorists complaining about how this will ruin their lives.
Oct. 5, 2015, 10:09 am
driverr from bay rridge says:
I am so upset. This so-called safety improvement will probably add 7 seconds to my daily auto-commute. Added up over a lifetime, this probably exceeds the actuarial insurance value of the one or two measly lives it will save. This war on cars has to stop!!!1!
Oct. 5, 2015, 10:37 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In reality, all traffic calming really does is actually make traffic worse rather than better. In some of the accidents, it was the pedestrian who actually crossed against the light and placed themselves into harm's way. This isn't the blaming the victim, it's just looking at the causes rather than the effects to understand what really happened. It's sad that anywhere else, a jaywalker will be fined heavily for crossing against the light, but here, it's not the case. I still don't see why just adjusting the timing of the traffic signals can't be done, but I guess it's because it will make the idea of traffic calming obsolete and the anti-car fanatics will just hate that. Another thing is that I feel that Vision Zero should be used on all groups that use the roads, not just on those who drive hence feeling like selective enforcement and punishment. Just to let you know, I was applauded at a Vision Zero hearing for making that statement.
Oct. 5, 2015, 2:59 pm
boof from brooklyn says:

According to a DOT study of police reports, the driver's action was the main cause in 80% of pedestrian crashes with serious injuries or fatalities. (Not to mention that a car was present in 100% of the cases.)

So, no, Vision Zero should be focusing on the dangerous behaviors of drivers of motor vehicles.

Unfortunately, the City seems to agree with you, which is why Vision Zero isn't doing much to help.
Oct. 6, 2015, 1:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I don't condone the actions of reckless drivers, and I do call them out quite constantly. However, this doesn't justify others flouting the laws as well. Some need to learn that two wrongs don't make a right. Boof, I can still remember when your Streetsblog buddies were crying foul when the police were actually enforcing the laws on both pedestrian and cyclists when at the same time, they were cheering when it was heavily enforced on motorists. In reality, if you really want safe streets, then all groups need to follow the laws, not just a select group. Then again, I know how much you are a big fan of George Orwell's Animal Farms and you probably wish that you were one of those special animals that were exempt from the laws while all others had to be subject to them all the time. As for Vision Zero, I would like to see a commercial where it shows pedestrians and cyclists flouting that laws and mention why they are wrong for doing that, plus it can cost them their lives just for disobeying them.
Oct. 6, 2015, 2:42 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Sorry, Tal, but the laws should be enforced proportionately based on the harm each type of violator causes.

By your logic, 90% of the tickets should be for preschoolers riding tricycles without helments on the sidewalk.
Oct. 8, 2015, 11:24 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Boof, what part of two wrongs don't make a right do you not understand? Nobody is justifying motorists flouting the traffic laws, but that doesn't give your group a reason or even and excuse to do it yourselves. If you don't practice what you preach, then you have no moral legitimacy to tell others what to do, because they will think that you have a double standard when it comes to safety. Still, it would be nice to see Vision Zero commercials where they show pedestrians and cyclists flouting the laws as well, because it will show that they to need to play their role when it comes to safe streets and that it's not worth almost risking their lives just to save some time when crossing. Overall, I support enforcement of the laws on all groups using the streets, not just on a select few. Unfortunately, you and your fellow anti-car friends over on places such as Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives will always be crying foul whenever the enforcement is on your group while at the same time want those who drive to be forced to every letter of the law and make them pay fines that would make them go bankrupt the next day.
Oct. 8, 2015, 3:06 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
You should run out and tackle some tricyclists now! That would totally show them and would be the best use of your (extremely) limited resources.
Oct. 8, 2015, 9 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Boof, when did I say there should be less enforcement on cars and more on bicycles? I never said that at all. What I did say is that the same enforcement should be given to all sides. When everyone follows the rules equally, the roads will be safe and there will be no need to redesign them just to make them safe for a group that just can't simply follow the already existing laws. For the record, I do follow the laws a lot when I drive, which is probably more than you do when riding a bicycle, so I do practice what I preach. Seriously, some of you comments makes Sarah Palin feel like a genius. On a side note, you really do need to cut the impersonations, because they are actually doing more harm for you than good.
Oct. 9, 2015, 3:15 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
The problem is that cyclists don't cause the "same" number of deaths or injuries as motor vehicles.

Also, for sheer numbers of violations, you can't beat cars either -- sit by a traffic signal and watch as one or more driver runs the red in every light cycle.

So when you see precincts who give out 100 cyclist red light tickets a week while drivers get zero, yeah, I'm going to advocate for proportionate enforcement.
Oct. 13, 2015, 11:09 am

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