Lookout, lady! Van Brunt is hard to cross

The Brooklyn Paper

Red Hookers are in for a dangerous summer, as the city has said it will not re-paint faded crosswalks on busy Van Brunt street until the fall.

The Department of Transportation recently re-painted the double-yellow markers in the center of the neighborhood’s main street, but workers failed to slather a fresh coat of bone-white paint on faded crosswalks, and is refusing local demands to re-paint paved-over crosswalks along the 15-block stretch.

The only crosswalks that span the increasingly busy Van Brunt Street are at Sullivan, Wolcott and Bowne streets. That leaves about a half-mile stretch with absolutely no crosswalks, that familiar cross-hatching pattern that alerts drivers that pedestrians are likely to be present.

That’s an issue for longtime resident Florence Neal, who said traffic has gotten worse as the neighborhood’s fortunes have improved with the arrival of more residents, and businesses such as IKEA, Fairway and the cruise ship terminal.

“We never had this much traffic,” she said.

Resident Michael Kowalski, Neal’s husband, said he will continue to experience a long day’s journey into fright just to cross the street.

“It can take four minutes to cross Van Brunt Street in the middle of the afternoon,” he said. “Traffic here is horrendous and very dangerous.”

At the very least, more crosswalks would be a step in the right direction, insisted resident Ben Schneider, owner of The Good Fork restaurant.

“If we had crosswalks, it might actually signal to drivers that there are people who want to cross,” he said. “Even the biggest jerk in the world doesn’t want to kill anybody when they’re driving.”

Back in 2006, Transportation Department workers were dispatched to repaint Van Brunt Street’s crosswalks on the same day that a woman was fatally struck by a minivan at Wolcott Streets. At the time, the officials said the markings simply needed to refurbished every couple of years.

According to the agency, the Van Brunt Street corridor averaged six reportable accidents per year for the past five years.

Still, residents refuse to be patient.

“It’s criminal that people have to get killed to get something done,” Neal said.

Reader Feedback

jim from brooklyn says:
Technically there is a crosswalk anywhere sidewalks meet on opposite sides of a street, even if there is no paint. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in these crosswalks also.

As long as you're not crazy enough to actually try it. Driver (and pedestrian) education is greatly needed on this issue.

(The definition of an unmarked crosswalk is here: )
July 16, 2010, 10:27 am
Zufechten from Reality says:
The seminal study on marked crosswalks has shown that at best, they do nothing for pedestrian safety, and, at higher speed, multilane roads, they actually are associated with more pedestrian crashes than equivalent crossings without markings.
July 17, 2010, 1:35 pm
Bryan X from Red Hook says:
Its not a lack of crosswalks that is the problem.

The problem is local driving habits: using the horn excessively but never even thinking to touch the brake pedal.

I just witnessed a pedestrian crossing the Death Intersection of Van Brunt / Wolcott (in the crosswalk).

A car slowed (a little) as it approached. A minivan behind the car beeped in anger, then passed him. Both blowing through the crosswalk side-by-side, the minivan nearly flattening the pedestrian.

A-hole drivers is the problem.
Dec. 5, 2010, 11:46 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.