Victims cry: Slow down Fourth!

Sign of the times: Karina Kahl was one of several residents who brought signs to the public hearing for the Fourth Avenue redesign plan on June 5.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Victims of deadly Fourth Avenue’s raceway-like atmosphere showed up in force on Wednesday night to convince car-friendly members of Community Board 10 that they should approve a plan aimed at significantly slowing down traffic on the dangerous boulevard.

The city wants to make the two-mile stretch between 65th Street and Shore Road less of a kill zone by adding a bus-only lane on portions of it, cutting it down to one lane of traffic in each direction on others, and adding safety features such as Manhattan-style pedestrian fences and concrete islands in its heart — moves that backers say will save lives.

“How many more lives need to be sacrificed before something is done?” said Cindy Deng, the daughter-in-law of senior citizen who was struck and killed by a Cadillac at the corner of 82nd Street on May 2.

Fourth Avenue was named third-most dangerous block in the borough by pedestrian safety watchdogs, who claim four people have been killed on it between 2008 and 2010. This year, two more people were killed in Bay Ridge, but some residents who showed up at the public hearing on the plan Wednesday night still demand cars be allowed to move down the avenue quickly.

“I defy anybody in this room to drive down there at seven o’clock or eight o’clock or nine o’clock in the morning,” said Dan Texeira “It takes forever to get down Fourth Avenue now.”

Others argued that slowing traffic on Fourth Avenue would lead to drivers speeding down other, more residential thoroughfares, and another worried how impatient drivers would react to the changes.

Man with the plan: Department of Transportation designer Jesse Mintz-Roth defended his agency’s proposal from residents’ criticism.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

“It’s going to cause road rage,” warned Fred Greco.

Road rage or not, victims and their family were firmly behind a plan they think will save lives.

“Failure to act will result in drivers continuing to use Fourth Avenue as a highway,” said Maureen Landers, who survived being struck by a speeding car on the avenue in 2009. “There will be more accidents, possibly more fatalities.”

CB10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee will vote on whether to support the reforms on June 10, and the issue will go before the full board on June 17. The neighborhood panel’s decision is only advisory, but the city has a history of following their recommendations.

CB10 Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting at the CB10 District Office [8119 Fifth Ave., between 81st and 82nd streets, in Bay Ridge] June 10, 7 pm.

CB10 General Meeting at Shore Hill Community Center [9000 Shore Rd., at the corner of 91st Street, in Bay Ridge] June 17, 7:15 pm.

Man on a mission: Community Board 10 member Allen Bortnick continued his crusade against the Department of Transportation.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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