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State planning for safety improvements

Brooklyn Daily

Run, don’t walk — if you want to cross Ocean Parkway.

Midwood residents say crossing timers don’t give pedestrians a chance to cross the seven-lane parkway safely.

“Our seniors don’t have enough time to cross the street — no one does,” said Sandy Aboulafia, chairwoman of Community Board 12’s transportation committee.

Now locals are tossing out ideas to make the thoroughfare safer — ahead of a $6 million state initiative to reduce pedestrian-related accidents along the road.

In addition to tweaking the timers, Kensington resident Mike Rosenbluth said cars need to be able to turn without pressure from oncoming drivers.

“They need to fix the lights,” he said. “They must have an interval of only left and right turning.”

Several residents said there needs to be a time when all traffic halts for pedestrians to cross.

“Just stop everything so pedestrians can walk,” Rosenbluth said.

The pedestrian-only crossing times should only occur outside of rush hour, though, said David Shlomovich, who also sits on the committee.

“Otherwise no one will ever get to work,” he said.

The road has claimed several lives in recent years — the latest victim was 73-year-old Ngozi Agbim, who was struck by a tractor-trailer while she crossed the parkway at Church Avenue. Last year, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign named Ocean Parkway the second-deadliest roadway for pedestrians in all of Brooklyn, citing five fatalities between 2010 and 2012.

A safety improvement plan is en route, said a state Department of Transportation spokesman. The state has allocated $6 million for safety improvements along the 4.5-mile stretch of parkway between the Prospect Expressway and the Belt Parkway — but the department is still working on a specific plan based on a study done in late 2013, he said.

The final plan will probably include tweaks to crossing timers, the spokesman said, and the state may also install raised crosswalks and build traffic islands where pedestrians can take refuge in the middle of the avenue.

Parkway roadbeds fall under the state’s jurisdiction, while signals and timers are the city’s responsibility, so the city and state departments of transportation will hold a joint hearing in April to get public input on the plan, but the spokesman said the date has not been set.

The state is hoping to award a construction contract for the as-yet-unplanned project by early next and complete the work by summer 2015.

In the meantime, Aboulafia said she’ll continue working with her committee and lobbying local elected officials to improve pedestrian safety along the parkway.

“There’s no reason for pedestrians to take their lives into their hands to cross Ocean Parkway,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.

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Reader Feedback

Ben Kintisch from Bed Stuy says:
We are talking about safety improvements for several of the most dangerous intersections in Brooklyn. Pedestrians, along with bike riders, are the most vulnerable road users, and must be able to get where they are going safely.

Safety improvements can include light re-timing, but also curb extensions, daylighting, and better-marked cross walks.

Any safety improvements related to light timing should be in place all day long, even during rush hour. Motorist convenience should never trump the safety of people on foot. That is a critical principle of Mayor DeBlasio's new Vision Zero initiative.
We can save lives if we all embrace this goal: safety of all road users, especially walkers and cyclists, is the most important goal to strive for.
I hope the leadership of the Community Board comes around to embrace Vision Zero so there are no more tragic deaths in this dangerous area.
Feb. 27, 2014, 11:04 am
Janelle from Midwood says:
How about looking at Nostrand Ave & Kings Highway? Wanna talk about running for your life?
Feb. 27, 2014, 2:29 pm
Max Jaeger from Brooklyn Daily says:
Hey Janelle, I want to hear more about Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway. Give me a call at (718) 260-8303 or e-mail me at mjaeger@cnglocal.com and let's talk.
Feb. 27, 2014, 5:35 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
Janelle is right on the money. Nostrand & Kings Hwy. is impossible sometimes, as is Ave. U & Flatbush. How can they signal cars to turn right into pedestrians trying to cross? These are both intersections with lots of non-motor traffic, multiple lanes and heavily used. What were they thinking?
Feb. 27, 2014, 6:32 pm
Bob from Brooklyn says:
The article is mixing up Prospect Expressway with Ocean Parkway.
Feb. 27, 2014, 8:09 pm

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