Letter from the Blogger: Safe Streets

Pedestrian crosses Fourth Avenue at 54th Street. This six-land road, an artery for traffic passing along Brooklyn's west side, makes for dangerous crossing.

Yesterday, an SUV fatally struck Hugo Jansen as he crossed Fourth Avenue near 46th Street. The grandfather was, said witnesses, crossing against the light.* I would venture to say most in the neighborhood have. It’s cold. It’s a busy time of year. We all want to rush home.

At the risk of editorializing, I’d like to ask everyone to wait for the walk signal.

It’s not easy to do–who waits for the signal in New York?–but it may save your life.

Writing about death in Sunset Park, or anywhere, is tragic. Two men shot by a sixteen-year-old in the Park. An unsolved double homicide. A knife fight turned fatal. A Thanksgiving day shooting. Reporting on young men killing one another, one wonders, as Inspector Pintos of the 72nd wonders, what can be done to help defuse this violence.

Hugo Janseen’s death has an easier solution. There is never an excuse to hit someone whatever the light says, nor for not stopping (running only harshens the penalty)–but the fatal accident does remind me of the efficacy of everyday caution.

Fourth Avenue is wide, its cars fast. The pedestrian signal is infrequent and brief. Community Board 7 has already flagged the boulevard’s broad crossing and narrow median as an issue in the neighborhood. Please, particularly on these short winter days when night falls early, look both ways, and then think twice, when crossing the street.

*A report from ABC News disputes the claim that Jansen crossed against the light, stating the SUV ran a red. Either way, the caution stands.

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7 Comments

Filed under crime, letter from the blogger

7 responses to “Letter from the Blogger: Safe Streets

  1. Emily

    What a tragedy. Thank you for bringing this up. I was crossing 4th ave with my baby in the stroller when we were almost hit by an SUV. We were in the cross-walk and had a walk signal, but the person turning onto 4th just wasn’t looking. I’ll admit my mind was elsewhere and it wasn’t until I heard the screech of her tires that I looked to see her fender a foot away from my baby. I was so shocked, I just froze and then continued walking. When I reached the sidewalk, I burst into tears. It was so close. So close. Something needs to be done about crossing 4th avenue. But you can be sure that now I always keep my head up and make eye contact with every driver who comes near.

  2. Kevin

    Nothing needs to be done. Proper care has been taken by the city. As Lisa reminds us, we must use due care crossing. I’m guilty, more so at night when traffic is sparse. I’ll try to heed this warning.

    • I know that the Community Board has written to the city regarding pedestrian safety along this corridor. Third Avenue, also wide and dark, is also of concern. Jeremy Laufer, manager of CB7, believes that the narrow median in the middle of Fourth Avenue encourages j-walking (“if I can just get halfway” mentality). I don’t know enough about the history of safety complains along this avenue to comment much. I do know, however, that because pedestrians are often the losers here, the most immediate remedy is for walkers to take caution. Attempts to curb speeding (which I have seen quite a lot of) seem appropriate, but also a longer-term project.

  3. tee gee

    Much of it goes back to our school system. It is crucial that we put traffic/pedestrian safety back into the elementary school curriculum. “Our” Sunset Park, in some census tracts, boasts more than 60% foreign born. We are failing our residents by not teaching our children & parents the basics of traffic safety. Many schools – P.S. 94, 1, & 314 make it worse (doing the opposite of educating) by closing an adjacent block by the school during dismissal – it promotes the idea that you can cross midblock or ignore the traffic signal. we need someone in authority – maybe sara gonzalez – heck she has only introduced 2 or so bills in all her years in the council, to maybe “discover” this issue and act as a Sunset Park pedestrian safety “czar” – she can work with the schools and local community groups to make us the most “street wise” neighborhood in nyc.

  4. Kristin

    When going to the library, I often ended up waiting for cars to make a left turn (since they clearly weren’t yielding) instead of rushing to get across the second half of 4th Avenue. It’s a very short walk signal; I don’t know how people with walking difficulties even make it.

  5. JH

    Hey people – it’s the “walk” signal!
    And FYI – There was a second hit and run on the news this morning, supposedly having taken place on 4th Ave.
    Within the last 2-3 months the pedestrian signals were adjusted – giving us a lot less time to cross than ever before. I’m one of those folks who waits till I have the “right of way” but still the signal starts blinking as I reach the median. I don’t even start crossing now if it is a steady walk signal because who can say how much time is left to cross. When the signals were first adjusted down I almost got run over because the my timing was all off. And yes, I pay attention to what I’m doing. You truly take your life in your hands crossing on 4th ave, “legally” or otherwise.

  6. Pingback: Bay Ridge Dentist Killed in This Week’s Second Fatal Hit-and-Run on Fourth Avenue « Sunset Park Chronicled

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