8th Ave. fear - Moms feel unsafe crossing

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Three-year-old Wyatt Smith of Park Slope can walk quite capably on his own, but when he’s with his mother and they’re crossing Union Street and 8th Avenue, he’s compelled to sit in a stroller.

Wyatt’s not a lazy boy.

But conditions are just too dangerous at the intersection to take any chances, according to the child’s mother, Joanna Oltman Smith.

For over two years, Smith has been beseeching city agencies to do something about the potentially treacherous corner – with little progress to report. 

“I feel that crossing the intersection with him in the stroller,  I  have more control of his movement,” she said. “If I thought it was safe, he might be walking.”

Smith said the problem is that Union Street can’t handle the volume of cars that rumble through on their way to Grand Army Plaza and points beyond.  Traffic is at its worst during weekday afternoons, but can also be a challenge in the mornings, she said.

For Smith, taking Wyatt and her other son to a nearby park can be a long day’s journey into fright.

“Even the crosswalks are not properly painted,” she noted.

Since 2007, Smith has asked that the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) re-time signals to allow cars ample time to get through the intersection. Another idea is to  paint the intersection with cross hatches, indicating when cars are in a forbidden zone.  She also suggested no right turns from 8th Avenue to Union, except for buses.

“It’s having a really negative impact on the overall integrity of the neighborho­od,” said Smith.  “If people can’t get to where they want to go, they are less likely to come here.”

“I’m incredibly frustrated by all this,” she added.

Scott Gastel, a spokesperson for DOT, said signs instructing motorists to “keep the intersection clear” are “clearly visible.”  Their addition “was found that to be a necessary improvement for the area, and we find the signs to be clearly visible,” he added.

According to DOT data, there have been no fatalities at this intersection in the last five years, and there has been an average of one pedestrian injury per year over that time.

Better police enforcement at the intersection critical, Smith told Deputy Inspector John Argenziano, the commanding officer at the 78th Precinct.

“I don’t see the precinct doing anything,” she told the deputy inspector at the 78th Precinct Community Council last week. “I see zero enforcement.”

Argenziano said that there is enforcement on 8th Avenue. “This is one of our busier intersections, and we will be there and try and get you some help.”

The top cop held true to his word. Smith said an officer was at the intersection giving out moving violations a day after the Feb. 24 meeting.

“I was amazed and overjoyed,” she said. 

Smith said that overall, she was impressed by the deputy inspector and the cops at the community council.

“But I have some frustration that I  have to be such a squeaky wheel to be heard,” she added.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

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.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: