Anger spurs action: City’s transit chief promises speedy safety improvements to Ninth Street in wake of fatal collision

Change is coming: The city is preparing a plan for safety improvements along Ninth Street in Park Slope that will include protected bike lanes and other measures in the wake of a deadly collision on the road that claimed two kids' lives.
Brooklyn Paper
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A new plan to install protected bike lanes and other to-be-named “pedestrian-safety improvements” along Ninth Street will make it safer for locals to traverse the road where a woman killed two small kids and injured three adults last Monday, according to the city’s transit chief.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Thursday said her planners were already hard at work on the changes to the Park Slope street where the deadly collision occurred three days earlier.

“We will … present our plan to local residents, businesses, elected officials, and the community board next month to gather valuable input, and plan to implement as soon as the weather permits,” Trottenberg said before members of Council’s Transportation Committee.

Her announcement came amid activists’ impassioned demands for better traffic-calming measures along Ninth Street after Staten Island resident Dorothy Bruns killed 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein, and injured their mothers Lauren Lew and award-winning stage actress Ruthie Ann Miles — who is pregnant — along with the other man when she ran a red light and plowed her white Volvo into the victims as they crossed the road at Fifth Avenue on Monday.

Traffic-safety advocates gathered the next morning to confront Mayor DeBlasio outside the YMCA that he famously travels 12 miles to work out at each day — which is down the block from where the kids died — where Hizzoner told the crowd he wanted to see Albany pass laws imposing stricter punishments on reckless drivers.

The mayor sharpened his rhetoric at a Wednesday press conference, where he expressed his wish that Bruns had been arrested after District Attorney Eric Gonzalez did not immediately charge her in the wake of the deadly crash.

“I wish she was under arrest right now. And certainly measures need to be taken to make sure she will not be driving a car anymore,” DeBlasio told reporters.

And Trottenberg reiterated her boss’s promise to crackdown on road rogues during her testimony before the Council committee, saying DeBlasio plans to craft his own legislation to punish careless motorists.

“The mayor has promised to roll out a set of legislative proposals to address the legal loopholes that allow deadly drivers to remain on New York City roads.”

The commissioner’s pledge to make Ninth Street less hazardous preempted a demonstration on the road planned for 6 pm tonight, and although it came as good news to activists, the promise is unlikely to stop the event, where street-safety advocates will call for a more comprehensive plan to improve roads across the city, according to an organizer.

“The march is to really to communicate the message that these tragic crashes are preventable,” said Doug Gordon, who blogs about traffic safety for Brooklyn Spoke. “Its is more about fixing our streets citywide.”

After transit gurus’ reveal their Ninth Street redesign in April, it will first be reviewed by Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee before landing in front of the full board, which will vote on whether or not to endorse or modify the plan.

And the chances of CB6 members willfully obstructing the project are slim, according to the chairman of the board’s Transportation Committee, who said that even if his colleagues try to block the proposal, the city will likely just ignore the civic panel’s decision given the intense pressure to act in response to last week’s heinous collision.

“I can’t imagine that the board would oppose taking steps to make Ninth Street safer,” said Eric McClure. “And if for any reason it did decide to do that, I can’t imagine the city would let the community board stand in the way of it.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:47 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Send her directly to jail.
Do not pass Go.
Do not collect $200.
March 12, 2018, 8:18 am
Tyler from pps says:
I truly hope the DOT just ignores the Community Board and does what is right according to traffic engineering best practice. (I mean there's always a chance the Community Board won't value a couple parking spaces over safety, but I highly doubt that.)
March 12, 2018, 9:42 am
Tyler from pps says:
Henry --
Would you actually like to know how street design can make streets safer? Is this information that you'd actually consume and allow to affect your opinions? Or would an answer to your question add nothing, change nothing, and lead simply to you dismissing it without any critical thought?

In other words -- Are you just an old troll? Or are you actually open to learning?
March 12, 2018, 11:45 am
JD from Gravesend says:
I have to agree with Henry...the proposed "improvements" will NEVER have prevented this from happening since the vehicle was going straight (albeit through a red light).
The ONLY way to prevent the exact same thing from happening would be Red Light Barricades that pop up..figure the odds of THAT ever happening.
March 12, 2018, 1:05 pm
S from Clinton Hill says:
A close family friend was injured by a driver on 9th Street a few years ago. By all means, lets's see some street safety. Fewer cars would be a good start.
March 12, 2018, 1:08 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Henry -
You shorten crossing distances and make the 'entrance' to the street smaller. One very successful method is creating sidewalk "bulb outs" that narrow the roadway. This makes the distance of non-sidewalk much shorter (pedestrians are in the road for a shorter period of time) and the driver's perception of the road is altered -- they tend to slow up because the "target" is tighter. A wide open roadway is just that -- it's wide open and gives no visual cues to take it easy.

No, this isn't a magic fix that would prevent everything. It's a modest change that has an outsized result.

(A double parked car on a 1-way street makes 99% of drivers slow to a crawl to pass by... but of course there are the special idiots who maintains their 45 mph speed.)
March 12, 2018, 2:43 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Thank you, Henry. And old trolls should be able to cross the street safely too!
March 12, 2018, 6:54 pm
dakong from Park Slope says:
Re-engineering the street would not have prevented this tragedy. Revoking her license long before for her repeated violations would have, and jettisoning the "Autos Uber Alles" mentality of the DOT would help.

That said, there are many measures NYC could take to make pedestrians and cyclists safer. Some of them cost nothing at all while others are quite cheap. For one, in other cities pedestrians get exclusive cross signals while all the cars stand still. That costs nothing except changing the timing of the lights.

Then there are a raft of physical changes to our streets that would make them safer: Bulbouts, neck-downs, chicanes, speed bumps, speed cameras, bollards, better signage.
March 13, 2018, 10:28 am
Sid from Boerum hill says:
Many corners have advanced green for pedestrians which gives a head start to pedestrians while all cars stand still. For those 15 or so seconds there is no vehicle moving. The Barnes dance named after a ny city transportation commissioner allowed for diagonal crossing as well. Good engineering makes it safer for all. London solved this issue by having pedestrians cross under the street.
March 13, 2018, 11:49 am

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