Looking to Make Bk. Streets Safer

Board 4 Eyes Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle safety, the emerging night-life scene and traffic changes to Bushwick Ave highlighted the monthly Brooklyn Community Board 4 meeting last Wednesday, Mar 19, at Hope Gardens Senior Center.

According to a report from the advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, there were 1,578 pedestrian and cyclist injuries in Brooklyn Community Boards 4 and 1 between August 2011 and October 2013. Five cyclists and 14 pedestrians have been killed in the same period.

Community Board 4 covers Bushwick, while Community Board 1 is responsible for neighboring Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The public safety report was presented to Board 4’s Transportation Committee on Mar. 6 and was included in District Manager Nadine Whitted’s monthly summary.

The majority of accidents have occurred along major thoroughfares in the area including Broadway, Flushing Avenue and Beaver Street in Bushwick; Driggs, Bedford and Union avenues in Williamsburg; and McGuiness Boulevard, Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street in Greenpoint.

All but one of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in Bushwick south of Flushing Avenue. There were five fatalities in the northeast section of Bushwick, two pedestrian deaths and three cyclists killed.

The highest concentration of fatal accidents involving pedestrians occurred in south Williamsburg along Broadway and Havemeyer St.

Along with the report, Transportation Alternatives representatives have attended community board transportation committee meetings to raise awareness around these concerns.

According to the committee report, they “want to get a sense from the people where they feel safe, and unsafe on the streets and how they feel better safety … could best be achieved.”

They plan to hold community forums to hear from the public on these issues, it was noted.

Meanwhile, traffic safety improvements are coming to Bushwick Avenue, with implementation to begin next month.

The city Department of Transportaion (DOT) project will add new crosswalks and greenery, build new concrete medians and add new sidewalks on Bushwick Avenue between McKibbin Street and Myrtle Avenue.

Public safety report

With bars and restaurants springing up all over bushwick, Chairperson Barbara Smith updated the board on recommendations by the committee made to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) regarding applications for liquor licenses in the neighborhood.

So many would-be proprietors are trying to get into the late-night scene that Whitted sees “oversaturation” becoming an issue.

At the heart of this issue are businesses rushing to tap into the fertile Bushwick scene. To open an establishment that serves alcohol, a business must file an application to SLA. The SLA then makes a decision on the application based in part upon the recommendations of the community board.

“I believe they take our role seriously,” Whitted said of the SLA. She also said the community board works to keep the area safe, and that any concerns are discussed with local community affairs police.

“We try our best and work with the 83rd Precinct,” she said.

Whitted pointed out that when the northeast, formerly industrial part of the neighborhood was changing, as not as many applications were being filed to open in the quieter, residential section.

One concern of residents is that some restaurants with permits granted to sell alcohol as taverns don’t actually serve food and operate as bars. Others agree with Whitted’s characterization that the area is now overflowing with alcohol.

She raised concerns of longtime residents annoyed by noise and smoking outside bars or under apartment building storefronts.

“Two or three years ago, there were more in the area that is industrial,” Whitted said. “People that live above storefronts are now seeing an impact,” she said.

But after being in the area for many years, and seeing the neighborhood change drastically over the last two decades, Whitted said it’s not anything new, just an issue the board has to watch closely. They will continue to make recommendations and work with the local precinct to monitor businesses that sell alcohol.

Because Bushwick south of Flushing Avenue is becoming a latenight spot, more places will continue to open within the board’s borders, something Whitted has seen before.

“It’s always an issue,” she said.

Brooklyn Community Board 4 generally meets at 6:00 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the Hope Gardens community center, located at 195 Linden St. in Bushwick.

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