BY KELLY ZEGERS
Middle Village residents recently noticed that something was different at the intersection of Pleasantview Street and 66th Road.
Apparently done overnight between Nov. 3-4, a suspected vigilante neighbor zip-tied a stop-sign to a post that had held a one-way sign, as well as painted a crude crosswalk and “STOP” in big letters where the residential roads meet.
Photos of the unauthorized sign circulated on local civic group Facebook pages, with some applauding the overnight change in the name of safety at a corner where accidents seem frequent, while others shared worries that it would cause confusion.
Overall, it sparked conversations about safety there.
It’s clear that the city didn’t put them there. The Department of Transportation did not authorize either the stop sign placement or the street markings, a DOT spokesman said. By Nov. 8, the illegal stop sign and markings were gone, according to the DOT.
Who did it remains a neighborhood mystery.
“I really think whoever did it probably had the best intentions,” said Denise Carbone, 51, a homemaker. “I’ve been living here since 1995 and the accidents are plentiful.”
On Aug. 23, she had just been dropped off by a friend at the intersection when she watched him inch onto Pleasantview Street and collide with another car. Still, Carbone said she was shocked to learn that someone would try to take matters into their own hands.
“There is no way you can see until you’re into the intersection,” Carbone said. A month before that collision, an accident occurred at the same spot for obstructed or limited view, according to NYPD traffic collision records.
Beyond it being tough to see oncoming cars there, drivers tend to speed down Pleasantview Street to make the green light onto Metropolitan Avenue, a major road, she and other neighbors said.
City Councilman Robert Holden said distracted drivers and those taking side roads to beat traffic add to safety issues. He added that drivers need to take their time when checking for the all-clear at an intersection.
“As we’re seeing more and more people in a rush because of traffic and Waze, the app that takes people on shortcuts or roads around congestion, people are unfamiliar with the road and, of course, everybody is in a hurry and frustrated because the commute is taking longer and longer in New York City,” Holden, a Middle Village native, said.
Neighbors said that an official four-way stop sign at the intersection couldn’t hurt. Holden said he’d favor an all-way stop rather than traffic lights on a residential stretch of road.
If residents are requesting a stop sign, or any traffic device, they should write to the community board’s transportation committee, which will send representatives out to evaluate the location, said Holden, who served on Community Board 5 prior to being elected to the City Council. The DOT spokesman said residents could also make a request via 311, the DOT website, or in writing to the DOT.
Holden said people have taken it upon themselves to address problematic drivers or parking in the past, whether it was putting up their own “children at play” sign or painting their own “no parking” sign in front of their driveways. Not that the city applauds the acts.
“We tell people not to take the law into your own hands,” he said.
As for Carbone, she is wondering if there’s now an intersection nearby missing a stop sign.
“This is radical as I’ve seen it in this neighborhood,” she said.