“Officials Deny” That Flatbush and Glenwood is Dangerous

The green circle with the red dot in the middle marks the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Glenwood Road where, between 1995 and 2001 there were 23 pedestrian injuries and one fatality. More recent data shows the intersection to be one of the most dangerous in New York City. Source: Crashstat.org

Yesterday morning, the driver of an SUV fleeing a minor fender bender drove up on the sidewalk on Flatbush Avenue and mowed down a mother and her three children from behind, killing a 5-year-old. Then she tried to drive off. The aftermath of this crash was so horrific, even the firefighters were in tears. The New York Times reports:

As the mother lay bleeding on the rain-slick sidewalk, screaming and moaning in pain, witnesses said they could see her staring at her fatally injured son. Bookbags and shoes were scattered about. The driver of the Explorer, Bertilde Gabriel, 52, kept going down the sidewalk along Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush until she was forced to stop when at least one driver who had seen the accident cut off her vehicle, witnesses said.

But it was the last line of today’s Daily News story really caught my attention:

The mom and kids were hit near Flatbush Ave. and Glenwood Road – the site of 35 pedestrian injuries in the past 10 years, according to the watchdog group Transportation Alternatives. The group called the intersection one of the most dangerous in the city – an assessment city officials denied.

The denial is mysterious. As the Crashstat map above illustrates this entire section of Flatbush, Brooklyn is the scene of frequent motor vehicle carnage. Additionally, according to DOT crash data that Transportation Alternatives received from a Freedom of Information Law request earlier this year, during the three year period between 2002 and 2004 Flatbush and Glenwood averaged 6.3 pedestrians struck per year. This places the intersection within the 99th percentile for most dangerous signalized intersections in New York City, according to TransAlt.

What might DOT do to protect pedestrians at these known dangerous intersections? Yesterday we published a photo of a car crash scene just a bit further up Flatbush Avenue at Grand Army Plaza. Though the car easily could have careened into a pedestrian crossing heavily traveled by stroller-pushing moms, there was no accompanying story of tragedy because this section of sidewalk is protected by steel bollards.

While city government can’t prevent or be held responsible for every act of motor vehicle mayhem on New York City streets, there is a lot that the city can do to reduce risks to pedestrians. That won’t start getting done if officials are in denial and refuse to acknowledge their own data.