Kramer and Hikind Exaggerate Victory in War on Pedestrians

Last night Marcia Kramer served up more of her unique brand of public service journalism, triumphantly reporting that the city will remove pedestrian safety measures designed to prevent seniors from getting killed and maimed in Borough Park traffic. Touring Fort Hamilton Parkway with Dov Hikind, the State Assembly rep who threatened last month to sue NYC DOT over the recently-installed pedestrian islands, Kramer reported that the city has agreed to remove what she called “the offending barricades.” But it seems like in their zeal to run up the score against pedestrian safety improvements, Kramer and Hikind overstated the extent of the changes in store for the street.

According to multiple sources familiar with the current status of the project, the changes that the city is considering will narrow but not remove the pedestrian refuges. It’s not clear how wide the refuges will be after the alterations. The changes will also include adding pedestrian safety features to other intersections on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow said the details of the changes are still getting fleshed out: “We are considering making adjustments and additional improvements along the corridor, though nothing has been finalized at this time.”

Hikind has been attacking the pedestrian refuges since last fall, with a few assists from Kramer. Her CBS2 segments have portrayed the refuges — built as part of NYC DOT’s citywide Safe Streets for Seniors initiative — as agents of “cement chaos” (note: they are made of concrete). While the Safe Streets for Seniors program uses traffic injury and demographic data to pinpoint locations where senior pedestrians are most in need of safety improvements, Kramer and Hikind are fond of using visual anecdotes and mangled logic to make their case for undoing street designs that save lives.

After announcing his intent to sue DOT over the pedestrian islands, Hikind told Streetsblog, “I care about pedestrians at least as much as you do.”

Then he went on to claim that DOT “didn’t do its homework” because another stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway has a worse pedestrian safety record than the blocks that received refuges. Given the spate of horrific traffic deaths that preceded the installation of the pedestrian islands, it would seem to follow that someone who cares about pedestrians would then call for more pedestrian safety measures on the blocks where even more people are getting killed. But Hikind is only on DOT’s case for taking steps to protect pedestrians.

Meanwhile, how many times can Marcia Kramer run the same shot of an ambulance steering into the opposite traffic lane and pretend like the same thing doesn’t happen on other two-way NYC streets all the time? How much mileage can she get out of the unsubstantiated assertion that the islands cause trouble for emergency vehicles on the way to Maimonides hospital, without citing any hard evidence?

To see what the situation on the ground actually looks like, just keep your eye on the background of last night’s Kramer hit job. Watch as she and Hikind tour what looks to be a remarkably well-functioning stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway, standing in the middle of the very refuges they want to tear out, as traffic moves at a calm and deliberate pace around them.