Linden Boulevard Claims Another Life — Safety Workshop Tomorrow

Image: Google Street View
Linden Boulevard at Ashford Street, looking west. Image: Google Street View

On Monday night in East New York, a truck driver turning left from Ashford Street struck and killed Regina Stevenson, 41, as she crossed Linden Boulevard, one of the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn.

According to NYPD’s public information office, the driver was turning onto westbound Linden Boulevard when he hit Stevenson, who was crossing north to south. While Stevenson would have had the walk signal, no charges have been filed — the driver was cited only for two equipment violations. NYPD said Stevenson was crossing “diagonally, outside the marked crosswalk,” so evidently, the police and the Brooklyn DA have decided the protection of the law did not extend to her.

Stevenson is the seventh person killed in traffic on Linden Boulevard since 2009. The street is extremely wide, making it all the more natural for people on foot to leave the confines of the crosswalk at some point. Its concrete medians are too skinny to provide much refuge, and many don’t actually extend through the crosswalk.

Last week, DOT held the first of two public workshops to kick off a safety overhaul of Linden Boulevard. A second workshop will be held tomorrow night at the Brownsville Recreation Center.

The project will examine the 3.8 miles of Linden Boulevard between Kings Highway, in East Flatbush, and South Conduit Avenue, near the Queens border [PDF]. This stretch is extremely wide, with “almost highway-like” dimensions, says DOT project manager Chris Brunson. Crossing distances range from 150 to 200 feet.

Attendance at last week’s workshop was sparse, but the people who came consistently cited speeding as a major problem. At irregular junctions where major streets meet, like the intersections of Kings Highway, Church Avenue, and Avenue D, traffic is especially chaotic.

Linden Boulevard has remained basically unchanged since the 1970s and “looks like Queens Boulevard 30 years ago,” said Brunson. Even the most basic safety features are lacking. Signals don’t give pedestrians enough time to cross; drivers turning left have to cross against three lanes of traffic without a dedicated turn signal, leading to a high incidence of left-turn crashes; in some sections, lanes lack any definition. The speed limit is still 35 mph.

In addition to the public workshops, DOT has set up a project website with a map where you can mark up dangerous conditions and suggest solutions. The agency wants to start making safety improvements this year.

The crash that killed Regina Stevenson happened in the 75th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Inspector Michael Lipetri, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 75th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 1000 Sutter Avenue. Call (718) 827-3529 for information.

The crash site and nearly the entire Linden Boulevard safety project are in the City Council district represented by Inez Barron. To encourage Barron to take action to improve street safety in her district, contact her at (718) 649-9495.