Did the City Just Blame a Pedestrian for Her Death on Crosswalk-Free Flatlands Ave.?
A pedestrian was killed along a dangerous stretch of Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn on Monday, but Department of Transportation officials suggested she was at fault for crossing “mid-block” — even though the long stretch of roadway where she died runs about three football fields in length between traffic lights.
According to the initial report, which is issued by DOT in consultation with police, Vorda Begum, 25, was crossing Flatlands Avenue “mid-block” east of Ralph Avenue at around 9:40 p.m. on Monday when she was struck by the 25-year-old driver of a Ford Focus, who was heading eastbound on Flatlands.
Begum, who lived in Queens, was taken to Brookdale Hospital with severe head and body trauma, and died soon after the crash. The driver, whose name was not released, remained on the scene and was not charged. A police spokesman would not comment when asked if the driver was speeding, distracted or inebriated when he struck Begum.
The stretch of Flatlands Avenue where Begum was killed has a park, a school, a bus stop and is near a shopping district — and is well known to the Department of Transportation as a danger zone. In just the first six months of this year, there have been 11 reported crashes on the single long block between Ralph Avenue and E. 76th Street, injuring a pedestrian and four motorists, according to city stats.
During the eight years of the de Blasio administration, there were 445 reported crashes on that single block — or an average of 55 per year — injuring two cyclists, 35 pedestrians and 115 motorists, killing one car driver.
Yet no safety improvements were made to the block, which has no traffic light or crosswalk between E. 76th Street and Ralph Avenue — not even at the entrance of the South Shore High School (below):
Crashes are a terrible fact of life at South Shore High School. As Streetsblog recently reported, there have been 93 school-day crashes on the streets immediately surrounding the school since 2015, more evidence of the dangers faced by pedestrians in the area.
The DOT did not immediately respond to a question about why the agency chose to highlight the pedestrian’s alleged behavior before the crash, instead pointing out that its media releases are based on information “prepared by” the NYPD.
“NYPD handles all criminal investigations, while NYC DOT reviews the street design at the locations of these crashes,” said the statement from the agency. The crash information, however, is sent to the media from a DOT email address, yet included no information about the dangerous street design of Flatlands Avenue.