MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (PIX11) — The city’s new stance regarding traffic safety was summed up by Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday morning.
“We’ve given warnings in the past. Now it’s the time to enforce,” he said at a briefing held at the corner of Caton and Coney Island Avenues in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
In announcing a new program called “Stop, Let Them Cross,” Adams said that the city is getting serious about enforcing traffic laws, as well as taking further measures to protect pedestrians. He announced the initiative two days after Antonina Zatulovska, 15, was killed when a school bus ran over her in a crosswalk on Bedford Avenue and Avenue P in Midwood, Brooklyn.
The program features a variety of actions, including stepping up some that had been taken under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan. Among the measures announced on Wednesday are raised crosswalks.
They’re crosswalks that are a few inches higher than the surrounding road surfaces at intersections. Essentially, they work like speed bumps at points where cars turn, forcing them to slow down. Officials on Wednesday said that 100 will be added in the city every year.
The city’s new transportation commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez, says that the raised crosswalks, located at particularly hazardous intersections, should help reduce danger. By his own agency’s count, the city has at least 12,460 intersections with traffic lights or stop signs.
Also part of the “Stop, Let Them Cross” plan is the installment of what are called “head-start” traffic signals. They allow pedestrians to begin crossing intersections before cars get a green light to move into the intersection.
The city will also install more bike corrals on the side of the street at intersections. The corrals are group bicycle parking hardware, which provide a barrier that cars have to drive around, further slowing them.
The new initiative also features stronger enforcement of traffic laws. The mayor was very specific about what that means.
“Drivers and cyclists must fully stop at intersections, even if there are not four-way stop signs, whenever there is a pedestrian crossing, or about to cross,” he said.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell emphasized that police will be aware of violators.
“It’s not so much that we’ll have additional officers focusing on [this],” she said, “every officer is going to be focused on it, and when they see these infractions, they’ll be enforcing.”
There are some raised crosswalks already being installed around the city, as part of the previous administration’s Vision Zero initiative. One is on Ocean Parkway, one of the city’s busiest, and more hazardous roadways for pedestrians. It’s at the corner of Elmwood Avenue.
There were skeptics there about the new safety initiatives.
“Drivers here are just crazy. You’ll see, you’ll see,” one pedestrian said.
However, Fabiola Mendieta-Cuapio, a transportation safety advocate, is more optimistic.
“I don’t think that [the new plan] is enough, but I think that it’s progress,” she said in an interview.
Mendieta-Cuapio’s 5-year-old son was killed when a car hit him. It inspired her to join the organization Families for Safer Streets.
“We can’t just keep saying about re-enforcement,” she said. “We need education. We need to talk to the public.”
Part of the “Stop, Let Them Cross” initiative is a school-focused education campaign, as well as a media campaign.