In Bay Ridge, Police Issuing Fewer Traffic Tickets

Man hit by a car in Bay Ridge
Man hit by a car, Third Avenue, June 2013. Photo by Hey Ridge

It’s a plan with vision, but zero execution.

Have you ever cursed at a car that blows past you? Shaken your fist as drivers blow their horns at you because you’re in the crosswalk?  Raised your most effective finger in protest to a car choosing not to stop at a stoplight or a stop sign? We live in a pedestrian city, but is it pedestrian friendly?

Bay Ridge has big-city convenience while retaining some suburban flavor, namely the car-to-person ratio: 46 percent of Ridge families own cars, higher than many other Brooklyn neighborhoods (like Brooklyn Heights/Williamsburg, at 34 percent, and Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill, at 39 percent). With 170,000 residents, we are a densely populated neighborhood, but we still have driveways cutout right where you thought you were going to park.

Having a significant car presence in a neighborhood also filled with pedestrians and strollers raises the stakes of protecting people on two feet or two wheels. Vision Zero, enacted a year ago, was a citywide measure to slow down surface-street speeds to an across-the-board 25 mph, reduced from 30 mph. Studies of pedestrian incidents show that this small adjustment in speed reduces the likelihood by 50 percent of a pedestrian dying from being struck by a moving vehicle. Speed reduction, along with street and intersection redesign in troubled areas, are important steps to safer streets and sidewalks.

I’ve gotten to see firsthand that certain areas of our neighborhood are treated like The Autobahn.  Was changing the signage to 25 mph enough to slow these drivers down? How were these speeds going to be enforced? Has local law enforcement taken steps to do so?

Scouring the public records of moving violations issued by the 68th Precinct shows that, here in Bay Ridge, fewer tickets are being given out. How is this possible? As of April, year-to-date violations overall, between 2015 and 2014, are down more than 25 percent (to 2,634 from 3,558), with key violations—cell phone use, improper turns, failing to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian and speeding—down 22 percent, to 984 tickets from 1,265.

According to the 2013 April report, summonses are down even from that year (3,166 in 2013). In contrast, the 78th Precinct in Park Slope shows an uptick this year of almost 25 percent in overall violations issued, but the 90th in Williamsburg and the 63rd in Marine Park are also both down 11 percent, showing that we’re not alone in having to ask these questions. The drop in cell-phone-usage tickets, to 292 in 2015 from 496 summons in 2014, stood out to me, because every day while watching The Today Show (hey, it’s good in the background!), I see a Vision Zero commercial with a texting driver running into a man with groceries.

Citywide, speeding and failure-to-yield summonses were up 42 percent and 126 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to the Vision Zero One-Year Report. Why are we not seeing those kind of numbers in Bay Ridge? No one wants car chases on surface streets, but there has to be a way to get speeding vehicles and traffic violators in check without adding speed bumps two-to-a-block (I’m looking at you, Park Slope) and red-light cameras everywhere.

For now, look both ways and proceed with caution until Bay Ridge catches up to the rest of the city.

Follow Hey Ridge on Twitter @heyridgebk

3 comments on “In Bay Ridge, Police Issuing Fewer Traffic Tickets

  1. I am right there with you! The speed reduction is a joke to speeding drivers if the cops won’t enforce it. Fourth Ave is treated like a racetrack by some drivers. It’s just terrible how people drive in our neighborhood.

  2. Only time I see cops during the day is at the bagel shop when they go on duty. Once in a while they sit on 86th street and 5th avenue waiting for someone to make a left turn. There are signs, but there is so much activity with other signs, those meals trucks flashing signs stop lights, it’s hrd to see them. Cops know this and take advantage of it. I can’t tell you how many people ignore the arrows that are in the lanes. I never saw anyone get a ticket for it. Drivers speed down my block and many others. They could never stop for a wandering child.

  3. “certain areas of our neighborhood are treated like The Autobahn”
    One of those areas would definitely be Marine Ave from 90th down to 3rd Ave. If you’re on foot in this area, especially on weekdays between the hours of 4-7pm, keep your head on a swivel.

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