Why has the city chosen to place a new traffic light at 99th Street and Third Avenue when, a mere 50 feet away, there is already a light—at Marine Avenue and Third Avenue? It’s baffling to be stopped at a red light at 99th while the Marine Avenue light—less than the length of the vegetable aisle at Foodtown away—is green. No signage has been added, to give us information such as “delayed green,” nor any cutout, and parking enforcement for the new, haphazardly painted crosswalk certainly raises concerns about the thinking of our city planners and the DOT. As a driver and a pedestrian, I often question the placement, or lack thereof, of crosswalks, stop signs and stop lights in this neighborhood; you’d hope that before a new one is installed, the community would be included in the decision.
Wouldn’t, for example, a light better serve Bay Ridge residents at the six-corner intersection of Marine, 95th Street and Ridge Boulevard? The intersection that has to replace a stop sign every six weeks because someone ran over the existing one? And which also includes only two true crosswalks? (And no triangle parks?) Or perhaps at any of the blind turns and crossings throughout the neighborhood, which force cars to inch into the crosswalks and oncoming traffic because there’s only a two-way stop?
I reached out about the light via email to Community Board 10, which was “told by DOT that this was not a new signal approval,” district manager Josephine Beckmann wrote back. “This traffic signal study was initiated at the request of a resident in 2013. The study was conducted, and they installed this signal at Third Avenue and 99th Street to operate off the same signal controller as Third Avenue and Marine Avenue. The reason was to assist pedestrians crossing at 99th Street.” CB10 has also received several complaints about the light’s “proximity to the corner and turning vehicles from 99th Street that come up suddenly on a red light and crosswalk.” CB10 has asked the DOT to review these concerns.
I spent some time on a recent morning observing the intersection in action, and in five minutes I saw three vehicles turning left, off of 99th onto Third, that ran the red light outright. There was also a confused motorist who stopped between the two lights because they are so close together, blocking the intersection. As for operating off the same signal controller, the two lights do not appear to be in sync.
The biggest recent change at 99th Street, other than the new traffic light, is a new condo building (9907 Third Avenue), which has a parking garage beneath it. The condo units were first put on the market in 2013—the same year the signal study was initiated, which could just be a coincidence.
But it’s certainly not a high-priority corner. I went through the collision data from the 68th Precinct, which shows all vehicular collisions, including car-to-car accidents as well as pedestrian and cyclist strikes. In the last 18 months, there were three accidents at the intersection of 99th Street and Third Avenue, one of which was the result of a driver’s having lost consciousness. The intersection of Marine and Third avenues, which already has a light, was the site of six accidents. An intersection just three blocks away, at Third Avenue and 96th Street, which has no crosswalk or traffic light, was far more dangerous: there were nine accidents there during the same period, which is no surprise because it’s a blind turn coming off 96th onto Third, and crossing Third to stay on 96th is a diagonal crossing. It’s a mess.
I’m not asking for more lights throughout the neighborhood, although cases could be made for particular spots where they’re needed. This just doesn’t seem like one of them.