Street Renamings Pose a Public Safety Risk, Bloomberg Says

By Jill Colvin on September 28, 2012 3:17pm 

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, far right, and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, far left, joined the family of Det. Omar Edwards at a street renaming in his honor Saturday.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, far right, and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, far left, joined the family of Det. Omar Edwards at a street renaming in his honor Saturday.
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NYPD

NEW YORK CITY — Honorary street renamings for historical figures, slain heroes and community activists pose a public safety risk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

Speaking on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg said the name changes make it difficult for emergency responders to know where people are.

“The trouble is," he said, "that if somebody calls the Police Department and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got a fire or I’ve got a heart attack, come to such-and-such way,' the cops don’t know where or the Fire Department doesn’t know where that is."

The City Council generally renames dozens of streets and public spaces every year, often after prominent community activists, crime victims and historical figures.

Some are named after celebrated heroes like NYPD Det. Omar Edwards, who was gunned down by a fellow officer while chasing a man who had tried to break into his car, and Sgt. Merlin German, known as New York's "Miracle Marine," who suffered severe burns all over his body while serving in Iraq.

Others are named after celebrities, including Humphrey Bogart Place (103rd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue on the Upper West Side), Jack Dempsey Corner (the corner of 49th Street and Broadway) and Bob Marley Boulevard (Church Avenue between Remsen Avenue and East 98th Street in East Flatbush.)

Bloomberg — who generally travels via chauffeured SUV, behind tinted windows — also complained Friday about the number of street corners in the city missing street signs telling drivers where they are.

“It’s annoying when you look at a corner and can’t figure out where,” he said in response to a caller who expressed frustration about driving down Eighth Avenue and having trouble spotting cross-street names at intersections.

“I’m with you. Boy, thank you!," Bloomberg said with excitement, saying he'd already talked to the Department of Transportation about a fix to the problem, which has apparently gotting worse over the years.

"I think a lot of the signs were there incidentally on all the corners, but when they put up scaffolding they sometimes knock ‘em down," he said.

The DOT did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

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