Bus Accident Renews Calls for Bed-Stuy Slow Zone

By Paul DeBenedetto on March 12, 2014 8:19am 

 A school bus overturned after a taxi hit it at the corner of Halsey Street and Marcy Avenue, injuring nine people Monday afternoon.
A school bus overturned after a taxi hit it at the corner of Halsey Street and Marcy Avenue, injuring nine people Monday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — An accident that overturned a school bus transporting special needs children in Bed-Stuy on Monday illustrates the need for a neighborhood slow zone, residents say.

The crash, which involved a green Boro Taxi, came just a month after Bed-Stuy's Community Board 3 voted against a proposed slow zone in the neighborhood.

The accident was just two blocks outside of the proposed slow zone's radius. It highlights the need for slower speeds in Bed-Stuy, said Elizabeth Giddens, a member of the Brooklyn Waldorf School's parent association who helped apply for the slow zone.

"We have a horrible problem," Giddens said. "We're totally in desperate need of a slow zone."

Giddens, who has lived in Bed-Stuy for 10 years and drives a car, said she's noticed accidents around her home on Franklin Avenue for years and has seen first-hand the damage done by speeding vehicles.

Two of Giddens' neighbors were struck by a speeding vehicle last year, breaking the couple's legs and leaving one with permanent brain damage.

"I've seen three cars crash onto sidewalks. I've seen a car crash into a utility poll, I've seen a car crash into a mosque," Giddens said.

Monday's accident occurred when the cab, driving east on Halsey Street around 3:30 p.m., collided with the school bus on Marcy Avenue, toppling the bus and sending six children and three adults to the hospital for evaluation, officials said.

The children were sent to Kings County and Woodhull hospitals as a precaution, a Department of Education spokeswoman said. Two adults on the bus were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries, while the taxi driver was taken to Kings County Hospital in stable condition, according to police and sources.

David Blaize, 65, who owns a building at the corner of Halsey Street and Marcy Avenue, told DNAinfo New York that particular corner was a magnet for traffic accidents, with three or four occurring last year alone.

"We need speed bumps or some kind of traffic enforcement here before someone is really seriously injured," Blaize said on Monday.

Last month, Community Board 3 voted against writing a letter of support for the slow zone, which would lower speed limits, install new signage and add new speed humps within the borders of Bedford Avenue, Fulton Street, Washington Avenue and Lafayette Avenue.

Board members cited traffic worries, as well as a lack of information by the DOT in their vote against the slow zone.

After a 45-minute presentation critics said was overly confusing, one community group, the Classon FulGate Block Association, even rescinded its support for the project.

Representatives from Community Board 3 did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but in an interview with the website StreetsBlog NYC last month board chair Tremaine Wright said locals are less interested in issues like slow zones than they are zoning and land use.

”That is not an issue in our community, by and large,” Wright told the site.

Community Board 2, which represents a section of Clinton Hill that would also be inside the slow zone, voted to approve the plan on Feb. 12.

The DOT said the agency will revisit the plan with Community Board 3.

Bed-Stuy resident Ben Kintisch, 33, testified in favor of the slow zone at last month's Community Board 3 meeting. Kintisch said he often sees cars speed by his 3-year-old daughter's daycare, which is inside the proposed slow zone.

Monday's accident showed what could happen in the worst-case scenario, Kintisch said.

"This kind of thing happens," Kintisch said. "The proposed slow zone definitely should be approved if it's presented again to the community board, for the safety of my family and the safety of my neighbors."

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