KENSINGTON — If you're going for a stroll in Kensington, don't take Ocean Parkway.
The six-lane boulevard is the neighborhood's most dangerous for pedestrians, with 48 people injured by cars there in the past two years, according to a DNAinfo New York review of the NYPD's collision data.
Overall in Kensington, 129 pedestrians were injured in 2013 and 2014. One person, 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin, was killed, at East Seventh Street and Caton Avenue.
The intersection where the most pedestrians were hurt was Ocean Parkway and 18th Avenue, right next to P.S. 134, where 11 people were injured in 2013 and 2014, according to NYPD data.
"Every month we have one — once a month, without fail," said resident John Michalko, who's lived at the busy corner for 37 years. "It's a crazy intersection."
A few blocks south, at Ocean Parkway and Foster Avenue, 10 pedestrians were injured in the last two years.
The troubling numbers underscore what locals have been saying for years: Ocean Parkway is a risky place for pedestrians. The road routinely appears on a list of the city's worst streets for walkers compiled by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
“Every neighborhood has that main thoroughfare where there are a lot of problems, and ours is Ocean Parkway,” said Community Board 12 District Manager Barry Spitzer. “It connects all of south Brooklyn and it's the main corridor that takes you to Manhattan or North Brooklyn. It’s six lanes, plus service roads on both sides. It's always been an issue."
But there's reason for hope: safety upgrades are in the works to target some of Kensington's most dangerous crossings, along Ocean Parkway and elsewhere in the neighborhood.
The city Department of Transportation just unveiled a broad set of safety improvements for streets in the northern part of Kensington, especially near P.S./I.S. 437, P.S. 230 and P.S. 130.
A DOT spokesman added that the agency will release “Pedestrian Safety Action Plans” next month for Brooklyn and other boroughs. The plans were developed using crash data and will lead to “state-of-the-art corridor and intersection improvements" throughout the city, the spokesman said.
Even more improvements are coming to Kensington starting this spring, when the state Department of Transportation implements upgrades along Ocean Parkway.
A state DOT study of the parkway found that it's plagued by "aggressive drivers" who don't yield to pedestrians. DOT also found that drivers turning onto Ocean Parkway are a factor in nearly half of crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists.
The safety improvements include new digital signs warning drivers of how fast they're going and a ban on left turns at several crossings, including Avenue C, Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Avenue and 18th Avenue. The agency will also install pedestrian countdown clocks in some places, repaint crosswalks and put in new traffic signals at four service road crossings along Ocean Parkway.
Construction is scheduled to start in April and finish by 2017, a state DOT spokeswoman said.
“Going forward, I'm very optimistic,” said Spitzer, the Community Board 12 district manager. “Major improvements are coming to Ocean Parkway. We’re very excited about it.”
He noted that the safety improvements should put Ocean Parkway on a path to becoming what it was meant to be — a neighborhood asset, not a threat.
The street was designed in 1866 by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central and Prospect parks, as a grand greenway modeled after European roadways. In 1894, it became home to the country's first bike path.
“It’s a very nice area and it should be much safer than it currently is,” Spitzer said. “After all these improvements are done, I envision it becoming a safe thoroughfare — a place to hang out, ride your bike, sit on a bench and read a book. That's what it should be, that's what it was designed to be, and I'm confident that's what it will be."