First they came for the bike lanes, and we did nothing (besides take funny photos of the protesters). Now they're coming for the pedestrian refuge islands the DOT has been installing on busy roadway to save the elderly from getting stranded in the middle of traffic. At an angry Community Board 12 meeting in Brooklyn last week, politicians and residents of Borough Park blasted the new curb extensions and pedestrian islands that have been installed on four blocks of Fort Hamilton Parkway. Local merchants say the change is bad for business, and Assemblyman Dov Hikind claims an EMT told him a patient died before the ambulance could reach Maimonides because it was stuck in traffic.
The DOT installed the islands as part of their citywide "Safe Streets for Seniors" campaign, but critics say it's not working on Fort Hamilton Parkway, where the changes are reportedly slowing traffic and making it harder for sanitation trucks and fire trucks to get through. And with winter coming, some worry about the snow plows! And grocery store owner Chaim Fried tells the Post, in an article headlined "Islands of Death," that "people used to stop and run in for a coffee or a bagel. Now, no way. They don’t even pass the neighborhood, because traffic stalls at 43rd Street."
In an irate speech at the meeting, during which he contemptuously threw the DOT's report in the air, Hikind lashed out at the pedestrian islands and insisted the DOT didn't do a study before installing them on Fort Hamilton parkway. Here's a study, and here's the video of Hikind bugging out:
The DOT claims all they wanted to do was help little old ladies across the street. DOT spokesman Montgomery Dean says, "The program is bringing increased crossing times for seniors, improved safety signs and additional refuge islands where pedestrians can safely stop if they are caught in the middle of an intersection. Pedestrian fatalities have plunged citywide, in part because of basic safety measures like these." And a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives chimes in, "The Post story provides only speculation—no proof—that ambulance speeds are slower because of the new pedestrian islands. Yet there is ample research to show that shortening crossing times at busy intersections saves lives—especially for seniors. Traffic calming measures like this are islands of life, and we’re glad to see the city building more of them."