The city will redesign the Park Slope street where a driver killed two children in March — but to do more, Mayor de Blasio said Albany needs to renew and expand the city’s ability to use speed cameras.
“We will do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers,” de Blasio said at the corner of Ninth St. and Fifth Ave. in Brooklyn. “It’s time that leaders in Albany did the same thing. It’s time that Albany did all in its power to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers. And there is more to be done and it must be done quickly.”
De Blasio was just steps away from where Dorothy Bruns blew a red light and slammed into Ruthie Ann Miles and Lauren Lew and their children. Miles’ daughter, Abigail, 4, and Lew’s son, 1-year-old Joshua, died in the collision. Miles was pregnant, and this month lost the baby she was carrying, Sophia Rosemary Wong Blumenstein.
Bruns, 44, who has multiple sclerosis, seizures and other health problems and was driving against doctor’s orders, has been charged with manslaughter. She’d also racked up a series of red-light and speed camera tickets before the fatal crash, leading de Blasio to ask Albany to enact tougher penalties for camera violations, including the suspension of their registration.
“Those two good families lost children that morning because of a dangerous driver who should not have been driving anyway, and among the many things we need Albany to do is to change the laws so that no one could be driving in that situation again,” de Blasio said.
But Wednesday he focused mainly on speed cameras in school zones — with legislation enabling the city to use them set to expire at the end of June, when lawmakers leave the capitol for the year.
“If Albany doesn’t act, hundreds of thousands of children will be in danger. In fact what Albany should do is go farther and give us the authority to put even more cameras in an even broader area,” he said. “Because why wouldn’t we want to protect more people? It’s as simple as that.”
Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the area, agreed.
“If Albany can’t get it together to renew legislation and expand legislation that we have proof saved kids’ lives, then that is a truly dysfunctional and broken place,” Lander said.
For now, the city will revamp 9th Street from Prospect Park West to Third Avenue by installing a protected bike lane which will sit between the sidewalk and a parking lane. The city will also add pedestrian islands and redesign intersections so cars make wider and slower turns.
“One of the things we discovered is it makes the street safer for everybody, not just for cyclists, but also for motorists and pedestrians because it does what’s called calming the street, it kind of slows the traffic down,” Trottenberg said of the bike lanes.
Lenore Berner, principal of nearby M.S. 51, said the school had lost several students to traffic deaths — and that the danger persisted.
“Every day we witness speeding cars and trucks on Fifth Avenue running red lights, right in front of our school as students are crossing in the morning, at our outdoor lunch and recess, and at dismissal as students walk home,” she said, as a car honked in the background.
De Blasio was also joined by Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets, whose son Sammy Cohen Eckstein was 12 when he was hit by a car. His friends, she said, are all getting ready to head off to college.
Losing a spouse makes you a widower or widow, she said, and losing both parents makes you an orphan. But there is no word for her grief.