Pedestrian struck on Fourth Ave and 86th Street dies at Lutheran Medical Center

April 1, 2013 Denise Romano
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Another week, another pedestrian struck.

According to the 68th Precinct, a woman was struck while crossing Fourth Avenue midblock between 86th and 87th Streets at 6:20 a.m. on Monday, April 1.

The 57-year-old pedestrian was taken to Lutheran Medical Center in “serious condition,” according to police, and later died. The driver remained at the scene and cops said that speeding was not a contributing factor. The investigation is ongoing, according to police, who said no criminality is suspected.

Ridgeite Stefania Vasquenz, a parent and member of Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everybody Safe, said that she finds it “hard to believe” that the car was not speeding.

“I’m not saying he was; I’m not saying he wasn’t. But according to witnesses, her shoes went flying. He had to be going pretty fast,” she told this paper. “I just don’t understand it. I take the 68th Precinct’s report with a grain of salt. I still think something has to be done.”

Due to concerns like this, the Department of Transportation initiated a safety study along Fourth Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Shore Road. Right now, the Bay Ridge portion – between 65th Street and Shore Road – is being worked on.

Using feedback from residents, DOT proposed reducing Fourth Avenue to one lane in each direction between Ovington Avenue and 84th Street, in order to reduce speeding. Also suggested is a pedestrian refuge island at Fourth Avenue and 86th Street.

Changes at the intersection already were put in place last year as part of making the 86th Street corridor safer for pedestrians. Drivers traveling north on Fourth Avenue are no longer allowed to make a left onto 86th Street.

According to DOT, the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 86th Street is a “high pedestrian crash location” with 23 accidents and one fatality between 2006 and 2010. Also, 45 percent of vehicles speed through the intersection.

In addition, 32 percent of pedestrian accidents occur mid-block while 36 percent happen when the pedestrian crosses with the signal in the crosswalk.

One of the problems with the intersection, according to a police source, is that the street bends there. “Ideally,” said the source, “you want a straightaway.”

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10 said that there is a “big concern” about the block.

“Often times what we hear and see is that pedestrians rush to catch a bus or train and cross in the middle of the block,” she explained. “Efforts must be included as we look at that stretch of Fourth Avenue [in the Safety Visioning workshop]. We must educate pedestrians that they must cross at the corner.

“When you have buses and visibility is hampered, you have to use the crosswalk,” Beckmann stressed.

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