In a long awaited victory for residents, traffic safety advocates and local electeds, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed to install traffic signals near the entrance to Bushwick Inlet Park following years of protests from community members regarding the lack of pedestrian safety along Kent Avenue.
“We need to make sure that kids visiting the park are safe at all times,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who pushed for the installation of the signals. “Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero embodies one of the policy priorities I pride myself on – safety for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike. I can rest a little easier knowing that visitors to these two great waterfront parks will be a bit safer now.”
The transportation department’s agreement this week comes after a rallying effort by the members of the FC Select Youth Soccer Club – whose students play and train at Bushwick Inlet Park.
The Soccer Club organized a petition last year after the death of 12-year-old Samuel Cohen-Eckstein who ran across Prospect Park West to retrieve his soccer ball. FC Select also operates a Soccer Club at Prospect Park.
Nearly 600 parents and residents signed the petition, and the group’s efforts finally bore fruit this week.
“Today’s announcement of the installation of traffic safety measures is a major victory for every family in the neighborhood,” said Jamie Zeppernick and Jason Racine, directors of FC Select, in a joint statement. “The tragic incident that led to this moment is a sad reminder that safety needs to be our number one priority at all times.”
The traffic signals will be installed along Kent Avenue at North 8th and North 9th Streets – both intersections currently serve as entryways to the Bushwick Inlet Park and the East River State Park. At present pedestrians often have to traverse the constant flow of motorists and cyclists to get from one side to the other with a crosswalk being absent for several blocks on each side.
“After years of signal studies and advocacy on behalf of the community, I am thrilled to hear DOT has finally approved the traffics signals on Kent Avenue,” said Karen Nieves, CB 1 Transportation Committee Chair.
At present no date has been set for the installation, but with momentum on their side, the project’s advocates are enthused to see it through.