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Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won't you give it some company?

Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won’t you give it some company?

Back in April, the city launched an interactive Vision Zero map for neighbors to get involved with making street conditions safer. The map allows you to pinpoint problematic roads and intersections, reporting a range of conditions including double parking, frequent speeding, irresponsible cycling or even crosswalk timers that take too darn long.

Reader Daniil S. put it back on our radar this week, causing us to note that, well, no one in Southern Brooklyn appears to be paying attention. Dots cover the map in Manhattan and northern Brooklyn, but scrawl down below Avenue H and there’s hardly a single report.

That’s cause for concern, because its the frequent cry of both drivers and pedestrians in Southern Brooklyn that the Department of Transportation goes ahead and implements plans from the top down, putting in place ideas that may work well for midtown Manhattan but not so much for quiet, residential and car-dependent neighborhoods. And, yet, when given the opportunity to map out where the real problems are… nothing?

Daniil writes, “If you can encourage everyone on the blog to tag our intersections and we outnumber the other neighborhoods in the city in complaint count, it might just make our streets a bit safer.” 

Indeed. Let’s give that a try. Find the map here.

The following is a press release from the MTA:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is reminding customers that if they have lost an item on a train or bus, or at a station, they can submit a lost property claim free of charge and directly to the MTA online, by phone, or in person. There is no charge for submitting a lost property claim to the MTA’s lost and found offices.

Recently, MTA customers have complained that online searches have directed them to an official-looking website,, which asks for personal information, then uses that information to generate a bill to be paid online by credit card.

The website implies that it contacts the MTA on behalf of the customers seeking lost property. However, the MTA’s lost and found offices do not do business with or any other third party company claiming to act on behalf of people who have reported lost items. The MTA’s lost and found offices return lost items only to those claimants who can identify that they are the rightful owners of the property.

“Anyone looking to submit a claim for lost property needs to go through the MTA’s official website,” said MTA Police Chief Michael Coan. “There is no charge to submit a claim to any of the MTA’s lost and found units.”

The MTA Police Department has launched a criminal investigation into the website. Because the website is also soliciting information from taxi and airport customers, and the MTA has notified the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The MTA’s lost and found offices are accessible from this web page:

The MTA maintains three units that serve as repositories for personal items that are left on trains and buses, or at stations. MTA New York City Transit’s Lost Property Unit, located at the 34th Street-Penn Station stop on the ACE lines, handles items left on the New York City Subway, New York City Buses, and Staten Island Railway. MTA Long Island Rail Road has a lost and found office in Penn Station, and MTA Metro-North Railroad has a lost and found office at Grand Central Terminal.

In 2013, the MTA’s lost and found offices received 67,320 lost items, and returned 34,572 of them to their owners while fielding more than 73,000 queries about lost items from customers.

Source: DOT

Streetsblog managing editor Brad Aaron wrote a post last week claiming that a Department of Transportation rule change fought for by Councilman Vincent Gentile is making streets less safe, but the councilman is standing by the decision.

The rule in question was adopted in 2009, allowing drivers to park at T intersections, and making it legal to block crosswalks where there are no traffic signals, painted lines or stop signs.

In addition to creating more parking spaces, Gentile argued at the time that it made the streets safer for pedestrians, since there were no indications to drivers that a crosswalk was there and thus no reason to slow down.

But according to Aaron, the unmarked crosswalks are statistically safer, and by allowing cars to block them off the city is pushing pedestrians to more dangerous crosswalks.

[A]ccording to an NYU Langone Medical Center study of Bellevue trauma patients, more pedestrians are injured while crossing in crosswalks with “walk” signals than while crossing mid-block or against the signal. Data mapped by Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat show that, between 1995 and 2009, there were no pedestrian-involved crashes at Seaman and Payson, while the two closest signalized intersections saw a handful of injury crashes each.

Has blocking unmarked crosswalks — which are natural walking paths — stopped people from using them? No, but it has worsened sight lines, making it harder for drivers and pedestrians to see each other. What the city should be doing is daylighting space next to pedestrian curb ramps — the opposite of the Gentile rule.

The data cited appears to suggest that unmarked crosswalks or crossing in the middle of the street is safer, but a closer look at the source material seems to upend that. The data was pulled from 1,400 pedestrians and cyclists treated at Bellevue for collisions between 2008 and 2011. As the New York Times reported:

Of those injured on the street, 44 percent used a crosswalk, with the signal, compared with 23 percent who crossed midblock and 9 percent who crossed against the signal.

But the research makes no correlation, and seems to only suggest that pedestrian-related accidents happen where pedestrians are more likely to be – ie. marked crosswalks with a signal. It does not suggest that crossing mid-block is safer, just that less people were treated for injuries sustained doing so – which makes sense since fewer people are likely to do that in the “busiest corridors” in Manhattan and western Brooklyn, where most of the patients were injured.

Aaron didn’t turn to Gentile for a response, so we did.

Back in 2008, Department of Transportation engineers took a long hard look at unregulated “T” intersections. Even though these areas had been outfitted with pedestrian ramps, there was no denying their dangerous design due to the lack of marked crosswalks, signals, signage or other traffic control devices. In addition, inadequate sight distances made these intersections extremely unsafe, especially for the disabled. As a result of these findings, the Dept. of Transportation amended the rules which also allowed for drivers to park in these newly redefined areas. Since then, I have done my best to promote and publicize the existence of this obscure rule change because it first and foremost helps keeps pedestrians safe and creates a few more parking spots in the process. I continue to work closely with the Dept. of Transportation towards making our streets a safe place where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers can all co-exist responsibly.

The Mengels shooting gallery now in operation at Coney Island USA (Source: CIUSA/Facebook)

The Mangels shooting gallery now in operation at Coney Island USA (Source: CIUSA/Facebook)

Green-Wood Cemetery historian Jeff Richman is using Kickstarter to raise money for an exhibit on William F. Mangels, a German immigrant and inventor based in Coney Island who was a leading developer of America’s amusement parks at the turn of the last century. The project goal is to raise $17,500 by July 27, of which $3,291 has been donated so far.

Here’s the video for the project:

The proposed exhibit, titled “William F. Mangels: Amusing the Masses on Coney Island and Beyond” will be installed at Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel, and will feature “real pieces of Mangel’s rides and games – a carousel horse, a 22nd-foot-long shooting gallery, and actual Whip cars and original sketches, in Mangels’s hand, of The Tickler,” in addition to historic photography, video, and written correspondence.

If the Mangels name sounds familiar, it’s because we wrote about him last year when carnies unearthed a World War II-era shooting gallery behind one of their booths while cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy. The gallery has been restored and now sits next to Coney Island USA as part of their living museum. For $5, you get 100 shots at nailing metal tanks, airplanes and soldiers as they zip around the booth.

The Daily News reports that Richman spent the last 10 years collecting materials from all over the country for the exhibit—and although Green-Wood Cemetery has been curating exhibits since 1998, this would be the first ever dedicated entirely to one person.

The funds raised would offset the costs of graphics, lighting, monitors, framing, shipping, and video necessary to give Mangels his much-deserved tribute—and as is customary with Kickstarter fundraisers, backers will be rewarded with a variety of handsome prizes, including exclusive merchandise and even private tours for the most generous supporters.

- Sam Shokin

Source: fawlty128 via

A plan is in the works for a new upper deck on the Verrazano Bridge, which aims to make the nation’s longest suspension bridge to be “pothole-proof.”

The deck, slated for construction this fall, will be made of a “lighter steel orthotropic material “topped with a two-inched layer of modified asphalt knows as Rosphalt to replace the original concrete.

Staten Island Advance reports that the new material will be relatively waterproof and less prone to corrosion than its concrete predecessor.

“Classic, bone-jarring deep potholes – requiring extensive repair which may develop over time on concrete roadways or asphalt on grade pavements – cannot develop on an orthotropic deck,” Senior Project Engineer Carl Redmond explained to the Advance.
Rospholt, made by Chase Corporation, was used on bridge decks in Milwaukee in the past and reportedly saved the state thousands of hours and dollars in repair time and costs.

From Chase Corporation’s website: “Rospholt is a unique, concentrated thermoplastic additive which creates a waterproofing and wearing surface which is resistant to both rutting and shoving. It uses standard paving equipment with a single step operation making the installation quick and easy.”

Despite all this, Staten Island’s MTA representative Alan Cappelli is unconvinced: “We are living in the worst pothole place in the U.S.,” said Cappelli. “If it works, I will be overjoyed. I do hope the new surface lives up to its advertisement, but I remain heartily skeptical. I have lived through a lifetime of having my automobile smacked around. To break down on the bridge is a scary place to be.”

A pothole-free Verazzano is a safer Verazzano. Here’s to hoping for the best.

– Sam Shokin

Source: Google Mpas

Source: Google Mpas

A 22-year-old employee of Moisha’s Discount Supermarket (325 Avenue M) was killed last night when a forklift rolled backwards and crushed him against a wall.

Gustavo Tapia, of Brighton Beach, was pushing a broken forklift up a ramp to a parking deck using a pallet stacker at approximately 6:00 p.m. yesterday. He lost control of the forklift, and it rolled backwards down the ramp, pinning him against a wall.

He suffered serious chest injuries, and was taken to Kings County Hospital where he later died.

An investigation is ongoing.

[via Daily News, New York Post, News 12 and CBS News]

Source: jeweledlion/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David G. Greenfield urges all parents with children turning age four in 2014 to take advantage of the expanded free Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) programs being offered by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) in local yeshivas and other community organizations this upcoming school year. Parents must apply for a spot before the June 26th enrollment deadline.

UPK is a free early education program available to all children in New York City who turn four years old in 2014.  The program is offered either as a half-day (two hours and 30 minutes) or full-day (six hours and 20 minutes). Half-day programs may take place in the morning or afternoon. UPK is offered at public schools but also at community based early childhood centers, such as yeshivas. Yeshivas across Borough Park and Flatbush have been offering limited UPK programs for years. This upcoming school year will bring more available seats to these neighborhoods than ever before.

Expanding New York City’s UPK programs was a key goal for Mayor de Blasio upon taking office this January. Before the program’s roll out, Councilman Greenfield worked closely with the mayor to ensure that the unique needs of the yeshiva community were met. The DOE is working to put the 300 million dollars the state government allocated to expanding UPK into action, creating programs for children at both public schools and other educational institutions such as yeshivas. Now is the time for parents to take advantage of this expanded opportunity for childcare and education.

“The benefits children receive when enrolled in early education programs are immeasurable. Universal Pre-Kindergarten provides the opportunity for children to develop and strengthen the educational foundations needed to succeed in upcoming school years,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield, “I strongly urge every parent to take advantage of this program for their children’s future and apply today.”

The open enrollment period for UPK will end on Thursday, June 26th. Parents can continue to enroll their children until programs are full, but those who enroll by this date will be more likely to receive their first choice placement. Most UPK providers admit students on a first-come, first-served basis, and some programs do reserve seats for children already enrolled at the centers as three-year-olds. Local organizations with open enrollment include Yeled V’Yalda located at 1257 38th Street.

Parents may find a full and current list of centers that offer UPK by calling 311 and providing their zip codes or street address or online at Once parents have chosen a UPK provider they can apply for placement online at  For more information or questions on how to enroll parents may call 311 or contact an Early Childhood Education Field Office.  The Brooklyn/Staten Island office contact is: Chris McKay at 718-643-1173 x or Carol Berg at

The next meeting of the 62nd Precinct Community Council will be held tonight, June 10, 7:30 p.m. at Msgr. Scanlon Center at St. Finbar’s RC Church, 138 Bay 20th Street at Bath Avenue.

At the meeting, the Michael J. Ferraro Community Service Award will be presented to graduating students. Also, the George Brossard Memorial Award will be presented to Auxiliary Sgt. John Senia and Auxiliary Police Officer of the Year honors will be presented to Auxiliary P.O. David Lei.

For more info, call (718) 236-2501.

(Source: Ardor New York)

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

One Bedroom in Mapleton
Price: $1,320
Location: 64th Street and 24th Avenue
Description: Here’s a new one: an L-shaped kitchen. The apartment has new hardwood floors and based on the pictures it gets a lot of natural sunlight. The realtor lists no pets and no smokers in the same bullet point; leading me to the sound conclusion that she views them on the same level.
Contact: Sophia Kapassakis, Ardor New York Real Estate,  (646) 266-7598

One “Semi-Modern” Bedroom and a Tree in Dyker Heights
Price: $1,150
Location: 1200 71st Street
Description: Have you always wanted to sound like an absolute pretentious MOMA loving wanna-be? Well, here’s your chance.This apartment gives you the chance to tell your visiting friends that this is a “Semi-Modern” bedroom and of course you’ll have a Pollock somewhere in the living room. Oh wait, you’re in Dyker.
Contact:Steven Ramos, Four Seasons Realty Company, (347) 585-1594

Four Bedrooms in Borough Park
Price: $3,000
Location: New Utrecht Avenue
Description: Besides for the weird baby blue in several of the rooms, this apartment has a quaint little kitchen. It reminds me of that time I was stuck in Pennsylvania and drank Yuenglings to occupy myself. It probably has something to do with the wood cabinets.
Contact: Michael Merola, Citi Habitats, (917) 892-6664

Two Bedrooms in Dyker Heights
Price: $1,700
Location: Bay Ridge Parkway and 11th Avenue
Description: I submit to you here the highest in Dyker Heights fashion. True Rococo, new money style. Yes, this apartment listing has a spacious layout but who has time to consider this when there’s a huge chandelier hanging over the bedroom. In the next picture, there’s also a chandelier, but this one got so heavy that they just put it on the bed. Consider it your snuggle buddy.
Contact:  Nathalie Dominique Parra, R/E, (917) 995-6463

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

Community Board 11 with hold its monthly general meeting Thursday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m., at Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare (1740 84th Street).

On the agenda is a zoning item for 2402 86th Street. Dolphin Fitness is seeking to make minor alterations to its property, as well as extend their existing special permit that allows them to use the space for an additional 10 years. The property owner is also seeking additional time to seek a Certificate of Occupancy.

The Board serves as a local conduit to the government of New York City, representing neighbors’ needs and concerns. If you have a problem with a city agency or quality of life issue, the Board exists to relay your concerns and spur action.

There will be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

For more information, call (718) 266-8800.