BY JON CRONIN
Community Board 5 gave unanimous approval last week to a plaza at Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues and Palmetto Street in Ridgewood after parents and friends of car crash victims shed tears and plead for change at the dangerous intersection.
Between 2009 and 2014 three pedestrians were killed by buses at the intersection: Ella Bandes, 23, Hui Wu, 27 and Edwin Torres, 60.
Bandes’ parents, as part of Families for Safe Streets, spoke last Wednesday at the CB 5 meeting. Judy Kottick, Bandes’ mother, said she was there to speak about the street redesign on behalf of her daughter and the other two who lost their lives at the intersection.
“Losing a beloved child is the nightmare you would imagine it to be,” said Kottick. “Ella loved her Ridgewood neighborhood. She appreciated the food choices, her neighbors, the diversity and an apartment she could afford on her meager internship salary and even the L train when it got her to work on time.”
She said she knows other street users will see this as an inconvenience, but “we tried a simpler approach and it didn’t work,” referring to the City Department of Transportation’s implementation of banned turns, which has proven to show low compliance.
She believes the construction of a plaza will minimize the risk of pedestrians interacting with drivers.
“No one should risk their lives trying to get home and that’s exactly the situation we have here,” Kottick said. “I imagine you think this could never happen to you, because you don’t play Pokemon Go, and don’t wear headphones when you cross the street. You look both ways, the way you were taught as a child, but I’m telling you this could happen to you or someone you love,” she noted.
Vinnie Arcuri, chairman of CB 5, said Bandes’ family have been very active with the community and their transportation committee and participated in meetings with the DOT. “I want to thank the family for everything they’ve done.”
Joshua Katz Rosein, a Ridgewood resident, said, “I witness on a daily basis the very heavy pedestrian traffic.” He said he sees buses turning from different directions causing confusion. Rosein believes this redesign will increase safety and quality of life for the community.
Lisa Pearlstein, a Ridgewood resident, said her daughter lost one of her best friends when Bandes was hit by the bus three and half years ago.
“This community board truly has a chance to save lives by voting to support this intersection,” she said.
Cherise Silverman said the intersection is chaotic and causes mass confusion among pedestrians. She said the temporary plaza on Wyckoff that the DOT sponsored in May was “amazing.” She pointed out that when the M train shuts down for repairs the intersection will be become even busier.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin