Van Bramer warns of cars going backwards on one-way stretch

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) says measures must be taken to prevent drivers from traveling the wrong way up 39th Street near 51st Avenue at a news conference with CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley (second from r.) and residents. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) called upon the city Department of Transportation and NYPD Friday to institute traffic calming measures and step up enforcement on 39th Street near 51st Avenue in Blissville.

Van Bramer said residents on the street have complained that during rush hour cars and even tractor-trailers sometimes drive backward going north on the street, which is one-way going south, in an effort to avoid the traffic congestion at the intersection of 51st and Greenpoint avenues. The councilman said this is a great danger to residents who are expecting vehicles to travel south only.

“We are lucky that no one has died yet,” Van Bramer said.

The councilman said he wanted an extension of the sidewalk and another sign at the intersection warning drivers not to make a righthand turn up the road. He said he also wanted the 108th Precinct to do more patrols in the area.

DOT spokesman Scott Gastel said in an e-mail the department had notified Community Board 2 and Van Bramer last Thursday that a design to narrow the roadway is in the works and will be installed sometime next month.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.

Stephen Grandejr, 26, alerted Van Bramer to the problem. Last spring, he shot a video which shows multiple cars and a box truck driving the wrong way, some while going backward, up the street in broad daylight. He contacted Van Bramer a month after filming the video.

“It looks like something out of a movie,” Van Bramer said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Grandejr said cars often make moving violations during rush hours, but sometimes they will do it as early as 3 p.m.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “You know that there’s an opportunity for something bad to happen whether to me or anyone else.”

CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley said the area has long been a concern for the board.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Conley said. “This is a danger and it needs to be fixed.”

Van Bramer said while no accidents or deaths have occurred on the street, something needs to be done because a serious problem seems likely.

“Even the most alert child or adult does not expect a tractor-trailer backing up, going the wrong way on a one-way street,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Posted 12:37 am, August 30, 2012
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