T.A. Offers Reward for Park Slope “Post-Automobile Street” Designs

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9th St. and 4th Ave.: "A dangerous crossing that divides surrounding neighborhoods and inhibits street life."

Transportation Alternatives is seeking proposals to reinvent the intersection of 9th Street and 4th Avenue in Park Slope. "Designing the 21st Century Street," a competition open to the general public, will reward the three most promising submissions with up to $6,000 in prize money.

TA lays out some of the obstacles at hand on the competition web site:

Ninth Street is excessively wide and allows motorists to travel at speeds greater than the posted City speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Furthermore, Ninth Street was recently treated with a new bicycle lane that leads people to and from Prospect Park. Though the reasons for placing a bike lane on this street are clear … the bike lanes have attracted some controversy because of the rampant double-parking that occurs in the neighborhood.

Fourth Avenue has a raised median to separate travel direction for the length of the avenue. At this intersection, the median has been shaved away to create dedicated turning lanes. This is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and is not a safe refuge for pedestrians, particularly the children and elderly, who can not make it across the street in the allotted time.

To be contenders,
TA says, "Competitors must re-imagine this intersection as a healthy,
safe and sustainable street that serves pedestrians and bicyclists
first, while functioning as a transit hub and truck route."

Jury members include city planning and transportation staff, along with "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz and Danish planner Jan Gehl. Entrants must register by July 18 and submit proposals by August 18.

Care to get the ball rolling, Streetsbloggers? 

Photo: Transportation Alternatives

  • paul

    Thanks for the mention, StreetsBlog! in total, the prize money amounts to $12,000. $6k for 1st, then $4k and $2k for second and third respectively. first prize may also get a dinner with Jan Gehl. Third prize gets a burrito with Noah Budnick.

  • Tom Rorb

    This is an amazing idea. If it works and can find more sponsors and $$$, you could have a yearly contest at one of the worst intersections in each of the five boros.

  • Paul

    Ok, I had this really great idea. Then I realized it’s already been done thousands of times in other countries. Damn!

    Idea #1 http://www.envoguemusic.com/images/turkey/DamrakTram2.jpg

    And since 9th Ave is wide enough, you may allow cars too:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Tram24Amsterdam2.jpg

    Cars, peds, bikes and trams all on the same street and with little interference from each other? Who would’ve thought? Wake up America? The near perfect model lies just across the Atlantic. It’s simple. Just do it before I leave this shithole.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Given that 9th Street and 4th Avenue were built this wide in a pre-automobile world, I’m not sure one could really make 4th Ave one lane in each direction. If you could, I suppose a small traffic circle could be installed.

    I guess one could say that absent automobiles one could eliminate the parking lanes, but that seems a long way off.

  • Larry, I have an idea: see the pre-1922 photograph of Park Avenue at http://www.naparstek.com/2005/12/history-of-new-york-city-public-space.php

  • Spud Spudly

    Holy moly, I never knew that about Park Avenue! That’s amazing.

  • Bob

    Larry – you could probably still have a roundabout, with 2-lane entrances, flaring out by taking the parking lanes at the entrances. I think it’s an idea worth pushing.

  • Larry Littlefield

    What an amazing decison urbanis. Those pictures say it all.

    All the more reason to make Park a bicycle boulevard, with strategically-placed interruptions for motor vehicles to discourage through traffic. Make it more like it was.

    I’m not sure 4th Avenue in Brooklyn is a place for that, however. There aren’t a bunch of other wide avenues right next to it.

  • JP

    The real challenge will be addressing the truck traffic. A realistic redesign of the intersection will need to accept the fact that 4th Ave is a truck route. Perhaps all truck traffic could be diverted to 3rd, but I don’t know how easy it is to change a street’s designation so that it is no longer a truck route. Also, the medians on 4th ave have vents for the subway underneath, so landscaping the medians will be a problem.

  • Joe

    @Paul: Those Amsterdam street scenes look great, but keep in mind that the subway already runs both under (R train) and above (F train) 4th Ave/9th St., so you would not need to dedicate any above-ground area for additional trams/streetcars/etc.

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