Since the spring, DOT construction crews have been building out traffic calming improvements all over the neighborhoods near downtown Brooklyn. When the years-in-the-making Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project wraps up, pedestrians will have safer crossings at dozens of intersections. The sidewalk extension at the northwest corner of Smith and Bergen, shown here, is especially impressive. Several hundred square feet of street space now belong to pedestrians instead of cars.
I popped up from my subway ride home yesterday to take some pictures, and in the five minutes I spent there, it was plainly obvious that people feel more comfortable and at ease on the sidewalk with all that extra room. First, to give a sense of the extension’s size, check out what this corner used to look like (you can use the green "Smith’s Grocery" awning to orient yourself).
After the jump, more traffic-calmed goodness.
This is the view from the southwest corner, with the big extension on the far side of the street. I’m not the best at eyeball measurements, but the crossing distance on Bergen has got to be less than 20 feet now.
If you’re on foot, you feel like you’re in charge. You can run into a friend, catch up for a minute, and, yeah, stand nonchalantly by the curb without worrying about getting run over or obstructing someone else’s way. If you’re biking by, you might have to adjust your path a little…
…but that’s okay. A place that feels safe to walk feels safe to bike, too. (This is the view from the northeast corner.)
Speaking of which, a rumor is circulating that DOT might install some bike parking here. The DOT press office told us the agency is "investigating the placement of racks in the vicinity of the sidewalk extension." I think there’s enough room to go around.