After years of neighborhood activism, the Department of Transportation plans to install much-needed safety improvements at the dangerous intersection of Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenue, at the southeast corner of Prospect Park. By closing a park entrance to automobiles, DOT will simplify the intersection and shrink the space dedicated to traffic, preventing an estimated ten injuries per year [PDF].
On average, 20 people are injured every year at the corner of Ocean and Parkside, placing it in the top two percent of the most dangerous intersections in Brooklyn, according to the Department of Transportation. The juncture of two wide avenues is complicated by the further intersection of a park drive entrance. The five-point intersection is right next to a subway station; thousands of people cross the street to get to the train every say.
Neighborhood residents have been pushing for a safety fix for years; Streetsblog first covered their campaign in 2008. Now, the redesign is set to be put in place by July, 2012, according to local activist Carrie McLaren, who attended a meeting about the project with DOT Tuesday night.
The key to the safety improvements is closing the park drive entrance to automobiles. That shift allows DOT to create some new pedestrian space and realign the heavily-traveled crosswalks. By putting the crosswalks closer to the points where drivers execute their turns, the redesign should make motorists more aware of people walking across the street. That should help reduce the incidence of dangerous failure-to-yield violations: More than half of the pedestrian crashes at the intersection took place when the pedestrian had the walk signal.
All told, the redesign will shrink the space between the crosswalks from around 6,900 square feet to 3,400 square feet. DOT is predicting big safety gains: By their estimate, the number of crashes and injuries should drop by half, preventing ten people from being injured every year.
“I’m thrilled with the plan because it closes off the park entrance to cars, shrinks the intersection, and makes it much easier for everyone involved to travel safely,” said McLaren.
The city doesn’t expect closing the park entrance to increase congestion. Currently, the entrance is only open to traffic for two hours on weekday mornings, and only 360 vehicles use the entrance on a given day. That’s just one percent of all the traffic passing through the intersection in a day; DOT doesn’t project significant traffic disruptions as a result.
To put it a different way, in the same two hours that 360 cars enter the park at that corner, 1,300 pedestrians walk across the intersection of Ocean and Parkside.
In addition to making safety improvements, DOT is also reworking curbside regulations on Parkside Avenue to make room for a larger bus stop and delivery space for a supermarket.