Coalition Calls for Comprehensive Transpo Plan for Northwest Brooklyn

Choked by traffic, Downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding neighborhoods need a comprehensive agenda for transportation — and the current ad hoc approach from the city and state isn’t cutting it in the fast-growing area, says a coalition of community groups, elected officials, and advocates.

The report calls for the expansion of popular programs like 20 mph zones while asking the city to take bolder steps to redesign major streets.

Last week the coalition unveiled the “BK Gateway Transportation Vision” [PDF], covering a broad range of steps to curb traffic, improve surface transit, and make streets safer for walking and biking. The organizations that produced the report and rolled it out include the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Park Slope Civic Council, the Boerum Hill Association, and the office of Council Member Letitia James.

The heart of the plan calls for congestion pricing and residential parking permits, as well as an expansion of the PARK Smart program beyond Park Slope and 20 mph neighborhood slow zones beyond the one in Boerum Hill. Congestion pricing — by far the most transformative single proposal in the plan — and RPP — recently rejected by DOT for neighborhoods near the Barclays Center — need Albany’s say-so to advance, while NYC DOT could move forward with more PARK Smart areas and slow zones independently.

Other key coalition requests within the city’s control are street redesigns. The plan calls for protected bike lanes and Select Bus Service on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues — two critical transportation corridors with terrible safety records — as well as extending the bus-only lanes on Fulton and Livingston Streets.

The plan also calls for a “pedestrian safety rapid response team” around the Barclays Center to handle overflow crowds. This and other arena issues are likely to be addressed as part of DOT’s study examining traffic and parking after the Barclays Center opened this fall.

Parking placards, which are used, abused, and counterfeited all over Downtown Brooklyn, are not mentioned in the report. When Streetsblog asked James if she supports placard reform, she said, “There should be areas where placards are not allowed at all. That includes my placard.”

The plan also calls for replacing parking minimums with parking maximums. James, who did not call for eliminating parking requirements when the Department of City Planning moved forward with parking reform for Downtown Brooklyn, said she might consider supporting maximums if they were applied to a larger area. DCP has shown little inclination to eliminate parking requirements outside the Manhattan core, and the agency has taken a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to parking reform in the other four boroughs, so far addressing only Downtown Brooklyn.

DCP’s modest proposal to trim parking requirements in Downtown Brooklyn has moved ahead, with James and Council Member Stephen Levin using the issue to call for more income-restricted housing and public facilities, including schools. James said she had received assurances that the Department of City Planning and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership would work with her office as developers repurpose overbuilt garages. These spaces — which James and Levin want to be used for retail, income-restricted housing, or an elementary school — may require additional rezoning on top of the parking reform before they can be re-purposed for affordable housing or schools.

Next up for the BK Gateway coalition: a panel discussion on the area’s transportation issues on January 26.

  • Anonymous

    This would’ve been nice before Barclays.  I mean, they’re undertaken billions of development for the Atlantic Yards . . . and now, people are like . . . hmmmm, let’s have a comprehensive plan b/c what we got now is kind of a shit show.

    The plan also calls for a “pedestrian safety rapid response team” around the Barclays Center to handle overflow crowds. 

    Uhhh yah . . . that’s long overdue.  Otherwise, it’s like a castle surrounded by a moat of alligators or some shit.  Except the alligators are cars buzzing down the street.  What a shitty location.  Bounded by two heavily used highways.   The pedestrians are an after-thought.  It’s like the stadium is accomodating the automobiles.   

    I love Brooklyn and watching it (re-)develop and evolve.   But that Barclays Center is a cluster-fuck and it’s only a matter of time before they make serious changes to Flatbush/Atlantic Ave.  I hope it doesn’t take a group of peds getting wiped out by a truck to make it happen . . . but knowing how change happens around here, it usually requires a fatality or two: http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/03/29/community-board-3-approves-delancey-street-safety-improvements/

  • Bolwerk

    I love how totally simple, basic, nearly cost-free moves pass for “bold” these days. 

  • Ari

    Couple of thoughts:

    – This plan calls for SBS on Myrtle and Flushing, two-way two-lane streets (not including parking lanes).  I don’t think SBS can work within that geometry, especially with the Greenway on Flushing.  The B38 (on Dekalb and Lafayette) could make more sense.  But the new neckdowns could reduce that possibility.

    – There are a ton of problems with Barclays, both what it is and how it happened.  However, I disagree with @JarekAF:disqus.  Atlantic at Flatbush is part of Downtown Brooklyn and is a great location for an arena.

  • Anonymous

    @491452b8f88358120e2d0efb94ada2f9:disqus 

    I think downtown Brooklyn is/was a great location for it too.  But, unlike the Verizon Center, which is physically integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, the Barclays Center (“BC”) is bounded by two highways. 

    At least one of the highways should be a tunnel allowing for a pedestrian plaza.  Otherwise, I’m not about to play Frogger trying to bar hop or get dinner before/after a game.  It’s intimidating.  The Exhaust sucks.  

  • Anonymous

    @491452b8f88358120e2d0efb94ada2f9:disqus 

    I think downtown Brooklyn is/was a great location for it too.  But, unlike the Verizon Center, which is physically integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, the Barclays Center (“BC”) is bounded by two highways. 

    At least one of the highways should be a tunnel allowing for a pedestrian plaza.  Otherwise, I’m not about to play Frogger trying to bar hop or get dinner before/after a game.  It’s intimidating.  The Exhaust sucks.  

  • Anonymous

    @491452b8f88358120e2d0efb94ada2f9:disqus 

    I think downtown Brooklyn is/was a great location for it too.  But, unlike the Verizon Center, which is physically integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, the Barclays Center (“BC”) is bounded by two highways. 

    At least one of the highways should be a tunnel allowing for a pedestrian plaza.  Otherwise, I’m not about to play Frogger trying to bar hop or get dinner before/after a game.  It’s intimidating.  The Exhaust sucks.  

  • Bolwerk

    @491452b8f88358120e2d0efb94ada2f9:disqus : The B54 already runs on Myrtle.  It’s a long, straight, wide avenue that once featured streetcars and an el.  I don’t see the problem. Maybe with SBS it will start to approach its pre-1940 reliability. Or not. :-

  • Bolwerk

    @491452b8f88358120e2d0efb94ada2f9:disqus : The B54 already runs on Myrtle.  It’s a long, straight, wide avenue that once featured streetcars and an el.  I don’t see the problem. Maybe with SBS it will start to approach its pre-1940 reliability. Or not. :-

  • Bolwerk

    Sticking a sports stadium in downtown Brooklyn is the same kind of my-way-or-the-highway auto-centric narcissism that drove Robert Moses. It’s about making sure the next generation that lives in that area gets a big dump taken on it. It should not be done.

  • Anonymous

    @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus 

    Sticking a sports stadium in downtown Brooklyn is the same kind of my-way-or-the-highway auto-centric narcissism that drove Robert Moses 

    They stacked a sports stadium in downtown DC and it was huge boon to the neighborhood.  Wasn’t auto-centric at all.  Very walkable. On top of a major transit line. Serves, together with a 20 screen theater, as the anchor for the neighborhood (which includes many recently built densely populated apts/condos). 

    But, whereas the Verizon Center was bounded by narrow 1-2 line streets (though not too far from the Freeway); we’ve got the BC surrounded by 8-10+ lanes on each side.  At VC, I can walk without fear to a ton of bars and restaurants.   I can walk to bars and restaurants from BC, but, it’s not as inviting and it’s only a matter of time before some peds are killed. 

  • Bolwerk

    @JarekAF:disqus: Near as I could tell, MCI Center (as it was then called when I used to frequent that area) was a horrendous, soulless hell. That area is walkable like Queens Center mall is walkable.  You can do it, but it’s hardly pleasant.

    Then, I feel that way about most of DC. I imagine the only more grotesque capital city in the hemisphere might be Brasilia. Either are more fitting places for stadiums than downtown Brooklyn, which should be shown enough respect to at least have its auto-centric afflictions repaired.

  • Anonymous

    @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus Well all of this is moot as Barclays is here to stay.  When I lived in Logan Circle and Shaw in DC, I used to bike to the Verizon/MCI Center area all the time (for movies, food, shopping).  And navigating Mass Ave is much easier than Atlantic and Flatbush.

    Much of the development is fairly recent (like 2007 and afterwards) but the MCI Center was the anchor.  And look, they’re even developing the air rights about I-395.

    http://pgp.us.com/pdf/395_air_rights_property.pdf

    And yah, I think you’re a little biased against DC.  Brasilia!?!? C’mon man. DC at least is fairly densely populated with decent transit.  

  • Bolwerk

    @JarekAF:disqus : Of course it’s staying, at least for a generation or two. It’s still not excusable or desirable.

    DC is a city created by and for bureaucrats back when or even before bureaucrats needed transit. That it is a soulless hell heap is intentional, but of course it has its nice parts. (If it didn’t, it would be Brasilia.) I’m just not sure MCI/Verizon Center is exactly one of them.

  • Ben Kintisch

    There’s a lot in this plan that is totally visionary. One idea I particularly like is protected bike lanes on the two nastiest streets in the area: Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue. These would be super popular and serve as much needed traffic calming. Why not dream big?

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