Traffic-Calming Road Diet Could Come to Fourth Avenue in Park Slope

Fourth Avenue in Park Slope is slated for a road diet that will shorten crossing distances for pedestrians. Image: ##http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/4thave/files/2013/04/Park-Slope_Open-House-Boards_April-9-2013.pdf##NYC DOT##

For years, Fourth Avenue has been identified as one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians. Recently, DOT has been working neighborhood-by-neighborhood — in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and Park Slope — to redesign Fourth Avenue for greater safety. Last week, the agency unveiled its proposals to calm traffic and add pedestrian space on 28 blocks of Fourth Avenue, from 15th Street to Pacific Street.

The Park Slope proposal [PDF] resembles the changes implemented last year in Sunset Park. On most of this stretch, traffic lanes would be reduced from three lanes in each direction to two, providing room for painted curb and median extensions. The northbound lanes from Union Street to Atlantic Avenue — where motor vehicle traffic is heaviest, especially during the morning rush — will retain the existing three-lane configuration.

DOT is also proposing to daylight intersections — removing car parking so motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians can see each other better — and introduce bike corrals and planters near St. Mark’s Place, Union Street, Carroll Street, and 10th Street.

The proposal calls for restricting left turns from Fourth Avenue onto Dean, Butler, Degraw, 8th, and 13th Streets. In addition, 3rd and 9th Streets would receive left-turn restrictions, but from southbound Fourth Avenue only. The restriction at 9th Street would eliminate the dedicated turn lane currently in place at the intersection, creating space for a wider median to accommodate the high number of people walking to the subway. (The 9th Street intersection sees more crashes than any other along this stretch of Fourth Avenue.)

Medians at intersections where turn restrictions are introduced would be widened from two feet to 18 feet. Many of these wider medians are near schools — specifically P.S. 133, P.S. 118, and P.S. 124. At intersections that retain turn lanes, the two-foot medians would be widened to six feet.

At the busy northern end of Fourth Avenue as it approaches Atlantic Avenue, DOT is proposing adding planters to the median and widening the sidewalk near the subway entrance on the northwest corner with Pacific Street.

Efforts to improve safety on Fourth Avenue have been in the works for years. In 2010, Borough President Marty Markowitz released a vision plan for the street. The following year, Markowitz created the Fourth Avenue Task Force, and the Park Slope Civic Council launched its Forth on Fourth Avenue initiative. In 2012, community planning sessions began, with a 50-block stretch in Sunset Park seeing the first improvements last fall.

On May 16, DOT will present the Park Slope plan to Community Board 6, followed by CB 2 on May 21. Changes could be implemented by the end of the year. Meanwhile, a redesign of Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge is also moving forward, with a DOT presentation before Community Board 10’s transportation committee anticipated in May.

  • steve c

    Slowing traffic on 4th and making it safer and more livable for the people who live there is an admirable goal.

    However, I am utterly confused why this proposal does not include bike lanes. Rather than simply taking away space from vehicles with the goal of improving pedestrian safety adding one bidirectional or 2 seperated bike lanes between parking and the curb would achieve the goal of narrowing the crossing for pedestrians and slowing traffic speeds while allowing safe local bike travel and a badly needed cycling connection to South Brooklyn.

    This is better than what exists, but ultimately a poor use of space and Im really not sure what is going on with DOT and their lack of interest in continued improvements in the cycling infrastructure in Brooklyn, especially with Bike Share Coming. For an even worse use of road space please see http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/03/25/fourth-avenue-in-bay-ridge-on-track-for-road-diet/.

  • Daphna

    This looks similar to what the DOT did to Adam Clayton Powell in Manhattan from 133rd to 155th Street. On Adam Clayton Powell they removed a travel lane in each direction, created left turn bays and created a wide median on the blocks where they was no left turn bay. They created a 14′ parking lane which serves as a type of de facto unmarked bike lane. In the case of Adam Clayton Powell, the DOT wanted a buffered bike lane in each direction to replace a travel lane in each direction, but the Central Harlem Community Board, CB10, objected. Hence, the DOT changed the traffic calming plan to be the wider median and the left turn bays instead. CB10 still objected. However, in that case the DOT installed part of the plan anyway. The DOT had proposed the plan from 118th to 155th. After CB10 objected, they still put it in from 133rd to 155th where the most pedestrians injuries were happening on that street.

    Now most of the Transportation Committee members of Manhattan CB10 like the street re-design on Adam Clayton Powell, but the chair of that committee doesn’t and she is obstructing an extension of the traffic calming design.

  • J

    Agreed, but I think the idea is to set aside space for future improvements. It appears that DOT doesn’t think it has the political support to put in bike lanes at this point, cause once people see a bike symbol the rational part of their brain begins to shut down. I believe the worry is that a good pedestrian & vehicle safety project, which also benefits cyclists, will get nixed cause people hate bikes & bikers.

    I’ve ridden the stretch of 4th in Sunset Park where the same design has been implementation, and I have to say it’s MUCH nicer than before. It’s still fairly scary, though, which is a testament to how truly awful it used to be.

    With the street narrowed to two lanes in each direction, space will exist to implement a curbside protected bike lane in each direction, without needed to remove any more travel lanes.. This would really be a coup d’etat for biking and walking in that part of Brooklyn. I see this happening maybe 3-5 years in the future.

  • car free nation

    The argument that I heard was that because of the nature of the street, it would be too trafficy. The place you really need it is north of Union, to connect to the Bergen Street lane, but that’s not in the cards apparently, since we need to accommodate all the toll shoppers looking for a way over the Manhattan Bridge for free.

  • I agree with the bike lane comment but am also happy that we are finally taking some steps forward with 4th Avenue.

  • Brooklynite

    Remember at the very end of Iris Weinshall’s tenure at NYC DOT when her Chief Traffic Engineer Mike Primeggia floated a secret plan to redesign 4th Avenue?

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/03/16/dots-park-slope-presentation

    Anyone who says DOT under JSK is no good at working with and listening to communities really just needs to look at the 2007 4th Avenue effort versus the one that’s underway today. It’s night and day.

  • Ian Dutton

    I asked that instead of simply disallowing left turns at a few intersections, the 4th Ave. median be extended across the intersection so as to prohibit any through traffic. In particular, commercial trucks bound for the Gowanus industrial zone improperly use the residential streets of Park Slope as a through-route, so cutting through traffic completely would eliminate this.

  • Anonymous

    Yesterday, I noticed that they started repaving Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.from 100th to 113th St. I wonder how they’ll repaint the lanes after that (that part previously had bike lanes, which stretch north to 117th St).

  • Hamid Mezhoud

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  • Ra

    This idea is so stupid if u want to ride a bike go to 5 av that makes sense 4av is like our northern blvd you don’t see them making NB 2 lanes it’s sad how ppl who don’t live in an area get to make choices about it

  • Steve F

    Ra misses the point, that 4th Ave is being changed for street safety first, not for cyclists. Ra also missed the fact that multiple community workshops and meetings have been repeatedly held over several years, where the “ppl” who do live in the area, all along 4th Ave, have demanded a street where traffic travels safely at or below the 30 mile per hour speed limit, where pedestrians can cross without getting killed, and where the occasional cyclist can travel reasonably safely.

    Ra misses the point that 4th Ave had been “optimized” to move the cars of “ppl” who DON’T live in the area, THROUGH the area as fast as possible. In other words, the street is being used as an annex and backup to the BQE-Gowanus Expressway, to move outsiders through a string of Brooklyn neighborhoods. We – these do live in these neighborhoods – have collectively rejected that model as the wrong way for a street to be designed and managed.

    Surprisingly, the new DOT design does not significantly slow average traffic speeds or reduce traffic capacity! The third – outside – lane of 4th Ave has served as a double parking lane that effectively reduces the roadway to only 2 useful lanes at any time. You can depend on a double parked car every two or three blocks at a minimum, and often one every on block. This causes turbulent traffic flow, and encourages Kamikaze drivers to speed through those one or two empty blocks before forcing their way back into the middle lane. High speed on the right and passing on the right is wrong, but the current 3 lanes encourage it.

    The new plan leaves a buffer on the right side just a shade narrower than the width of a double parked car, and another buffer on the left against the center mall. Double parking still happens, but now the two traffic lanes shift just a bit to the left around the car/truck and keep moving smoothly forward. Right turning cars pull right, over the buffer area, slowing before their turn. They can stop here for crossing pedestrians without blocking the two through traffic lanes, those cars just shift left and pass them smoothly.

    What we get is smoother flow, closer to a steady 30 MPH, hence the faster average speed along 4th Ave. Before, we had cars at 50+ MPH, racing for red lights and cutting around double parked cars, just to go down to ZERO. There was a lot of ZERO – 50 – ZERO, with too much ZERO movement. Now there will be a lot more 25-30 MPH, without the 50s and with less ZERO. Smoother and yet no capacity lost.

    Finally, 5th Ave has it’s problems for cyclists. There is no bike lane south of 20th St yet, and with or without a bike lane, the extensive retail business along 5th encourages frequent double parking, which is dangerous to pass on a bike. 5th is not terrible to ride on, but it’s no ride in the park that Ra implies. There are good reasons for cyclists to avoid 5th Ave if they can.

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