Local BID and CB 2 Ask DOT for More Safety Upgrades on Atlantic Avenue

If DOT follows through on local requests, Atlantic Avenue, here at Hoyt Street, could get some pedestrian safety upgrades. Photo: Google Maps
If DOT follows through on local requests, Atlantic Avenue, here at Hoyt Street, could get some pedestrian safety upgrades. Photo: Google Maps

Last week, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn became the city’s first “arterial slow zone” with a 25 mph speed limit. Now, a business improvement district on the avenue’s western end is asking for pedestrian safety upgrades, and Community Board 2’s transportation committee has signed on.

“Pedestrian improvements are customer improvements,” said Atlantic Avenue BID Executive Director Josef Szende. “[Shoppers] on Atlantic Avenue are all pedestrians, at least at some point in their journey.”

The BID is asking DOT to study the following safety improvements [PDF]:

  • Leading pedestrian intervals at all eleven intersections within the BID area. (LPIs have already been installed at Clinton, Third and Fourth Avenues.)
  • Bus bulb-outs at corners to speed loading time for bus riders and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians.
  • Shared-lane markings for cyclists along Atlantic Avenue.

Community board staff refused to talk about Tuesday’s unanimous vote supporting the BID’s request, but a board member characterized the committee’s discussion as involving very little debate. Szende said the committee was skeptical of the need for shared-lane markings, since there are parallel bike lanes on Dean, Bergen and Schermerhorn Streets, but did not ask the BID to remove sharrows from its letter to DOT.

The committee did request that the BID also ask DOT about improvements to Times Plaza, the triangle between Fourth, Atlantic, and Flatbush Avenues. “It’s kind of a drab triangle right now. It’s just asphalt. There’s no lighting, there’s no wayfinding,” Szende said. “We’re asking DOT to take an honest look at these things, to consider them, and come back to us with whatever they think is feasible.”

A fourth request is for signal timing to discourage speeding along Atlantic. Szende said DOT’s announcement last week of an arterial slow zone on Atlantic, which the city rolled out only after the BID first approached the community board, addresses this concern.

This isn’t the BID’s first foray into transportation policy: Last year, it received parking meter adjustments as part of DOT’s PARK Smart reform. I asked Szende if the changes, which aim to improve parking availability for shoppers by increasing prices at meters where people park for hours at a time, have garnered much of a reaction since being implemented. “If the changes in the parking meter rates were going to cause a full scale exodus or revolution in customer behavior, that would’ve already happened,” he said.

Szende said that placard abuse is limiting the program’s effectiveness. “Someone who is coming to shop or pick something up from a store is completely blocked up from parking,” he said. The BID has had productive discussions with the Corrections Department, which operates a facility along Atlantic, but has not come to a solution to stem the tide of parking placards. “Some are legitimate, some are not,” Szende said of the free parking passes.

The prevalence of state and city agencies in Downtown Brooklyn exacerbates the problem. “Perhaps if it were a single agency, the problem would’ve already been solved, but it has not,” Szende said. “We would really need some leadership from the top to make it a serious priority.”

  • Oy Vey

    There are also car lanes on Dean, Bergen and Schermerhorn Streets. Does Atlantic Avenue not need markings for drivers?

    People who ride bikes would like to be able to safely make it to Atlantic Avenue to shop, visit friends, work…

  • Eric McClure

    Stephen, those LPIs are at Third and Fourth Avenues.

  • Eric McClure

    Here’s a suggestion. Eliminate all city-issued parking placards, and make anyone who wants one apply and demonstrate need. Sure, corrections officers and other placard holders have to be able to get to work, just like the checkout worker at Trader Joe’s or manager at Sahadi’s needs to be able to get to work. But the former get placards, and the latter don’t. Yet the latter, miraculously, still manage.

  • Kevin Love

    Here is a better suggestion. Eliminate all car parking placards and do not issue any new ones. Is there any other major city in the entire world that has a placard system? Yet somehow, miraculously, every other city manages.

  • millerstephen

    Corrected. Thanks Eric.

  • Sean Kelliher

    Eliminating placards (city issued and otherwise) and the reserved curbside space that comes with some of them would be ideal. In the meantime, while this is being debated, maybe the city could simply universally enforce parking rules.

    No parking means no parking
    No standing means no standing (and no parking either)
    Loading zones are for vehicles being loaded and unloaded
    Commercial parking zones are for commercial vehicles
    Sidewalks and cross walks are for pedestrians
    Bike lanes are for bicyclists

    Currently, these are the rules UNLESS you have a parking placard from somewhere, a patch or pin from a uniform, a PBA card, or a brightly colored safety vest to stick on your dashboard. Then, the rules no longer apply, park wherever you want, and everyone else is expected to work around you. This is wrong.

    Additionally, the screening process for “handicapped” parking privileges should be examined. Walk around for a few hours and it often looks like NYC has been recently devastated by a crippling epidemic. A few times, I have seen a handicapped person entering/exiting a handicapped vehicle. However, most of the time, I see able-bodied people springing to and from their cars, presumably scamming the system.

  • petercow

    I saw an official NY plate the other day that has the designation “NY Senator Emeritus”.

  • Ben Kintisch

    The proposed sharrows are not great, but they begin to lay the groundwork for a continuous bikeway spanning Brooklyn. Once Atlantic becomes wider (near 4th) it is far more do-able to install fully protected curbside bike lanes that would continue all the way across the borough.

  • qrt145

    It’s insensitive to assume that someone doesn’t suffer from a disability just because they don’t “look” disabled. What if it’s a mental disability? Some people suffer from sociopathic ruleabidingphobia, a crippling mental disability.

  • Right. I will be sure to take the “parallel” lane on Bergen, especially when I need to get to the greenway at Columbia St. Perhaps the committee can direct me to their teleporter at Court St?

    I also like how Schermerhorn’s bike lane ends right before the block I live on. But as long as there’s a 4 block long bike lane somewhere in the vicinity, Those Cyclists are presumed to be satisfied and politically taken care of.

  • Kevin Love

    Don’t forget entitlementitis, which manifests itself in acute selfish attacks.

  • jooltman

    This BID is smart to enable safe access to their businesses for all users. They should take it further and request a protected bike lane. Streets with this kind of lane in Manhattan have seen a huge increase in sales.

  • We have some solutions that could help discourage speeding and protect pedestrians as they cross. For more: http://www.xwalk.com

  • Enabling safe access is key to healthy revitalization – good point!

  • Robert Perris

    Since I am writing weeks after this post, I guess I am doing so mostly for the historical record. Lots of general comments about parking placards. However, in the instance mentioned above, all of the wardens at the Brooklyn Detention Center (since it reopened) have taken placard abuse (including use of “COBA” cards) seriously, confiscated placards and taken disciplinary action. It would have been nice if Josef had made that clearer.

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