Brooklyn CB 2 Committee Unanimously Backs Park Avenue Safety Fixes

Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene will get a road diet for eastbound traffic, among other measures. Image: DOT
Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, which runs beneath the BQE, will get a road diet for eastbound traffic, among other changes. Image: DOT

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 2’s transportation committee unanimously supported a set of traffic calming measures on Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, including a road diet for eastbound traffic [PDF]. The proposal from DOT comes after years of advocacy from local residents and organizations fed up with speeding and dangerous conditions on the roadway beneath the Brooklyn Queens Expressway viaduct.

The one-mile stretch of Park Avenue between Navy Street and Flushing Avenue ranks in the worst third of Brooklyn streets for traffic crashes, with nearly three in four drivers speeding, according to DOT, which clocked drivers going as fast as 52 mph.

A third of crashes on Park are right-angle collisions, usually involving a driver running a red light. These types of crashes are so common that a supermarket at the corner of Park and Washington Avenues captured two of them on camera within 20 days last winter, including one where a driver plowed through the store’s front door and into the produce section.

DOT’s plan builds on the recent addition of street lights and the removal of parking to improve visibility at corners. It incorporates many of the suggestions from the Park Avenue Pedestrian Safety Plan, produced in 2012 by the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project Local Development Corporation (MARP) with assistance from Architecture for Humanity New York — the culmination of years of community workshops and organizing. A petition in support of MARP’s plan gathered more than 1,100 signatures.

The biggest change under DOT’s plan is a reduction in the number of eastbound lanes from two to one, with a 14-foot parking lane and a 7-foot striped buffer along the median. At the intersections of North Portland, Clermont, and Vanderbilt Avenues, eastbound Park Avenue will include a right-turn lane to accommodate higher volumes of car traffic.

Westbound Park Avenue carries approximately double the traffic of the eastbound lanes during evening rush hour, and it will retain two lanes under DOT’s plan, which restripes them to more clearly mark the parking lane.

DOT proposes a few more changes. Traffic signals will be retimed to reduce speeding, and pedestrians will gain two seconds of crossing time during peak hours and six seconds during evening hours. This will make it easier to cross the 136-foot-wide avenue, with its twin 32-foot roadways and 72-foot median.

Currently, the median underneath the BQE is used for parking, which drivers access using curb cuts on north-south streets beneath the expressway. These short sections of cross streets are often filled with drivers who have turned off Park but are waiting for a green signal before crossing opposing traffic. Pedestrians who have crossed half of Park Avenue also wait under the BQE for walk signals. DOT’s plan would reduce conflicts in these crowded locations by closing some of the entrances to parking areas with plastic bollards and adding stop signs to the remaining entrances.

The plan does not make many changes to the complicated crossover intersection of Park Avenue and Williamsburg Place, where surface traffic zig-zags under the BQE as the highway curves northward near Flushing Avenue. It’s a particularly dangerous location: Cyclist Stefanos Tsigrimanis was killed here in 2010. MARP’s plan envisioned a major realignment of streets here to create a new public plaza space, but acknowledged that it was a longer-term recommendation. In a press release, MARP says it is asking DOT for capital improvements to Park Avenue, including fixes to the crossover intersection.

For now, DOT is proposing only a slight tweak by changing southbound Williamsburg Place from two lanes to one. This eliminates what DOT calls an “awkward” merge from three lanes as Wiliamsburg Place meets Park Avenue between Grand Avenue and Ryerson Street.

The plan now goes to CB 2’s full board meeting on June 11. DOT says it could be implemented as soon as September.

This post has been slightly modified to reflect the roles of MARP and Architecture for Humanity in developing the Park Avenue Pedestrian Safety Plan.

  • M to the I

    Interesting that there was nothing in there about the highway style right turn ramps and illegal sidewalk parking at Park and Navy. I believe this intersection was purposely added to the study area because of the issues of drivers failure to yield while making high speed turns and driving on the sidewalk.

    Cars are parked all over the place, across the sidewalk, on the embankment of the BQE offramp, blocking pedestrians. I think what is there is nice but it doesn’t address all of the issues.

  • These are very small steps. Essentially the problem is that cars are driving on this surface road like it’s a highway, because the infrastructure makes that easy to do… and this will do very little to stop them. How does DOT NOT have a mandate to take more drastic action to reduce highway-style driving? Because, people, if you NEED a highway, get on the one right above you!

  • Opafiets

    Where do bicycles go?

  • Ben Theohuxtable Garber

    I want to see protected bike lanes the other side of those parked cars. With this design, this route remains dangerous for cyclists. I’m disappointed, and writing the DOT.

  • R

    If there’s room for a 7′ buffer and a 14′ parking lane, why isn’t there room for an 11′ parking lane and a 10′ foot bike lane? It makes no sense.

  • precious

    Down the hill to Flushing Ave., duh. That’s good enough for you cyclists. It’s as if you think bicycle traffic should be taken into consideration every single time DOT comes up with a plan to improve surface streets.

  • Alon Levy

    Wouldn’t the wider lanes result in faster traffic?

  • Eric McClure

    I want to see protected bike lanes running right down the middle. If there’s 72 feet of width to accommodate car storage, there’s plenty of room for a two-way bike path. Plus, if it’s under the BQE, it will be weather-protected.

  • G

    The travel lanes should be narrower to reduce auto speeds; sidewalks widened and buffer placed curbside as a bikelane; convert the BQE viaduct parking into modular small business incubator buildings for low-income entrepreneurs. This arterial strongly hurts the community’s wellbeing.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Brooklyn CB2 Committee Seeks Better Fort Greene Bike Connections

|
The transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2 voted unanimously Tuesday night to advance the idea of improving cycling connections between Fort Greene and surrounding neighborhoods. The proposal put forward by committee member Mike Epstein envisions safer bicycling across Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, spanning intersections that are currently among the most dangerous in Brooklyn. […]

Park Avenue in Clinton Hill Awaits Fixes as Another Crash Caught on Camera

|
Last September, local elected officials joined the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and students from Benjamin Banneker Academy on Brooklyn’s Park Avenue to clock speeding drivers. The Partnership released a report offering suggestions to city agencies about how to improve pedestrian safety on the dangerous avenue, which has a crash rate higher than three-quarters of Brooklyn streets. More than a […]

No Charges for Driver Who Killed 72-Year-Old Cyclist in Sunset Park

|
A motorist killed a senior on a bike under the Gowanus Expressway on a Sunset Park street where drivers are routinely involved in high-speed crashes. The crash happened Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. Rigoberto Diaz, 72, was traveling westbound against traffic on 48th Street and attempting to turn left onto Third Avenue when a driver traveling northbound […]

This Week: Vision Zero, Ped Safety on Park Ave and 155th Street

|
Heading into Memorial Day weekend, the Streetsblog calendar shows no signs of letting up, with Vision Zero events in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens; a presentation of the Move NY fair toll plan in western Queens; and traffic calming proposals from DOT in Brooklyn and Manhattan. For the full complement of events, check the Streetsblog calendar. Here […]

DOT Planning Buffered Bike Lane on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene

|
DOT plans to install a buffered bike lane this summer on Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn between Fulton Street and Classon Avenue. The project, which the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee voted for unanimously last night, calls for a five-foot bike lane protected by a three-foot buffer zone [PDF]. It will be an upgrade from the current shared lane […]