DOT’s Meeker Ave Safety Project Gets — You Guessed It — Meeker

DOT's updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for new neckdowns instead of a closed slip lane at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT
DOT’s updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for curb extensions instead of a car-free space at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue, and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT has watered down its safety plan for the area around Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan avenues. And for the second time in as many meetings, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee could not make quorum last night to vote on the project.

DOT’s plan calls for sidewalk extensions and crosswalks at several intersections where Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan converge. It’s not a “complete street” redesign of the length of Meeker, but it would be a step up for pedestrian safety at these locations. There were three fatalities and more than 90 injuries in the project area between 2009 and 2013.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT
Map: DOT

Last night’s presentation included a few modifications from what DOT showed in January. Significantly, the plan no longer calls for pedestrianizing the short segment of North 5th Street between Metropolitan and Havemeyer. Instead, DOT will add neckdowns at three corners.

DOT Project Manager Julio Palleiro said the change was made at the request of the Church of the Annunciation, whose front entrance faces the would-be plaza. The church initially OK’d the car-free space, but came back to DOT after last month’s presentation. “They made a very strong case about elderly folks that need to get up to the front door here, and by having them over here that will add an extra 30 or 40 feet, which is significant for elderly people,” Palleiro said.

Last month, members of Transportation Alternatives’ “Make Meeker Move” campaign were disappointed by the lack of bike infrastructure in DOT’s proposal. That hasn’t changed, but DOT did make some tweaks in response to their feedback. While the original plan added parking spots on Metropolitan, DOT removed them after TA volunteers said they could be obstacles to the future installation of a bike lane. “We don’t have any study showing we can put any bike lanes on Metropolitan at this point in time, but we don’t want to add any parking to preclude that future possibility,” Palleiro said.

After two committee members came and left last night, there was no longer a quorum to vote on DOT’s plan. CB 1 said this morning that the committee chair will still present the plan for the full board’s endorsement on March 8.

TA volunteer Jeff Csicsek said improvements like curb extensions and crosswalks are an incremental step in the right direction but fall short of aspirations. “I think it could be an amazing bike corridor,” he said. “If you have protected bike facilities there, just imagine coming off the Williamsburg Bridge — connecting [with Meeker] and that being kind of like the spine of a solid bike network in North Brooklyn.”

  • When a church claims that elderly people couldn’t walk a few feet from the corner instead, does DOT vette this claim or just accept it? Based on Palleiro’s comments, it doesn’t sound as though anyone from DOT bothered to verify whether there are in fact people attending this church who wouldn’t be able to walk from Havermeyer? And based on the streetview images, I question whether we’re talking about an extra 30-40 feet or an extra 5-10 feet here.

    Safety concerns and Vision Zero demand a rigorous defense of this request.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    In fact, they could likely make a drop off area at the edge of the closed slip… no? And then line it with planter and bollards and you’ve got a close drop off to the front door.

  • Seems great to me. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as DOT has done here, is just so anathema to Vision Zero that I am again left questioning the administration’s commitment to this proposed goal.

  • “They made a very strong case about elderly folks that need to get up to the front door here, and by having them over here that will add an extra 30 or 40 feet, which is significant for elderly people.”

    Too bad no one made a strong enough case to DOT about people of all ages getting hit by cars.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    I think DOT’s commitment is sincere. But their execution towards that goal is, at times, so terribly askew that it makes us all slap our heads and turn from advocates to DOT opponents.

  • c2check

    Heck, they could even add planters so there’s a 12-foot limited-access driveway along the curb that could be used for church access. Paint it, narrow it to slow speeds, and make it look like it’s not a through-street.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Makes you wonder how big the church might be. It looks to be a good 100 feet long. Do all the elderly people sit in the back row?

  • Simon Phearson

    Yeah, the explanation is a head-scratcher for me, too. This is New York, city of the pedestrian! Surely people with limited mobility here have found ways to get around when they can’t be dropped off within a dozen feet of their ultimate destination.

  • Simon Phearson

    It’s puzzling to me that a concern that might ultimately impact a minority of a minority of people who may or may not even live in this neighborhood can outweigh, in the DOT’s thinking, all of the reasons in favor of pedestrianizing this tiny stretch of road. Even if we were to credit the church’s concerns as legitimate, shouldn’t the ultimate decision turn on the proposal’s impact on everyone who lives near and walks along these streets? Or even on everyone who enters and leaves the church, who presumably have to contend with crowding on the sidewalk before and after services, as well as crossing this bit of street?

    I just don’t understand why the DOT’s M.O. seems to be to find ways not to improve streets to serve all road users. When it comes to inferior bike lanes, I can at least understand their policy as passive-aggressively favoring drivers and parkers as a class over cyclist safety. Here, it seems they are reluctant to cede any driver territory at all, no matter how trivial or redundant.

  • J

    Seriously. DOT does the following which makes me turn against them:

    They leaving out bicycle facilities in every other project,
    They cave to even the slightest complaint
    They fail to innovate or be at all creative to solve problems
    They still value traffic flow above ALL else

  • chekpeds

    you can say that again… I think they have an emotional commitment and no one sat down to change all the mechanics of the DOT to translate this commitment in the DNA to DOT… each group still resolve problems by the book and that book was written in 1970…

    But there is more : DOT’s last Street design manual says that LOS is of top importance – that says it all
    http://chekpeds.com/why-is-vision-zero-progress-so-slow-in-nyc
    How could Polly publish such a thing in this day and age? I am beyond frustrated ..

  • chekpeds

    Meanwhile the affordable plan of Mayor Di Blasio is built on the assumption that older people do not own cars …. Oh yeah I forgot , those are older poorer people…

  • chekpeds

    DOT did th same thing at 14th street plaza in manhattan, there was a side street that should have been part of the plaza, but a business opposed it . now the business has sold its lot and DOT is building a subpar plaza with a street right in the middle of it .

  • AMH
  • Bernard Finucane

    That streetview shows that these people are literally insane.

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