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.
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.”