Obamites: “Yes We Can!” NYPD: “Traffic First”

obama4_1.jpg

Jan Gehl and Enrique Penalosa often talk about the important role that public space plays in a healthy, functioning democracy. I was reminded of that last night as joyous Brooklynites took to the streets for spontaneous celebration following Barack Obama’s election victory. This was the scene at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Union Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn last night around 1:15 a.m.

obama3.jpg

By that time I’m guessing there were about 350 people out there chanting "O-BA-MA" and "Yes We Can!" People were cheering and high-fiving the drivers of horn-honking taxis and garbage trucks. Things were festive, conflict-free and traffic was managing to squeeze its way through the intersection without any real problem. Until….

obama2

…the NYPD showed up. In their apparently never-ending quest to keep the city safe for vehicular throughput, the cops seemed intent on turning a peaceful, Park Slopey neighborhood celebration into a mini-riot (likewise, over in Williamsburg). If the goal was to keep the streets clear for traffic, the genius officer, above right, didn’t help matters when he stopped a limo driver in the middle of the street and wrote him a summons. Another officer cranked up his most obnoxious siren and slowly drove his cruiser into the throng in an apparent attempt to push people back on to the sidewalk. This had the effect of dispersing people into the middle of the intersection and putting an angry edge on the crowd. 

obama1_1.jpg

Finally, someone at the precinct used his brain and decided to just cork the four intersections around Fifth and Union, diverting the small amount of late night motor traffic around what had become a kind of spontaneous town square. By 1:30 a.m. the neighborhood’s outpouring of democratic fervor was spent and the intersection was once again safe for gypsy cabs and private carting trucks.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Petition: Tell DOT to Reverse the Curse on Brooklyn Speedways

|
How fast do cars travel on Prospect Park West? Criminally fast. All the time. Members of Park Slope Neighbors clocked cars routinely exceeding the 30 mph speed limit — including one sociopath racing at 65 mph — during a ten-minute stretch earlier this month. Prospect Park West and Eighth Avenue form a one-way pair funneling […]

Suggested Locations for Additional NYPD Traffic Enforcement

|
The Park Slope Patch and the Brooklyn Paper both reported this week that the 78th Precinct will soon be ticketing cyclists in Prospect Park, in response to two crashes in the past six months where cyclists injured pedestrians on a downhill slope of the park loop. Now that NYPD has shown a willingness to respond […]

Witness Account of Park Slope Collision Contradicts NYPD Victim-Blaming

|
A witness believes the driver who severely injured a 20-year-old cyclist Wednesday night in Park Slope T-boned the victim as he rode across Sixth Avenue in the Ninth Street bike lane with the right of way — contrary to NYPD’s claim that the victim was hit head-on while biking against traffic on Sixth Avenue. The crash happened at around 9 p.m. NYPD said […]

This Week: Lincoln Square, UES Intersection, Park Slope Safety

|
The first full week of 2014 is full of public meetings about Select Bus Service, traffic enforcement, street safety and more. Be sure to check the full calendar for a complete listing of events. Here are the highlights: Monday: Community board transportation committees take on street design near a busy uptown hospital (Manhattan CB 12), signage on Flatbush […]