Legacy of Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Advocates Continues

A bit more background on the generous neckdown at Smith and Bergen spotlighted earlier today: This pedestrian amenity never would have been built without the long-term organizing for the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project. Street protests and advocacy campaigns stretching back more than a dozen years are bearing fruit now.

And advocates are still on their game, pushing for more. This slideshow comes from Dave "Paco" Abraham, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn Committee who’s had his eye on the corner of Smith and Bergen in particular. "I always thought that intersection needed something," he said. Thousands of commuters pass through the subway entrances on these corners every day. You’ve got students walking to schools on Bergen and customers heading to the restaurant row on Smith. They’re all contending with traffic that tends to accelerate on the excessively wide Bergen as drivers try to make the light at Court Street.

When Abraham heard the city was moving on a big slate of downtown Brooklyn traffic calming measures, he drew up a letter urging the maximum possible sidewalk extension and the addition of bike parking at the northwest corner of the intersection. He met with more than a dozen merchants in the immediate vicinity and asked them to sign on. "I don’t think there
was a place I went to that said no," he says. "It was tremendous." He also garnered support from local civic groups and the two nearest schools — the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School and the Mary McDowell Learning Center.

It’s hard to say precisely what effect Abraham’s campaign had on the final outcome at this intersection. But there’s a lot more sidewalk real estate here than at your typical curb extension, and, at the very least, DOT knew there was widespread local support for something ambitious, thanks to his organizing. DOT is considering the addition of bike parking, a spokesman told Streetsblog earlier this week.

If you’re interested in putting together a similar campaign for a specific intersection, Abraham has a whole tutorial about building momentum for a "bike parking swap" posted on the Livable Streets Community site.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project: Ten Years On

|
March 1996: Residents in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Boerum Hill are tired of their streets absorbing overflow from the nearby Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Neighborhood groups have tried repeatedly to convince the City to protect the neighborhoods from rush hour through traffic. So far, the City has done nothing but promise further study. DOT […]

Having it Both Ways in the “Atlantic Yards” DEIS

|
Combing through the massive Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the "Atlantic Yards" project in Brooklyn, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has found at least four instances of the strange, Hamlet-like soliloquy, exemplified below.  "During this period, it is anticipated that the DOT will implement traffic calming measures developed as part of the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming […]

Why Wasn’t Traffic-Calming Built on Third Avenue?

|
DOT has gotten back to me with some answers.   As Streetsblog reported Monday, New York City’s Department of Transportation failed to follow through on a 2004 pledge to build potentially life-saving pedestrian safety improvements along the Third Avenue corridor where a 4-year-old boy was run over and killed last Tuesday. Streetsblog asked DOT why […]

Sneckdowns: The Early Years

|
Before there were hashtags and #sneckdowns, there was Michael King, taking pictures of residual snow on NYC street corners. A principal with Nelson\Nygaard, King is an architect by training and a pioneer of traffic calming street design in the United States. He captured these images to show how much asphalt can easily be claimed to […]

Plan Urged Safety Measures for Intersection Where Boy Died

|
The May 2003 final report of the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project recommended pedestrian safety measures designed specifically to prevent the kind of collision that killed a four-year-old boy in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn on Tuesday afternoon.  A graphic from the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project final plan showing pedestrian safety recommendations for Third […]

DOT Pledged Ped Safety Fixes by 2006 on Deadly Third Ave

|
New York City’s Department of Transportation failed to follow through on a 2004 pledge to build potentially life-saving pedestrian safety improvements along the Third Avenue corridor where a 4-year-old boy was run over and killed last Tuesday. DOT’s announcement of $4 million in funding for the installation of "median extensions, neckdowns and other traffic-calming" measures […]