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Nets Fans Get No Assist From Atlantic Yards’ Shrinking Sidewalks

In June we wondered whether Forest City Ratner would make the most of the Barclays Center's potential as a destination for pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists. Recent developments are less than encouraging.

Gib Veconi noted a couple of weeks back on Atlantic Yards Watch that a July proposal from Ratner to NYC DOT regarding bollard placement shows that sidewalks around the arena may be much narrower than what Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation originally led the public to believe.

"Effective width" refers to the portion of the sidewalk used by pedestrians for travel after a buffer zone (or "shy distance") on each side of the sidewalk is subtracted from its design width. A 1999 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation describes the shy distance as two feet on each side of the sidewalk.

According to the FCR plans, among the sidewalks other than those next to the pedestrian plaza in front of Barclays Center, three of four have narrower effective widths than were analyzed in the project's 2006 environmental impact statement.

Veconi notes that the sidewalk on the south side of Atlantic Avenue east of the arena entrance now has an effective width of 5.5 feet, or 40 percent of the 13.5 feet presented in the EIS. "This sidewalk will presumably be traveled by large groups of arena patrons leaving the Atlantic Avenue exit en route to arena parking to the east, and borders busy Atlantic Avenue. No bollards are shown to be installed along this section of sidewalk."

In addition, Veconi points out that the Dean Street bike lane will be situated between a thru-traffic lane and parking bays designated for pick-ups and drop-offs, putting cyclists in the path of merging vehicles.

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Public comments on the Ratner bollard plan will be accepted through September 22. See Veconi's post for more info and links to numerous relevant docs.

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