CB 7 Approves 50-Block Ped Safety Project for Sunset Park’s Fourth Ave

In an overwhelming 31-2 vote (with three abstentions), Brooklyn Community Board 7 passed a motion last night in favor of re-engineering Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park for greater safety. The NYC DOT project [PDF] will add a substantial amount of pedestrian space at intersections from 65th Street to 15th Street, widening medians and narrowing crossing distances on the 88-foot wide street.

Image: NYC DOT

This stretch of Fourth Avenue, currently three moving lanes in each direction plus turn bays, is one of the deadliest streets in Brooklyn, with seven pedestrians killed in traffic between 2006 and 2011. Some of the current medians are less than two feet wide. Under the plan, the narrowest medians would at least triple in width, and wider ones would expand too. The pedestrian space will be reclaimed by converting 17-foot wide combined parking and travel lanes on each side of the street into 13-foot wide parking lanes, though three travel lanes will be maintained northbound during the morning rush, from 38th Street to 17th Street. The changes would be implemented with low-cost materials — epoxy, gravel, planters, flexible posts — and DOT can complete them by this fall.

At a hearing hosted by CB 7’s Fourth Avenue Working Group on Monday, neighborhood advocates said the changes were a long time coming.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the environmental justice non-profit UPROSE, said she could remember discussing traffic calming and greener infrastructure for Fourth Avenue with CB 7 district manager Jeremy Laufer 15 years ago. “This is not new,” she said, urging the board to vote for the plan. “We’ve been talking about these things for a long time in Sunset Park. If we miss the opportunity, we might not get these improvements.”

Lined with schools, subway stations, churches, and stores, Fourth Avenue is full of destinations for this bustling neighborhood of predominantly car-free households. DOT has been working intensively with neighborhood groups and local schools to develop the Fourth Avenue plan. A workshop in February brought together English-, Spanish-, Cantonese-, and Mandarin-speakers to gather ideas about what needs to change on the avenue.

“Almost everyone who goes to school on Fourth Avenue walks there,” said project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth. “The narrowness of the medians came out over and over in the workshops.”

Last week, three children were struck by a turning driver at Fourth Avenue and 44th Street, one of whom was injured. The crash was fresh in the minds of several participants at Monday’s hearing, including Yesenia Malave-Lee, PTA president at P.S. 503, who said the threat of traffic violence looms over every parent walking their kids to school on Fourth Avenue. “I’m all for the changes being made here,” she said.

  • Guest

    It’s a great initiative and move in the right direction for sure.  However, they should have considered widening the sidewalks or adding bike amenities instead of widening the already-existing curb at the middle of the streets.  Sure they will be taking some space away from cars, but they will also be taking it away from everybody essentially.  You can’t really do much with that space between the curb and the flexible posts.  And it also doesn’t look very aesthetically pleasing.  

    I’m not talking about the sections that fall within the pedestrian crossing; obviously the islands offer a nice refuge for people who might not have made it across on one green phase, etc.  

  • J

    It is great to see such a strong showing of support this project. One very exciting part about this plan is that it keeps 4th Ave at 2 lanes in each direction consistently from Bay Ridge all the way to Park Slope. This will have a very real impact on reducing speeding in the area. Lives will certainly be saved.

    In terms of safety, this points to the next obvious project, which is extending these improvements along the rest of 4th Ave, from 15th St to Flatbush. Speeding is certainly a problem on that stretch as well, and could be dealt with in much the same manner. This could also set a really strong precedent for improving other deadly streets in the city (Ahem, Atlantic Ave).

  • Guest 2

    waste of money!

  • HamTech87

    @bffc67a89f9d24f9a98679a8b2780935:disqus I was wondering the same thing about the bike lanes, especially since there are a lot of bicyclists in the Latino community in Sunset Park.  
    But I’ve been on 4th, and the kids walk in big groups.  Those medians are very narrow and don’t hold a lot of people.    As much as I’d love a bike lane, maybe this is the right call for this context?  

  • fj

    Really nice.  That’s 2.5 miles.  Will be a great start for safe cycling in a major underserved area; much thanks yes! ; but, we need lots more ASAP to start turning NYC to the first modern net zero transit center of the world. 

  • fj

     Guest 2: “waste of money”

    Like the one-half trillion dollars annual subsidies to the cash rich and mature fossil fuel industry is money well spent? 

    Sounds like you’ve been watching Fox News and actually believing it.

    Enjoy your Murdoch News while you can; if you haven’t heard, it’s quite possible that it won’t be around much longer spread its ongoing lies. 

    In England affiliated company News Corp. reporters bribed police, Army, and defense ministry officials-and possibly other British officeholders-to win scoops and perhaps other business favors.  That means the evidence that turns up could form the basis of charges in the United States against News Corp. and its employees or executives under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars American-based companies from paying off “foreign officials” in order “to obtain or retain business.”

  • Guest 2

    @ fj…. its a wa$te of money.

  • Guest 2

    @ Guest. The islands dont really offer any refuge when you at a narrow space for the pedestrians. The 4th Avenue design is terrible currently.

  • Guest

    @ Guest 2  Compared to widening the sidewalk, the new design isn’t going to offer a great refuge for pedestrians, which is why I didn’t think the idea was optimal.  Plus that space is taken away from everybody.  That being said, it does shorten the distance that pedestrians need to cross within the road where they could potentially encounter motorist.  So it may not be the most optimal use of money, but by no means do I think it’s a waste. It’s just a smaller step forward to a more people-friendly environment.   

  • Guest 2

    @ Guest, the best solution re-sync the crosswalk signal to 60 or 90 seconds.  DOT needs to go back to the drawing board.

  • J

    @2fbdd773b2fe89a463b45642b769691f:disqus Giving peds more time to cross the street is great, but it doesn’t reduce speeding, it doesn’t reduce aggressive driving, and it doesn’t give walkers who still can’t make it all the way across in one cycle a safe place to wait in the median. This plan does. It’s not perfect, but it is certainly not a waste of money, and in fact is being done at relatively little expense.

  • Mark Walker

    Fifty blocks is more than just tokenism. It’s quite a sweeping change. Kudos to DOT for proposing it and the CB for voting yes.

  • Anonymous

    remove this at once you have no right to do this the hell with the the cb they  dont  speak for the homeowners this is garbage mess,  traffic is worse dot does nothing but removing lanes and causeing headaches for drivers