Bed-Stuy CB Freaks Out Over Adding Pedestrian Space to Fulton and Utica

Giving more space to pedestrians at a busy transfer point between the bus and the subway? Brooklyn CB 3 isn't interested. Image: DOT [PDF]
Giving more space to pedestrians at a busy transfer point between the bus and the subway? Brooklyn CB 3 isn’t interested. Image: DOT [PDF]
Creating more space for pedestrians at a dangerous, crowded transfer point between bus lines and the subway — sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not at Brooklyn Community Board 3, where the default position is to reflexively reject even the smallest street safety change.

Fulton Street and Utica Avenue are both dangerous streets that the de Blasio administration has targeted at Vision Zero priority corridors in need of safety improvements. There were 58 traffic injuries at the intersection of the two streets between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT.

DOT is proposing to replace “slip lanes,” which allow drivers to make quick right turns from Fulton Street to Utica Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, with sidewalk extensions that would tighten turns and shorten crossing distances. The additional space would reduce exposure to motor vehicle traffic for people transferring between the B46, B25, and A/C trains [PDF].

Upon seeing the plan Monday night, CB 3 members recoiled, Camille Bautista of DNAinfo reports:

[C]ommunity members said it would bottleneck traffic coming from Atlantic Avenue. Other residents took issue with the elimination of turning lanes, which could add congestion on an already crowded Fulton Street.

“I know that you have your study, but your study really cannot compare to the study I have by using that intersection every day,” said board member C. Doris Pinn, who stressed the potential for more traffic jams and accidents.

The intersection tweaks complement the introduction of Select Bus Service on the B46, New York City’s second-busiest bus route, with nearly 50,000 passengers each day. Four miles of Utica Avenue would receive dedicated bus lanes in the plan, which also got panned at Monday’s CB 3 meeting. “To me it feels like you’re pushing this down the community’s throat,” one woman said, according to DNAinfo.

In the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Community District 3, more than two-thirds of households don’t own cars, according to the U.S. Census. The area is represented in the City Council by Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy, and Darlene Mealy, who each appoint members to CB 3, along with Borough President Eric Adams.

Last year, CB 3 stonewalled a 20 mph Slow Zone requested by neighborhood residents. DOT eventually decided not to extend the slow zone into CB 3’s turf after board chair Tremaine Wright dismissed street safety as a real concern.

Select Bus Service is scheduled to start late this summer or this fall, with related pedestrian safety improvements to be phased in after service begins.

  • Ian Turner

    “I know that you have your study, but your study really cannot compare to the study I have by using that intersection every day” — why do we tolerate this? Would this be acceptable behavior by neighborhood leaders if the topic was public health, weather, or history?

  • Is this a parody? A late April Fool’s post? Are these people for real?

  • This IS about public health!
    Questioning street safety as a “concern” is like questioning the validity of modern medicine and claiming that you can avoid hospitals for life and just eat a lot of kale to ward off disease

    If the BP isn’t going to remove these board members, can there at least be more work by city officials & electeds to sit down with them very frequently to bring them up-to-date on the actual stats & air out all of these misunderstandings BEFORE there are relevant public hearings costing the city’s agencies time & money?

  • qrt145

    I reject your reality and substitute my own.

  • Andres Dee

    Obtuse angled intersections and turn lanes like the ones in this case are an invitation to bully, injure and kill people who walk. In a neighborhood with seniors and children (and a school, to boot), why are they so desirable?

  • I’d love to know for how long Pinn uses that intersection each day. 5-8 seconds if she’s in a car? 25 seconds if she’s crossing both streets? Insane. I am at a loss for an explanation to how people can be so obtuse.

  • D’BlahZero

    Well, apparently whatever ‘data’ Ms. Pinn has on the intersection, it’s enough to qualify as a ‘study’ in her mind – and not just any study, but one that is >= the one(s) DOT has.

    I’m never surprised by any individual’s obtuseness. It is a bit of a shock, however, that this could stand as a reasonable position in public discourse, as appears to be the case here.

  • JudenChino

    This is Bed-Stuy, I’m glad (though mildly surprised) they didn’t resort to the class warfare arguments/deflections (you rich yuppies and your bikes!)

  • J

    It’s amazing how much bad policy comes out of NYC’s broken Community Board system.

  • BBnet3000

    Almost all CBs are stuck in a 1950s/60s mentality where wasting money on a car in the city is a status object. Don’t get in their way or you may literally die.

  • Reader

    Laurie Cumbo and Robert Cornegy are signed on to this legislation. It seems they value getting elected more than protecting people’s lives.

  • ““I know that you have your study, but your study really cannot compare to the study I have by using that intersection every day,” said board member C. Doris Pinn” I want to know why anyone listens to a person who’s this obviously stupid. She’s absolutely right, her study cannot compare with DOTs study, because one….is not a study.

  • Reader

    Another reason DOT is removing the slip lanes and pedestrian islands is because the islands aren’t ADA compliant. There’s no curb cut or ramp, so anyone in a wheelchair actually has to go around them to get the to curb, enhancing their exposure to turning cars. So here you have a CB prioritizing cars over actual ADA compliance and safer streets for the disabled. It’s disgusting.

  • fdtutf

    The DOT PDF says this on page 2: “Safety concerns were raised
    by elected officials and CB 3 representatives during walk through in May 2013”.

    Which CB 3 representatives were these, and where were they when the time came for this meeting?

  • Ian Turner

    You’re right, of course. But try to imagine if the conversation was about a zoning change to allow a doctor’s office, and C. Doris Pinn said that in her experience, medicine is not necessary because all you need is Prana. Would such an attitude be tolerated? I seriously doubt it. But here we are, as C. Doris Pinn can almost certainly expect to retain her board membership.

  • Ian Turner

    BTW this article is now the 4th-highest Google search result for “C. Doris Pinn”.

  • Alexander Schaefer

    I live in Bed-Stuy and I am extremely frustrated with CB3. I hope to see change in the future.

  • Tyson White

    The community board approval process is great in the fact that it gives more power to the people and is super democratic. It’s the reason we have safe bike lanes and SBS service in some neighborhoods. However, it’s creating disparities between neighborhoods (“two cities” if you will) when you have some communities with board members who aren’t the brightest people, or have personal selfish motives.

  • I realize an element of our critique is “the CBs are great unless they disagree with us and then they’re the worst.” But the process, even with CBs more or less supportive of Vision Zero, is painfully slow and largely inefficient while giving too much credence to the people who can be the loudest.

  • Some Asshole

    Ten extra seconds at that intersection or, shudder the thought, another light cycle, would literally be the worst thing to ever fall on a person. And we know anyone who’s anyone uses a car. They’ve got places to be!


  • Joe R.

    The problem here is that community boards are typically made up of people not at all representative of their community. In a district where 75% of households don’t have cars, the community board composition should reflect that, for example.

  • Tyson White

    And they aren’t even elected.

  • Joe R.

    I wish I could give this post 100 up votes. Too many community boards look like they have members old enough to remember those “See the USA — in your Chevrolet” commercials back when Eisenhower was President. I suppose all generations are guilty of idealizing what was new back in their youth to some extent but the Baby Boom generation seems to take this to new heights. I came of age in the late 1970s/early 1980s but I don’t recall a whole lot that was great about that era. Even the 1950s or early 1960s weren’t as idyllic as some from that generation made them out to be. You may have had the open road, and back then a car may have represented freedom to some degree, but neither was ever the case in big cities even in the 1950s. And during those same years the world was literally on the nuclear trigger. You also had companies freely dumping toxic waste. If you weren’t white or male back then things weren’t all that great for you. Frankly, the 1950s are best left in the dustbin of history, along with most other eras.

  • Tower18

    Not to turn this into a discussion about something else, but your hypothetical is dangerously close to *many* debates in politics/current events. See vaccines, evolution, climate change, etc.

    Unfortunately, substituting one’s anecdotes or opinions for fact, and being taken seriously by the body politic is quite common these days.

  • da troof

    we dont want outsiders coming in changing ANYTHING. We dont want special bus lanes, pedestrian plazas, or anything else that we didn’t ask for. whats so difficult to understand? we know the DOT and Planning need to feel like they are changing the city scape, but do your jobs elsewhere. if the city sent jobs our ways, as much as they send stupid plans, and lane changes, we might be too busy to notice the foolery being attempted. smh @ 20 mph zone.. as if we want more tickets…

  • da troof

    they do represent us. for 25% only owning cars, our blocks are full of parked cars. and if u think the 25% should be pushovers to planners as a result, u are mistaken. we want you to take your plans and do them in manhattan

  • da troof

    and therein lies the problem. i can tell by your name, that you just arrived in bed-stuy. try to learn the area, before you go trying to change things, or move back to where u came from. and take your dog with you. this is our biggest issue with our “new” residents.


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