Eyes on the Street: Pedestrian Life Rafts in the Flatbush/Atlantic Asphalt Ocean

A newly-installed median on Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Terminal and the Barclays Center. Photo: David Meyer
A newly-installed median on Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Terminal and the Barclays Center. Photo: David Meyer

There’s a little more protection for pedestrians crossing the street around Atlantic Terminal and the Barclays Center.

Atop the borough’s largest transit hub, the many-legged intersection of Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues is the crossroads of Brooklyn, but it’s extremely hazardous, especially if you’re walking or biking. The streets are designed to keep traffic flowing to and from the free East River bridges, and they meet at irregular angles, forcing pedestrians to traverse long, angled crosswalks. There are no bike lanes on any of these major streets.

Now, at least, there are four new pedestrian islands at Atlantic and Flatbush.

Flatbush and Atlantic, pictured last summer. Photo: Google Maps
Flatbush and Atlantic last summer. Photo: Google Maps

The concrete islands are certainly an improvement over what existed before — i.e. nothing. They break up the crossing for pedestrians and give drivers some physical objects to avoid. But without more substantial overhauls of Flatbush and Atlantic that reduce the number of car lanes, these fixes can only go so far [PDF].

In 2016, DOT and Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner presented plans for public space improvements at Times Plaza, which sits at the convergence of the three avenues. Local residents and elected officials pushed the city to make concrete pedestrian safety improvements to the area before inviting more people to hang out at the plaza.

Except for a sidewalk extension on Fourth Avenue, the improvements labeled in blue here have all gone in. Image: DOT
Except for a sidewalk extension on Fourth Avenue, the improvements labeled in blue here have all gone in. Image: DOT
Atlantic Avenue at Fort Greene Place. Photo: David Meyer
Atlantic Avenue at Fort Greene Place. Photo: David Meyer
The intersection previously had no median and hard concrete barriers separate each direction of traffic. Photo: Google Maps
The intersection previously had no median, just concrete barriers separating each side of Atlantic. Photo: Google Maps

The one leg of the intersection that will be getting an extra multi-modal safety boost is Fourth Avenue. DOT’s upcoming redesign of Fourth Avenue will include a curbside protected bike lane on at least one side of the street south of Atlantic.

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