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Posts from the "Traffic Calming" Category

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Eric Adams Calls on Brooklyn Community Board 3 to Back Bed-Stuy Slow Zone

After a setback at Brooklyn Community Board 3 in February, Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill residents asking for a 20 mph Slow Zone stepped up their organizing efforts. But a last-minute decision by CB 3 chair Tremaine Wright has stalled any action by the board until at least September. Faced with Wright’s obstruction, advocates turned to Borough President Eric Adams, who wants the project to move forward.

“I’m in support of the Bed-Stuy Slow Zone, and I will work in partnership with Community Board 3 to expedite this action,” Adams said in a statement. “The only thing that should be speeding in this community and others is the approval and implementation of these slow zones.”

The Slow Zone had been on the agenda for CB 3′s general board meeting Monday night, but the item was struck before the meeting, the last one before the board’s summer break. “[DOT was] going to come back, but the board changed its mind,” assistant district manager Beryl Nyack said. Nyack referred questions about who made the decision to Wright, who has not replied to requests for comment.

Wright is a co-founder of the Brooklyn Alliance for Safer Streets. The group ”educates and advocates for roadways which promote walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation,” according to a description on its Facebook page. “BASS provides community residents and leaders with the tools to envision and create a safer and healthier urban streetscape.”

Despite this role, Wright told Streetsblog after the board voted against the Slow Zone in February that traffic safety is “not an issue in our community, by and large.”

Supporters of the Slow Zone say the board is opposing the project for the wrong reasons. Leah Bassknight has lived on the corner of Jefferson Street and Franklin Avenue for the past decade and has a 7-year-old son. She doesn’t agree with CB 3′s opposition to the Slow Zone. “I think their concern is that this is not a real concern of people who live in the community — just of parents whose kids go to the Waldorf School,” she said. “People who live in the community and don’t attend that school care about this.”

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Community Boards Split on Franklin Avenue Road Diet and Bike Lane

A proposal to enhance safety on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, which would put the street on a road diet and extend a painted bike lane one mile further south, is stuck in a tale of two community boards. CB 8, which covers the northern half of the project, is set to back the plan after its transportation committee voted 9-1 in support on Tuesday. CB 9, covering the area below Eastern Parkway, narrowly rejected the plan at a general board meeting last week, though the board’s district manager says it will likely come up again for another vote next month. The vote was a surprise coming from CB 9, which has a track record of urging the city to retrofit streets with bike lanes.

A road diet and bike lane could be coming to Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. Image: DOT

A road diet and bike lane could be coming to Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. Image: DOT

This stretch of Franklin Avenue is 34 feet wide and currently has one dotted line down the middle, with one parking lane and one travel lane on each half of the street. The narrow moving lanes leave little room for drivers to share space with cyclists — or even other drivers. Requests from the Crow Hill Community Association in 2011 and Assembly Member Walter Mosley in 2013 prompted DOT to take a look at the street. On April 2, the agency hosted a public workshop with members from both community boards to come up with solutions.

The plan [PDF] swaps the narrow two-lane configuration for an 11-foot travel lane, a striped five-foot bike lane, and nine-foot parking lanes on either side. The street would retain two car lanes for two blocks between St. John’s Place and Eastern Parkway to leave space for drivers to queue up before the light at Eastern Parkway.

Combined with changes to better coordinate the signal timing along Franklin for southbound traffic, DOT says the new configuration will have plenty of room for existing car traffic.

The plan also restricts left turns from westbound Atlantic Avenue to Franklin and would expand the concrete median on Atlantic to shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and slow drivers turning left onto Atlantic from Franklin.

“Our membership did have some concerns about eliminating the left turn from Atlantic to Franklin,” said CB 8 transportation committee co-chair Rob Witherwax in an email, but he noted that pedestrian safety improvements for residents crossing the 100-foot wide arterial street “will be well worth it.” DOT says the diverted car traffic, which it counted at no more than 83 vehicles per hour, can easily be absorbed on nearby streets.

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Eyes on the Street: Bikeway Upgrade Calms Deadly Stretch of Kent Avenue

A missing link in the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is turning green. Photo: Frank Hebbert

A stretch of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route along Kent Avenue turned green last week. Photo: Frank Hebbert

A project that slims a dangerous section of Kent Avenue in South Williamsburg and straightens out an awkward stretch of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route is nearing the finish line.

In March 2013, Julio Acevedo was driving north on Kent Avenue at 69 mph when he killed Raizy and Nathan Glauber, both 21, in a two-car crash at Wilson Street. Acevedo fled the scene and later faced charges, including criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter.

The deaths spurred changes. DOT installed traffic signals at Wilson and Hooper Streets, and last January Community Board 1 supported a plan to replace parking on the west side of the street with a two-way bikeway, while adding parking along the median on the east side to slow northbound traffic.

The plan also improves the continuity of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route. Previously, the two-way bike lane on Kent jogged awkwardly, directing northbound cyclists to hop onto a sidewalk path between Williamsburg Street West and Division Avenue, while southbound cyclists had a painted lane between parked cars and motor vehicle traffic. The new arrangement creates a route where cyclists’ paths don’t criss-cross, bike traffic stays off the sidewalk, and the bikeway is separated from cars with flexible posts. Time will tell if those posts are enough to prevent the sidewalk parking extravaganzas that occasionally overwhelm this part of Kent Avenue.

With the reconstruction of Flushing Avenue planned for this fall, there will soon be three miles of continuous two-way bikeway from North 14th Street in Greenpoint to Navy Street near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge.

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Brooklyn CB 2 Committee Unanimously Backs Park Avenue Safety Fixes

Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene will get a road diet for eastbound traffic, among other measures. Image: DOT

Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, which runs beneath the BQE, will get a road diet for eastbound traffic, among other changes. Image: DOT

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 2′s transportation committee unanimously supported a set of traffic calming measures on Park Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, including a road diet for eastbound traffic [PDF]. The proposal from DOT comes after years of advocacy from local residents and organizations fed up with speeding and dangerous conditions on the roadway beneath the Brooklyn Queens Expressway viaduct.

The one-mile stretch of Park Avenue between Navy Street and Flushing Avenue ranks in the worst third of Brooklyn streets for traffic crashes, with nearly three in four drivers speeding, according to DOT, which clocked drivers going as fast as 52 mph.

A third of crashes on Park are right-angle collisions, usually involving a driver running a red light. These types of crashes are so common that a supermarket at the corner of Park and Washington Avenues captured two of them on camera within 20 days last winter, including one where a driver plowed through the store’s front door and into the produce section.

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Pedestrian Injuries Down Nearly 30% After 4th Ave Road Diet in Sunset Park

Photo: NYC DOT

With paint, epoxy, and gravel, DOT widened skinny medians to make safer crossings on Fourth Avenue. Pedestrian injuries have dropped 29 percent following the redesign. Photo: NYC DOT

A year and a half after implementing a road diet on 50 blocks of Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, DOT returned to the Brooklyn Community Board 7 transportation committee last night with a report on how the redesign has affected safety. The results are positive: More people are walking on Fourth Avenue, while speeding, crashes, and pedestrian injuries are all down significantly [PDF].

Speeding is down on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. So are crashes, injuries and fatalities. Image: DOT

Speeding is down on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park. So are crashes, injuries and fatalities. Image: DOT

DOT implemented the road diet between August and December of 2012, converting Fourth Avenue from three lanes in each direction to two, adding turn restrictions, widening pedestrian medians, and expanding the width of the parking lanes. For its study, DOT looked at crash, speed, and traffic data for the 12 months before and after the road diet was implemented.

Over that period, total crashes have dropped 13 percent, crashes with injuries have decreased 8 percent, and pedestrian injuries have decreased 29 percent. Before the road diet, 47 percent of drivers were speeding. After the road diet, the proportion of drivers speeding shrank to 29 percent.

In the six years before the road diet, there were seven fatalities along this section of Fourth Avenue. There was one death while the road diet was being implemented in late 2012, and none in the 17 months since.

Pedestrian activity has ticked up slightly at intersections along Fourth Avenue, and motorist travel times have remained mostly steady. Northbound trips during the morning rush hour now average 15 seconds shorter than before, while southbound evening rush hour trips take an average of 88 seconds longer over the 2.5-mile route.

DOT is already planning to build out the design using concrete, with a capital project from 33rd Streets to 47th Street partially funded. DOT is looking for additional funds, and CB 7 transportation committee chair Ryan Lynch suggested the board ask Council Member Carlos Menchaca to use discretionary funds to support the project. Eventually, DOT hopes to reconstruct all of Fourth Avenue between 65th Street in Bay Ridge and Atlantic Avenue in Park Slope.

DOT noted in its presentation that the final design for Fourth Avenue has yet to be determined, but it’s likely that it will mirror the paint-and-planters design that’s resulted in the significant safety gains described last night.

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“The Better Block” Celebrates Four Years of Re-imagining Streets

Streetfilms has wanted to profile Jason Roberts and the amazing work of The Better Block for a long time. So it felt like destiny when, a few weeks ago, we were able to sync up and chronicle the fourth anniversary of The Better Block in Oak Cliff, Texas.  This temporary pedestrian plaza is right next to the original site where Roberts and the team at The Better Block first showed how you can completely transform a street using temporary materials and your imagination.

In this Streetfilm you’ll see some of the behind-the-scenes set-up and preparation. You’ll see how, in short order, they transform a dangerous intersection into a safe street with a barebones budget — including an incredibly inventive application of decals to create temporary crosswalks.

The Better Block approach to re-imagining sidewalk amenities seems to be catching on. In San Francisco, the Castro neighborhood will be getting rainbow crosswalks. Then, in the guerrilla striping tradition, an anonymous someone altered the bars on a Hawaii crosswalk overnight to read “Aloha.”

Check this map for a look at all the work Roberts has done with Better Block, and its impact around the world has inspired dozens of similar projects around the world.

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Morningside Ave. Road Diet Set for July After CB 10 Chair Urges Support

After nine months of foot-dragging, CB 10 is on track to support a traffic calming plan requested by community residents. Image: DOT

With new, clear marching orders from chair Henrietta Lyle after nine months of stalled deliberations, Community Board 10′s transportation committee voted unanimously last night to support a road diet plan [PDF] for a speeding-plagued stretch of Morningside Avenue. Pending expected support from the full board next month, DOT is scheduled to implement the safer street design in July.

Previously, the board’s transportation committee, which has been sitting on the plan since last September, had refused to support anything that included a reduction in the number of car lanes, because some members opposed other road diets on Mount Morris Park West and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The local residents who had requested the safety fixes gathered 1,000 petition signatures and the backing of neighborhood schools, churches, and community groups, and last night they finally had a breakthrough at the committee.

Board member Daniel Land Parcerisas introduced a resolution that expressed concern about road diets while supporting the plan for Morningside Avenue. “It’s really about time. We’ve dragged our feet way too long on this issue,” he said. Despite his plea, the committee’s discussions took a familiar turn as board members opposed to the road diet suggested non-starters like speed humps instead and raised questions that had been addressed months ago.

Frustration mounted among the plan’s supporters. “If you don’t pass this plan, you’re doing nothing,” said Jonathon Kahn, a steering committee member of the North Star Neighborhood Association, which requested safety fixes from the city. ”DOT will not put in speed bumps across a four-lane road. So for anyone to continue to ask for something that DOT will not do and cannot do, is to do nothing.”

Soon afterwards, Lyle walked in and seated herself. “We really need this to pass tonight,” she told the committee. “The community wants this. We may not want this, but we are going to support the community.”

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Manhattan CB 10 Continues to Oppose Safety Overhaul for Morningside Ave

Wednesday night, Manhattan Community Board 10 in Harlem continued to obstruct a street redesign that could save lives. A safety overhaul for speeding-plagued Morningside Avenue, requested by local residents and developed by DOT, has been stalled as the board refuses to back any plan that includes a reduction in the number of car lanes. In a near-repeat of a board meeting in February, CB 10 sent the issue back to committee, where it has languished since last September. Meanwhile, the board has established a Vision Zero task force, even as it opposes street safety measures.

The Morningside Avenue stalemate continues at CB 10. Photo: DOT

The Morningside stalemate continues at CB 10. Photo: DOT

Key board members are convinced that road diets on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Mount Morris Park West have been failures. Last night, CB 10 chair Henrietta Lyle described those streets as having “extreme problems” and “hazardous conditions” as a result of the road diets. In fact, a study of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard found that speeding was reduced, travel times improved, and crashes dropped by nearly one-third after the road diet was implemented [PDF].

Lyle claims that she wants DOT to move ahead with improvements for Morningside Avenue, just not the plan that’s on the table. “We need them to take some action now,” Lyle said. “We don’t want DOT to use anyone as a scapegoat for why they’re not fixing the problem.”

The problem is that the board has ruled out the kind of redesign that has been proven to prevent injuries and save lives on similar streets. CB 10 wants speed humps and traffic signals, not a road diet. DOT says the road is too wide for speed humps and traffic volumes too light to justify traffic signals – which can make a street more dangerous anyway.

Community Board 9, which also includes Morningside Avenue, has already backed the road diet plan, but DOT is bending to CB 10′s opposition and developing an alternative plan to be presented in the coming months.

“An alternative plan that doesn’t include lane reductions, doesn’t include traffic lights, and doesn’t include speed humps? Sure, I’d like to see that,” said road diet supporter Elise Merrow, who lives on 114th Street near Manhattan Avenue and along with her neighbors has gathered more than 1,000 signatures from neighborhood residents calling for the road diet.

CB 10 is not monolithic. While the stalemate continues on street safety redesigns, a Vision Zero task force is taking shape within the board, comprised of the heads of the health, transportation, education, economic development, land use, and housing committees.

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Tonight: Big Changes Proposed for Intersection Where Ella Bandes Was Killed

Curb extensions, new crosswalks and turn bans could be coming to this deadly intersection on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Image: DOT

Curb extensions, new crosswalks and turn bans could be coming to this deadly intersection on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Image: DOT

Last year, 23-year-old Ella Bandes was killed by a turning MTA bus driver at a complex intersection on the Queens-Brooklyn border. On the anniversary of her death in January, her parents called on DOT to implement more aggressive street safety measures. Tonight, DOT is scheduled to present a plan to Queens Community Board 5′s transportation committee, including new crosswalks, curb extensions and turn bans [PDF].

DOT already installed brighter street lighting beneath the elevated train in January and added pedestrian countdown clocks. “I thought they were just going to improve the lighting and do as little as possible,” said Judy Kottick, Ella’s mother. “But they’re adding a crosswalk, they’re shortening crossing distances.”

The plan would add painted curb extensions at most of the intersection’s corners. It also calls for a new crosswalk across Myrtle Avenue in the middle of the intersection, to match a route many pedestrians already follow. An existing crosswalk across Myrtle Avenue on the intersection’s east side would be widened significantly, and all crosswalks will receive new high-visibility zebra markings under the plan.

The multi-leg intersection, at the transfer point between an elevated train and a subway, is also a hub for bus routes in both boroughs. A 2007 DOT Ridgewood transportation study [PDF] found that the corner where Ella was killed had the neighborhood’s highest pedestrian volumes.

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Grand Concourse Will Be the Next Arterial With 25 MPH Limit

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj unveil the city's second "arterial slow zone" this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj unveil the city’s second “arterial slow zone” this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Local elected officials and advocates joined NYC DOT and NYPD this morning to unveil the city’s second “arterial slow zone” on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where speed limits will be dropped to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed to discourage speeding.

The lower speed limit will apply to 5.2 miles of the Grand Concourse from East 140th Street in Mott Haven to Moshulu Parkway in Bedford Park. Along this stretch of the Grand Concourse, there were 12 fatalities between 2008 and 2012, including seven pedestrians, according to DOT. Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City.

“This is not the Daytona 500,” said Assembly Member José Rivera at this morning’s event. “We should consider placing speed cameras all along the Grand Concourse.”

That’s unlikely to happen immediately. State law limits speed cameras to streets with school entrances within a quarter-mile, prevents them from operating overnight and on weekends, and caps the number at 20 cameras. (DOT has five cameras running and hopes to bring the remainder online this spring.)

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