Saturday, March 17, 2007

Clarifying the Community Board 6 committee vote, and the genesis of the DoT plan

Some commentary and reportage on the vote by the Community Board 6 Transportation Committee Thursday night overstated the opposition to the city Department of Transportation's plans to make Sixth and Seventh avenues one-way.

The Brooklyn Paper offered the headline Board votes down one-way proposal. On Streetsblog, Aaron Naparstek wrote that the committee "fully and unequivocally rejected" the proposal.

Actually, as reported in this blog, as well as by Robert Guskind in the Gowanus Lounge and Neil deMause in the Village Voice online, the committee, expressing disapproval, voted to table discussion on the plans until further talks with DoT and implementation of community-requested changes. The DoT's plans for Fourth Avenue were similarly put on hold.

The motions

District Manager Craig Hammerman yesterday forwarded the motions to various parties. They will be presented for a vote to the full Community Board at their next meeting, on April 11th.

Motion 1: CB6 thanks DOT for their efforts to improve pedestrian safety and facilitate the flow of traffic in and around Park Slope as dialogue and discussions are always beneficial; however, we request that DOT not proceed with their proposal to convert 6th and 7th Avenues from two-way to one-way streets at this time because there are too many questions about the impact of this change and how it would affect the neighborhood's traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

We further request that DOT continue to work with the Community Board and the Park Slope community in resolving Park Slope's very real traffic and pedestrian safety problems. For example, the perceived/actual high rate of speed of vehicles traveling on 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West, and the congested Union Street approach to the Grand Army Plaza. By working more closely with the Community Board and community we are committing to work with DOT to produce an improved set of remedies and actions designed to further enhance pedestrian safety and facilitate the safe movement of vehicles within our community.


Motion 2: CB6 would table making a recommendation on the 4th Avenue proposal until after such time as we have had a chance to engage DOT in a more comprehensive discussion of the traffic planning needs and challenges facing the Park Slope community.

The plan's genesis

I asked DoT spokeswoman Kay Sarlin how the plan was developed, and when. Her response:
According to [Deputy Commissioner] Mike Primeggia the trigger for developing the proposal was a desire to implement safety improvements in our continuing effort to reduce accidents and make the city streets safer for all road users. In addition DOT recognized that the substandard turn bays on 4th Avenue and the extremely narrow width of 6th Avenue in the section between Carroll Street and Flatbush Avenue made these two corridors in particular most appropriate for intervention. Our work on developing this proposal however began in earnest in the late Summer of 2006.

Note Naparstek's skepticism of the safety rationale.

A parallel case?

Primeggia also said Thursday night that, after making a Brooklyn street one-way, crashes had declined 15% and total injuries 22%. That street, according to Sarlin, is the 1.5 mile stretch of Glenmore Avenue between Euclid and Pennsylvania Avenues, in East New York.

How much that's a direct parallel to Seventh Avenue in Park Slope will undoubtedly be the subject of more discussion.

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