Sunday, October 14, 2012

How Barclays Center operations rely on illegal, informal parking lanes on public streets; a cacophony of honking on residential South Portland Avenue

Yes, most people seem to be using subways and rail to get to the Barclays Center. Yes, police and traffic safety officers keep the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues from turning into gridlock, and manage turning cars so pedestrians don't get killed.

But the arena, at least when it has a full house and an audience that requires a good number of limos/taxis, has some significant underacknowledged spillover effects: clearly illegal (though allowed by police) informal parking/waiting lanes in traffic lanes along eastbound Atlantic Avenue and southbound South Portland Avenue.

Given that police and transportation officials also allow illegal idling/parking on residential streets, it seems like city officials have prioritized traffic flow and service to the arena over the interests of local residents.

And that congestion compounds congestion for through traffic, causing some to speed and even travel on the wrong side of the street. Notably, as detailed in the videos below, prompts a cacophony of honking, especially annoying for residents of residential South Portland Avenue just north of Atlantic--just past the northeast corner of the arena block.

In fact, a limo driver from New Jersey, who approached me at that contested corner to chat without knowing who I was, called the situation "terrible."

Unlike during the Jay-Z concerts, traffic agents did not stop westbound Atlantic Avenue traffic and divert it up residential South Portland Avenue. However, at several junctures, they waved westbound traffic to a halt despite green lights, trying to ensure that congestion did not build up along Atlantic Avenue just opposite the arena.

Congestion on Pacific Street

Also, as detailed in a video below and photo at right, the post-event scene on Pacific Street just east of the arena was also congested and loud, as a large crowd built up outside the Newswalk building, which has the nearest parking garage to the arena.

Vehicles exiting that residential building intersected with other vehicles, many of those leaving the surface parking lot just to the east, causing congestion and honking.

Lack of parking enforcement

Nor do police seem to be enforcing parking rules. As noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, numerous cars and limos were blocking hydrants, illegally idling at bus stops, or parking in No Parking and No Standing zones, just in a small area around St. Marks Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Bergen Street, Dean Street, and Flatbush Avenue.

I walked around before the event and saw several examples myself. Below is a video shot on Douglass just west of Fifth Avenue, with a vehicle parked in a No Standing zone at about 7:45 pm:



Flatbush and Third

A resident near Third Avenue and Flatbush commented on Atlantic Yards Watch:
Following Barbara Streisand concert traffic was jammed at 3rd and Flatbush Avenue. Cars were constantly honking to enter intersection until approximately 1AM. No sign of police directing traffic. Noise from honking could be heard in residences located several blocks away. Also, drivers escaping traffic jam were attempting to find alternative routes in Fort Greene, causing additional traffic jams and honking at Ashland Pl/Fulton.
The informal idling lanes

Limos idle along Atlantic Avenue, between Fort Greene Place and South Portland Avenue, 10:35-37 pm; they're in both the parking lane and the adjacent traffic lane:



Limos idle on Portland north of Atlantic, 10:40 pm, in both the parking lane and the traffic lane. That means the only open lane is the lane that indicates a left turn onto Atlantic:



A cacophony of honking

On South Portland, 10:49-53 pm, lots of honking as vehicles get impatient with a short light and a lack of maneuverability:



Shortly before the concert let out, at about 10:57 pm on South Portland, just north of Atlantic, the honking continues:



At Atlantic and South Portland

After the concert let out,  at 11:10-11:15 pm, there was lots of honking from southbound traffic on South Portland that was unable to cross or turn on Atlantic.

Traffic officers regularly stopped westbound traffic on Atlantic at South Portland, At about 2:10 of the video below, the limo driver from New Jersey approaches me to ask if this happens every time. I say only when it's a full house.

"This is terrible," he says.



At 11:20-11:25 pm at South Portland and Atlantic, the problems continue:



On Pacific Street

Below, there's congestion on Pacific Street near the Newswalk building caused by traffic as well as exiting vehicles from the parking garage bottleneck, 11:28-34 pm. There's honking and a large line, probably more than 100 people:



On Pacific Street

The below video was shot walking down Pacific Street from Newswalk to surface parking lot at Carlton Avenue. You can hear a lot of honking in the distance, at 11:40-45 pm.

Much of the surface parking lot traffic was gone. I did not hear any whistles blown by lot employees, as at the concert two days earlier. Perhaps operators recognized that could be disruptive. The lot, when i walked by earlier, was at least 80% full, but I didn't get there during peak operations.



Preparing for the event

Police gather at the subway entrance, 7 pm:

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