Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Atlantic Yards Watch: as limos/black cars continue to illegally park/idle, a look at Transportation Demand Management plan suggests failure to anticipate problem

Hey, remember that New York Times article six weeks ago on the "new normal," how the Barclays Center had become a magnet for yellow cabs?

I tweeted to the author that the arena had also become a magnet for black cars and limos, idling on residential streets. After all, Atlantic Yards Watch has been full of such incident reports, especially during one-off events like concerts that attract high rollers, and the issue was raised at the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting last week.

83 violations?

Now two posts on AYW advance the story. First, during a 75-minute stretch on the evening of the 12/5/12 Andrea Bocelli concert, AYW identified 83 likely violations, 64 for illegal parking and 19 for idling (note that idling needs to last 3 minutes before sanctions):

The western boundary was 5th Avenue in Park Slope and Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene; the southern boundary was St. Mark's in Park Slope and Dean in Prospect Heights. The eastern boundary in Prospect Heights was Vanderbilt at Dean, and otherwise Carlton Avenue. The eastern boundary in Fort Greene was South Portland. The northern boundary was Hanson Place.
Meanwhile, while a staging area for such limos is now available on Atlantic Avenue east of Sixth Avenue (to Carlton or to Vanderbilt, depending on whom you ask), there have still been steady reports about illegal parking and idling, compounded by "loss of space planned for drop-off of taxi and limosine passengers."

Was the plan flawed?

AYW's Gib Veconi, a prominent critic of the free staging area for limos, writes that Forest City Ratner "had reason to believe the TDM [Transportation Demand Management] strategies would not be effective in reducing travel to the arena by limousine," given a study relied on by consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE).

Veconi notes that, while those likely to drive to events at the Barclays Center turned toward public transit when told about the difficulty in finding parking near the arena, the percentage likely to take limos went up slightly--understandable, given that finding parking wasn't their problem.

The number and percentage increase seemed small, with a total of only 45 trips, but Veconi points out that doesn't fit with "the Barclays Center marketing plan, which heavily promotes the venue’s luxury seating and dining options... a total capacity of 1,316 in premium seating and dining areas."

His recommendation: a revamped TDM, including the seemingly absent SSE, and a recognition that the current solution--the staging area--should not be permanent, since it takes public space.

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