Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Local legislators, citing hazards at Atlantic/Flatbush intersection, ask DOT for fixes, including all-pedestrian phase

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and four other legislators have sent a letter (bottom) to New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan asking for fixes to increase safety at the long-contested intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

In the hours leading up to and following an event the intersections for three blocks around Barclays become extremely dangerous for pedestrians,” the letter states, suggesting that drivers focusing on parking ignore pedestrians, while traffic agents seem most concerned with moving traffic. “Members of our staff have been among those nearly run over by vehicles rushing through a right turn light at Atlantic and Flatbush.”

The letter was also signed by Council Members Letitia James and Steve Levin, and Assemblymembers Joan Millman and Walter Mosley.

The letter cites the long pedestrian crossings, the difficulty from turning on “northbound” [presumably westbound] Atlantic Avenue onto northbound Flatbush, and the delay in activation of the red signal going north on Flatbush.

The letter requests an extended time to cross, including a “Barnes Dance” that would stop vehicular traffic in every direction. Note that such an all-clear was part of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, as described below, but was dropped. (I queried the ESDC two days ago but didn’t hear back.)

The letter also requests that traffic personnel be required to focus on the role of pedestrians. I didn't contact DOT for a response yet, but would note that the agency is part of a post-opening study of arena-related traffic.

NYPD view

Last night, I asked Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri, commanding officer of the 78th Precinct, if he’d received any complaints about the Atlantic/Flatbush intersection.

While the intersection was “always problematic,” Ameri said “we don't have much of an issue with pedestrians crossing,” noting there had been no uptick in incidents involving pedestrians.

(In my observations during the opening weeks of the Barclays Center, I did notice an emphasis on getting traffic to move, though only the presence of traffic enforcement agents and pedestrian safety managers kept things safe for those crossing on foot.)

Most of the traffic hazard, proposed Precinct Council President Pauline Blake, has to do with the “dollar vans” that race up and down Flatbush. She asked Ameri how many summonses they get.

“We must write 10 summons a week,” Ameri said. “It's certainly an issue.”

The "Barnes Dance"


In October 2008, I cited plans disclosed in Chapter 19, Mitigation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement:
It is proposed to modify the Atlantic Avenue/Flatbush Avenue/4th Avenue intersection as shown
in Figure 19-1. ... Fourth Avenue northbound would terminate at Atlantic Avenue instead of at Flatbush Avenue... Terminating northbound 4th Avenue at Atlantic Avenue would eliminate the fixed linkage of Flatbush, Atlantic, and 4th Avenues, which currently results in queuing and effectively reduces each avenue’s capacity. Pedestrians would benefit from the expansion of pedestrian space at
Times Plaza and from the introduction of a new 35-second all-pedestrian phase at 4th Avenue/Flatbush Avenue/Hanson Place.
(Emphasis added)

Parking

The legislators' letter also pointed to many complains regarding limousines and livery cabs around the arena:
We strongly object to the decision to provide parking for these commercial vehicles on Atlantic Avenue between Carlton and Vanderbilt at the expense of parking for area residents who are already suffering the effects of the Barclays Center. it is deeply troubling that limousines and livery cabs are allowed to idle, park at hydrants and disobey parking regulations without repercussions. This policy is disrespectful to the community in list of the fact that Forest City Ratner’s parking lots are underutilized and can be easily used to provide dedicated parking for these commercial vehicles. It is unacceptable that the Department of Transportation acquiesce to a request for another unreported public subsidy for this enterprise.

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