Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Safety improvements "near" the Barclays Center, and the need for more; enforcement and tolls help, but what about Atlantic Yards?

Officials Unveil Pedestrian Safety Improvements Near Barclays Center, reported CBSNewYork yesterday. Actually, it's not so near the Barclays Center and Streetsblog more precisely reported it as Atlantic and Washington Gets Fixes, Now What About the Rest of Atlantic?

As Streetsblog reported:
The multi-leg intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Underhill Avenue has received its second round of street safety improvements in four years. Adding to a 2011 project that expanded pedestrian space, this latest set of changes includes new turn restrictions, crosswalks, and larger median islands [PDF]. Advocates welcomed the changes, but want DOT to think bigger when it comes to overhauling Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous arterial streets.
There are continuing problems, indeed, around the Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection actually near the Barclays Center.

As DNAinfo reported 7/14/15, there were more than 150 car crashes occurred in the immediate area around the Barclays Center from Jan. 1-July 7, according to the NYPD. Atlantic and Fourth avenues and Atlantic and Flatbush avenues each had 36 crashes, while Flatbush and Fourth, where a bicyclist had been recently killed, had 23 accidents.

The article did not drill down into causes and fixes.

On Fox5, Gridlock Sam

That DNAinfo article inspired as shown in this Fox 5 report, produced in late July--and taped from the TV by Wayne Bailey, a Prospect Heights resident, Community Board 8 member, and Atlantic Yards Watch contributor who appeared in the segment.

"You can come here at any morning and you'll see people blocking the crosswalks, and pedestrians have to walk into the traffic," Bailey says in the segment. Fox5 quotes the Department of Transportation as "aggressively redesigning the area," with significant drops in injuries and collisions.

One issue Bailey points out is the "toll-shopping" of truck drivers aiming to avoid paying to cross the river, which draws traffic through Brooklyn.

Oddly enough, the Fox5 report does not mentioned is any impact from arena operations, which draw periodic traffic surges, or Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park construction, which has narrowed Atlantic Avenue next to the arena, as well as Dean Street, Carlton Avenue, and Sixth Avenue--as well as the impact of trucks using local streets on their way to a truck route.

In fact, after the discussion of "toll-shopping," the segment went to the studio, where an anchor interviewed "transportation expert" "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz, without mentioning that his firm is a consultant to Forest City Ratner and the Barclays Center on their transportation plans.

"This is a complex problem, a problem created 150 years ago, when you had separate towns in Brooklyn, with different grid systems," Schwartz says. Sure, but it's a little more than that

Asked what's needed, Schwartz added that, once the tolls came off the bridges, truckers drive through Downtown Brooklyn to cross the free bridges rather than to pay to take tunnels or the Verrazano Bridge. He also cited the usefulness of red light cameras to slow traffic. He made no mention of the enormous project being constructed near that intersection.

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