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Arena consultant Schwartz says it's fine to shut down Atlantic Avenue after events (but it's a bug, not a feature)

Transportation Nation leans on Barclays Center transportation consultant Sam Schwartz, in 19,000 Seats + Almost No Parking = More Foot Than Car Traffic at Barclays Arena:
Jay-Z has been playing sold-out concerts at the 19,000-seat Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn and, so far, the biggest traffic problem has been caused by crowds of people coming up from the Atlantic Avenue subway stop and streaming across the street to the arena before the shows. So few people are driving, the scant official parking spaces aren’t even filling up.
That’s according to Sam Schwartz, who was hired by Barclay’s [sic] Center management to come up with a traffic plan for the area during arena events.... But now walkers are winning. “As the herd of pedestrians comes out, we shut down Atlantic Avenue for cars and get the people across the street for about ten minutes and then we let the cars flow,” Schwartz said. “It hasn’t backed up traffic much.”
No, it hasn't backed up traffic much (though it could on weekend afternoons), but it was never part of the plan. Nor was anyone alerted to such shutdowns. It's a bug, not a feature.

And who's "we"? He's a consultant, no longer a city official. Shouldn't the Department of Transportation and NYPD have something to say?

Little parking or gridlock

The article states:
Relatively few fans seem to be driving, judging by the lack of gridlock and the fact that the arena’s surface parking lot, with its 541 spaces, has been half empty. Schwartz added that, as of now, not many drivers have been patronizing a group of satellite lots up to a mile from the arena that offer half-price parking and free shuttle buses.
The lack of gridlock depends significantly on traffic officers waving traffic through red lights, which is both labor intensive and potentially dangerous.

There are people driving, but they're being strategic, parking as far away as Grand Army Plaza and DeKalb Avenue.

I think it's too soon to figure out how the parking lot(s) will be used. If they cut the price, as a commenter below states, they will fill up. Also, an older crowd, in colder weather, should be more likely to drive.

Unmentioned in this article: a lot of black/livery cars idling in the blocks nearby.

Is it sustainable?

The article states:
[Robert Perris, district manager of New York Community Board 2] said traffic flow in the streets around the arena, which was heavy before the Barclays Center opened, might be benefiting from the small army of police and traffic managers. “My question is whether we’re always going to have the same level of resources as we had on night one,” he said.
Given the huge numbers of cops, including high-ranking officers, that's a good question.

More skepticism from Streetsblog

Streetsblog reported, Barclays Center Opening Weekend Traffic: Not a Total Disaster:
Despite the relative smoothness of the arena’s opening, there were rough spots. Early indications show that the share of event-goers taking transit may not be as high as predicted during the arena’s planning, while free curbside parking on local streets seems to be irresistible to many drivers looking to avoid paying at parking garages and lots. Sidewalk space fell short of what was needed to handle the number of pedestrians, especially when the concerts let out, which led police to close Atlantic Avenue to vehicles in order to accommodate crowds leaving the arena.

After the concerts ended on Friday and Saturday, NYPD barriers proved to be ineffective crowd control, as sidewalks filled up near the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street and along Atlantic Avenue. Presently, there is no crosswalk for people leaving the arena’s mid-block Atlantic Avenue exit. “The sidewalks are too small to accommodate the crowd,” said James.

...Not that the traffic management provided by police necessarily improved matters either. NYPD officers waved many drivers through red lights, leading to conflicts with crossing pedestrians and cyclists who had a green light. Safety apparently wasn’t the top priority. 78th Precinct Captain Michael Ameri told the Patch, ”I’m in a good mood because traffic is moving well.”
A Streetsblog commenter stated:
I think the low use of surface lots has everything to do with the high price, and it's been shown time and again that demand for parking in transit-rich areas is highly elastic, rising and falling alongside changes to the price and availability. If the arena wanted to, it could probably fill up a 10,000 space lot by making it free. It could also be perfectly fine with zero parking. What I'm saying is that I'd be very careful about complaining about the high cost of parking. There is already an element of the public that thinks the solution to high demand for parking is to build more parking lots, instead of encouraging a shift to other modes.


  1. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Its fine for Atlantic Avenue, but all traffic is being diverted onto S. Portland Ave, creating traffic and noise for residents on this street. Combine that with the livery cabs waiting on the street (not in parking spots), and this creates a hazard for pedestrians walking to the C and G trains. Also been having to deal with a Mister Frostee truck with a LOUD generator parking on S. Portland Ave near Atlantic Ave.

  2. The other night I tracked (foot) traffic into Fort Greene flowing north of Atlantic after arena events. Later this week I'll spend some time on S. Portland. Anyone w/info is welcome to get in touch.

  3. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Original poster from top. I can comment that the Jay-Z fans so far walking to and from the concert on S. Portland Ave have been overwhelmingly courteous of the neighborhood, with minimal noise and issues. The biggest issue so far is the livery drivers congregating as the event time closes.

    Norman, is there an email I can contact you at?


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