Expert: There is a way to fix Atlantic Yards traffic

The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

Your article, “City can’t curb Yards security” (Dec. 8) indicates a lack of understanding by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods that buildings can be designed today to be far more blast resistant than they used to be, that measures can be taken to keep vehicles from getting too close to a building and, if required by the NYPD, that the stadium can be relocated further away from the street prior to construction.

But what still concerns the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is the adverse impact the stadium will have on the traffic in the area. In hopes of mitigating the additional traffic anticipated when the stadium is in use, the Chapter suggests the following measures:

1. The city should prohibit the Nets arena from providing any off-street parking at the arena site. Instead, the city should provide municipal parking for approximately 1,000 cars at one or several locations in an industrial area in the Brownsville/East New York area, within walking distance of public transportation. This parking would be used on a daily basis for business people driving to work as well as for patrons attending basketball games.

However, on game nights, either the Nets or the Atlantic Yards developer should be required to provide shuttle buses from the remote parking areas to the arena.

2. Eliminate parking on all major thoroughfares going to, or coming from, Manhattan during rush hours, and meter all side streets in the area. Enforce existing “Don’t Block the Box” rules at all major intersections.

3. Eliminate parking permits for city employees’ private vehicles to encourage them to take public transportation.

4. Discount bus and subway fares during off hours.

Of course, the best solution would be to reduce the density of the residentia­l/commercial area in Atlantic Yards. If most of the existing streets would remain as city property, whether open for vehicular traffic or relegated to pedestrian use only, and the same floor area ratio is retained, the total buildable floor area would be reduced by approximately 20 percent, which would substantially reduce traffic.

The Chapter is very much in favor of bringing a professional basketball team to Brooklyn and developing the rail yard area, but we do not feel that enough thought has been given to the traffic impact of the overall development.

We believe that if our suggestions are adopted it will prevent a traffic disaster from occurring.

I. Donald Weston, Brooklyn Heights

The writer is chair of the Urban Design Committee of the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Hanukkah shopping

To the editor,

This is in response to last week’s letter from a Park Sloper who was disturbed that there are no Hanukkah items in the two big box stores she visited (“Hanukkah harried,” Dec. 15). I am also disturbed by this.

But I am also disappointed to discover that the writer focused her shopping on national chains rather than locally owned and operated small businesses.

Many of the local “Mom and Pop” stores in Park Slope have recently banded together to educate area residents in the importance of buying locally. Local retailers are typically responsive to neighborhood needs and requests.

Furthermore, when people shop in their neighborhood stores, the money that they spend is recycled within the community at least three times. This is definitively not the case when people shop at national chain stores.

As for Hanukkah candles, Hanukkah gift wrap etc., our toy store has been carrying these items, and many more, for 30 years. We also offer a full range of Passover items in the Passover season.

And we are not the only ones.

There are a number of other locally owned small stores in Park Slope that carry Hanukkah items and Passover items as well. Please consider the value of shopping locally, rather than nationally.

Allen Brafman, Park Slope

The writer is owner of Little Things Toy Store on Seventh Avenue.

Moses’s sin

To the editor,

I enjoyed Tom Gilbert’s column “Is O’Malley really evil” (Dec. 8). It is interesting to compare Robert Moses with one of today’s major developers, Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards project.

During the 1950s, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley looked at various locations for a new baseball stadium — one that he planned to finance using his own money. With limited seating capacity at Ebbets Field, he said he needed a new modern stadium to remain financially viable.

Mega-builder Moses refused to allow him access to the current day Atlantic Yards project site. This location was easily accessible to thousands of baseball fans from all around the Big Apple via numerous subway lines.

And thousands of fans in eastern Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties would have had direct access to this stadium via the LIRR. Imagine how different Brooklyn would have been if elected officials had stood up to Moses and allowed construction of a new stadium for the Dodgers in that area.

Contrast Walter O’Malley with Bruce Ratner. O’Malley would have used his own money to finance a new stadium. Ratner is counting on favorable eminent domain rulings by Big Brother along with corporate welfare in the form of direct government funding, public infrastructure improvements, low interest loans and long-term tax exemptions. The final price tag for the public is still unknown.

In the end, O’Malley did leave town with our beloved Dodgers. On the other hand, Ratner is picking the pockets of taxpayers for a tidy sum.

So Robert Moses was no friend to city taxpayers or Brooklyn residents.

Larry Penner, Great Neck, New York

Biking safe

To the editor,

The widespread disregard for bicycle laws jeopardizes the safety of good drivers and pedestrians throughout this neighborhood and all of Brooklyn (“They all want me dead now,” Park Slope edition and online, Oct. 20). With bikes being so popular in the city, particularly for delivery services, you would think riders might take more care and consider their legal responsibility while traveling.

As of July 26, bicycle-riding delivery workers were required to wear helmets for work. In fact, their employers are required to supply the helmets. Yet constantly, I see delivery workers on bikes wearing only baseball caps, zig-zagging between cars, ignoring stoplights and engaging in other dangerous activities that put themselves and others using the roads at risk for injury.

Additionally, in most cases, if an automobile driver is involved in an accident with a cyclist, the driver is held responsible regardless of the situation. These claims will have a drastic, negative effect on the driver’s insurance rate.

As a city, we need to stand up collectively and make sure that we contact our local government representatives to make sure that these laws get enforced. A poor bicycle rider deserves a ticket as much as a poor car driver.

This is the only way to protect the safety of all citizens who use the roads.

Harvey Leff, Carroll Gardens

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Reader Feedback

Norman Oder says:
While the writer of the letter on Atlantic Yards traffic certainly means well, it's underinformed, to say the least:
Dec. 21, 2007, 1:34 pm
Avril Haynes from Crown Heights says:
Are these people for real. I have resided in Brooklyn for 30 year and now work in Crown Heights. All my years of traveling downtown Brooklyn by car has been a nightmare, no matter what time of day, nite or time of year. Putting that arena there will make parking a bigger nightmare than it already is, there is no place to park in Brooklyn, why? every household have 2 or more cars, big buildings are being built and no one is buildig any underground parking and traffic is always tied up at that Atlantic and Flatbush intersection. But all the politicians making this possible don't live in Brooklyn and don't travel to Brooklyn unless their vehicles are escorted by police, so everyone must step out of their way as they go sailing by. We in Brooklyn are not worried about terrorists, we are concerned about traffic and parking.
Dec. 21, 2007, 7:28 pm
Michael from Gowanus says:
Harvey, who writes above about bicycle safety, misses a key point. If a car hits a bicycle, it is an unequal collision. In almost no cases will the driver of the car be hurt, and in almost all cases the cyclist will be hurt or killed. Automobile drivers have a special moral responsibility to avoid collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition, it is a rare case when the driver of an automobile is charged when he or she "accidentally" kills a cyclist or pedestrian.

To Avril, if you don't like driving in Downtown Brooklyn, get out of your car and take public transportation. You probably don't think about it, but you and your private car are a major contributor to the problem. More than 70% of downtown Brooklyn residents don't have cars, and we'd appreciate it if you kept yours parked at home.
Dec. 22, 2007, 8:07 am

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