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Democracy at work! Park Slopers approve Fourth Avenue slow-down plan

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A Park Slope panel has changed course and approved the city’s controversial plan to radically redesign a dangerous stretch of Fourth Avenue after it shot down a slightly different proposal last month.

On Wednesday night, Community Board 6 voted 21 to 3 in favor of a traffic-slowing plan that reduces car lanes in both directions from three to two to make room for wider parking spaces and fatter pedestrian islands. The approved plan addresses a 1.4-mile stretch where 53 people were killed or severely injured between 2007 and 2011, according to the city. The plan will also ban some left turns along the 28-block stretch from 15th Street to Atlantic Avenue.

The board finally approved the plan following a four-hour public hearing, with the condition that the Department of Transportation come back in one year to review its effect.

“It took a little time, but we definitely made the right decision,” said CB6 transportation committee member Gary Reilly, who also backed the first city proposal. “If we failed to act, more people will be hurt and someone will die.”

Last month, the community board rejected the transportation agency’s initial proposal, even though the board’s transportation committee approved it. Opponents feared the plan banned too many left turns.

But after the vote, activists and concerned residents passionately pushed the board to reconsider. The original plan was the city’s response to complaints residents made at a public workshop in the neighborhood in February about narrow medians, double parking, cars speeding on the boulevard, and other hazardous pedestrian conditions.

“Fourth Avenue is so dangerous – I feel so unsafe crossing the street with my children,” said activist Grace Freedman of Saint Marks Place. She called the board’s initial rejection “unjust,” considering the proposal had garnered a large amount of community input before it was developed.

But the city came back to the community board with some minor changes to its initial proposal, such as banning only six left turns instead of eight, which was enough to win approval this time around.

“We understand that maybe eight was too many,” said project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth. The city expects to implement the upgrades this summer.

Left turns will no longer be allowed by Bay Ridge-bound traffic at Dean Street, Third Street, Ninth Street and 14th Street. Downtown-bound traffic will no longer be allowed to make left turns onto Eighth Street and 13th Street. The initial proposal had also banned turns onto Degraw and Butler streets. At those intersections, the short turning bays will become part of wider pedestrian islands that will be marked by lane delineators.

Only the Downtown-bound lanes from Carroll Street to Atlantic Avenue will retain the three-lane structure. The previous plan called for lane transition to start at Union Street. The two-block extension will allow the traffic-heavy stretch to flow easier, said Mintz-Roth.

At intersections keeping the existing turn lanes, the medians will broaden from two feet to six feet, and the 11-foot cross walk median will expand to up to 19 feet.

Many people applauded the new plan, but some residents who opposed the left turn bans said they were fearful that traffic would spillover onto narrower residential streets, such as Fifth Street and 10th Street, and that it would create more congestion from the Barclays Center and other developments on the strip.

“I really do think that part is a mistake,” said CB6 member James Bernard of Park Slope, who voted against the both plans. “I just think we need to be able to make a left turn on Ninth Street and Third Street.”

But Mintz-Roth said that residents will hardly noticed the impact from the left turn bans.

“We’re not projecting spillover onto parallel avenues,” he said. “All of the traffic will be distributed.”

Transportation officials said that the new plan closely mirrors Sunset Park’s recently redesigned Fourth Avenue traffic lanes from 15th to 65th streets.

This isn’t the only stretch of Fourth Avenue up for a pedestrian-friendly makeover.

In Bay Ridge, Community Board 10 voted to delay the vote on the revamp until the fall because some members opposed creating a concrete pedestrian median on the strip.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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Reader Feedback

T from Slope says:
Glad the board did the right thing. James Bernard shoul probably not be reappointed though.
July 12, 2013, 9:08 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
I hope they vote to revoke the law of unintended consequences next!
July 12, 2013, 9:22 am
FRANK from FURTER says:
Did they have a quorum? Community Board has 50 members. 21 to 3 is not a quorum...
July 12, 2013, 10:01 am
TedBonertown from Park Slopeee says:
YES!

Now properties along 4th ave can start to increase value, as the brokers have been promising!

Really though, just about anything to increase safety along that alleyway is great. Dangercity no more! Or less so.

When will the B'Ridgers start to weep and wet their pants in distress? No more speedslingshot to Real Brooklyn to get their blue shirt collars ironed and pressed before moving ultimately out to SI.
July 12, 2013, 12:01 pm
ty from pps says:
Frank -
It doesn't matter if there was a quorum of not... The Community Board is just advisory for such things. The members that didn't show up clearly don't care enough to bother to have their voices heard -- this is de facto support. In this case, the DOT is looking at 3 "no" votes vs. 47 "yes" votes... 21 strong yeses and 26 "I don't really care either way" yeses.
July 12, 2013, 12:30 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Ty's right. The fact that a quorum wasn't present is ultimately irrelevant as the Board's decision was of no legal consequence. That said, the fact that the Board did vote in favor ultimately was and is important due to the reality of the situation of city politics. For a project like this (i.e. one that is not being pushed hard in any one way by City Hall), a "no" vote by the community board(s) will ultimately kill the project.
July 12, 2013, 2 pm
Jimmy 2 shoes from PHeights says:
Who cares who voted. This was a dangerous area and needed to be fixed, with or without a vote. 53 dead or injured is reason to do more than raise eyebrows.

I know some people are very opposed to this, but really, just walk over there, look at the speeding cars. You save 5 minutes on your trip out further into brooklyn by speeding, when it's slowed down a bit, you're hardly affected but it's less likely someone will die or be hit. Personally, I'm fine slowing my ride a bit and avoiding some idiot ped who does not look both ways. Last thing I wanna do is kill someone (I personally have sped down 4th many a time, guiltily).
July 12, 2013, 2:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What's not taken into consideration is that Fourth Avenue is a major truck route, and not all roads allow for them. Denying left turns on certain intersections, especially if it's for them, will cause them to go through other neighborhoods creating traffic there. The same will go for other motorists in having to make circle routes when the turns they would be denied were direct routes. When Fourth Avenue gets a lot of congestion due to this so-called traffic calming, we will know who is to blame for this.
July 12, 2013, 3:48 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- This was ABSOLUTELY taken into account. Stop interjecting your stupid into EVERYTHING. Did you even bother to look at the DOT presentation? It showed CLEARLY where trucks can and should turn. Arrrgh! Shut up. Go away. And why don't you worry about the trucks in f*cking Pleasantville. You are waste of electrons. Go away!

Hey Tal, when it doesn't cause traffic Armageddon and makes the streets safer for pedestrians, will you make a public statement?
July 12, 2013, 4:43 pm
ty from pps says:
Here ya go, dummy. Take a look.

http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/4thave/files/2013/07/4th-Ave_Park-Slope_CB6-presentation-July_10_2013.pdf
July 12, 2013, 4:49 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
There was a quorum present. The actual vote was 21 yeas, three nays and two abstentions, 26 members in all. And the Transportation Committee, on which I serve, voted 11-0 in favor, again with a quorum; the full board voted to affirm our resolution.
July 12, 2013, 5:29 pm
13 st business from Gowanus says:
So trucks that need to go down 13 st will have to make four extra turns?
July 12, 2013, 5:34 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry ty, but I don't buy into your wishful thinking just as much as I never believe Thomas Friedman when he talks about Mid East issues over on the NY Times. What's your proof that it won't cause that? Did JSK tell you this in a secret meeting, because you sound like an insider when you such things? Don't give me that claim that if it fails, it can always be removed when the NYC DOT has a history of fudging data just to keep it there like Bloomberg did with the plaza at Times Square despite the opposition to that. Having southbound vehicles go even lower just to make a left turn will be like having to circle South America just to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean when you can't use the Panama Canal, which is a shortcut to all of that.
July 12, 2013, 6:38 pm
VG from YuleLog says:
So it's settled. Hipsters are to blame for the slowdown congestion when it happens.

Rasions!
July 12, 2013, 6:41 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- SHUT UP. You're a looney. Yes, having to drive an extra couple of blocks to save the lives of pedestrians is JUST LIKE having to circle South America... you f*cking idiot.
July 12, 2013, 6:44 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I take it that ty does prefer circling South America rather than using the Panama Canal when it comes to finding both faster and shorter routes.
July 12, 2013, 7:43 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Since my money is still paying for the sewage treatment in Pleasantville, NY, I demand you chew your corn.
July 12, 2013, 9:30 pm
Jessica from Brooklyn says:
Why the ____ is this ____ from Pleasantville always dribbling on and on with worthless opinions about New York City?
July 12, 2013, 11:49 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Jessica

Because he believes that because 0.0000001% of his tax money funds NYC roads that he is compelled to spread his uninformed opinion.
July 13, 2013, 2:25 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I am glad CB6 approved this. Fourth Avenue is too dangerous because cars drag race along it. It's exactly like Prospect Park West used to be before they put in the bike lane and made it safe (and, BTW, traffic moves smoother and faster now if you go about 23mph to hit all the green lights in a row). If this plan can calm the traffic and divert Bay Ridge drivers onto the BQE or, *gasp*, the subway, every other neighborhood between there and downtown will rejoice. Now if they can plant some trees, shrubs, and generally civilize the street it can become the grand boulevard it ought to be.
July 13, 2013, 8:49 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Since when does one need to live somewhere to voice his opinion on another place? I don't currently live in Israel, yet I have plenty of opinions on Hamas, which I am entitled to b/c I am a nerdy leftist. Why is it that everyone on this site just wants a bunch of yesmen rather than intelligent debate to which I try to inject the voice of countering reason? If the borough was trying to slow down cyclists, I am sure that the streetsblogger zealouts would be singing a different tune. Maybe it is b/c my debunking raises serious issues to which Ty and Other Mike, etc. find doesn't fit their preconcieved notions. I may not live in Brooklyn but the last time I checked it was a part of New York City so I am entiteled to my opinion, without the constant personal attacks against my person, which I consider the mark of a coward.
July 14, 2013, 4:48 am
ty from pps says:
"Why is it that everyone on this site just wants a bunch of yesmen rather than intelligent debate to which I try to inject the voice of countering reason?"

-- Intelligent debate.... Still waiting, Tal.
-- Countering reason... That's more like it. You provide comments that are the opposite of reason.

You are entitled to your stupid opinions. You are not entitled to state them and expect everyone to stay silent -- when you say something stupid (which seems to be your hobby), you will and should be called out for being stupid.
July 14, 2013, 10:58 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Cut the impersonations ty. I wasn't even at my computer all day yesterday. After work, I went to the city to see the All-Star Charity Concert starring Mariah Carey last night. More importantly, I don't place comments that late at night unlike a number of you who do that. Nevertheless, disliking the idea for traffic calming on 4th Avenue doesn't mean that I am against safety, so stop acting black and white, which is the reason why anti-car websites such as Streetsblog have made so many enemies.
July 14, 2013, 12:19 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
"Since when does one need to live somewhere to voice his opinion on another place?"

So you might know what you are talking about.
July 14, 2013, 12:30 pm
ty from pps says:
No, disliking the idea of traffic calming on 4th Ave does not mean you're necessarily against safety... but your comments do provide a lot of evidence about how simple-minded you are. (Tal, if you couldn't figure it out, I'm calling you stupid.)
July 14, 2013, 1:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, I can tell you why this is such a bad idea, but knowing how you tend to act on this, it will be like trying to get the Muslim Brotherhood to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and we all know where they stand on that.
July 14, 2013, 4:02 pm
ty from pps says:
They think it's a good idea?
July 14, 2013, 4:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, the point of that analogy was to relate how fanatical you are when it comes to issues like this. Nobody will argue with you about safety, but trying to place a plan that blames all when the reckless drivers only represent a small minority is a bad idea. Would you like it if there was something that punished all cyclists and pedestrians just for a few? I know you wouldn't like it, so cut the double standard. Personally, denying certain turns from a major thoroughfare will just relocate traffic elsewhere by creating circle routes when they used to be direct. Let's not forget that some of those deaths and injuries did come from jaywalking, which the article tends to deny, which is a good way to make it sound like an anti-car propaganda.
July 14, 2013, 5:52 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

NOBODY IS PUNISHING CAR OWNERS!!!

Do you know how much better traffic is moving on Flatbush Ave since most of the left turns have been banned between GAP and the Manhattan Bridge. I do, I know that because I drove that way 6 times in the past 3 day.

You have no idea what you are talking about so GO AWAY.
July 14, 2013, 6:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, unless that was during rush hour traffic, which is what really matters, the time you were there is irrelevant.
July 14, 2013, 7:23 pm
Other Michael from Actually Park Slope says:
It was Tal.

Traffic is moving much better in Flatbush since left turns were banned. Yes during rush hour. I am there all the time. I live a block away.

Where to you live and what is your opinion based on??

Traffic planing works!!
July 14, 2013, 9:54 pm
ty from pps says:
Hey Tal -- Do you know what my point was? To emphasize how stupid you are. That is all. You are an ignorant dummy. Does your mom even love you?
July 15, 2013, 12:17 am
Ty and Tal from Should Just Get a Room says:
And be sure to bring diehipster and Johnny something-sticks with you!

You are all such losers! You think you have the right to abuse this forum and have no consideration for the other readers.

WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY, JUST SHUT UP ALREADY!
July 15, 2013, 12:50 pm

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