New mid-block crossings on Atlantic Avenue aim to slow cars, increase pedestrian safety on ‘Boulevard of Death’

atlantic avenue midblock crossings
Three new midblock crossings on Atlantic Avenue will slow cars and help pedestrians safely cross on long blocks.
Photo courtesy of Sophie Ambro/Council Member Lincoln Restler

Atlantic Avenue has three new mid-block pedestrian crossings, which the city and local pols hope will make the busy roadway — nicknamed Brooklyn’s “Boulevard of Death” — safer for Brooklynites traversing the corridor on foot.

The new crossings — soon-to-be complete with crosswalks, traffic lights, and pedestrian ramps — stretch over Atlantic Avenue in the middle of Nevins and Bond streets, Bond and Hoyt streets, and Hoyt and Smith streets. 

“Atlantic Avenue is one of Brooklyn’s busiest roads — with dozens of great local shops and restaurants — but it’s also one of the most dangerous,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler in a statement. “These new midblock crossings will create a greater sense of safety and community for Boerum Hill. I’m grateful to the Department of Transportation for working with our community to get this done, and excited for further improvements we’ll make to finally make Atlantic Avenue safe.” 

restler at mid-block crossing on atlantic avenue
Council Member Lincoln Restler showed off one of the new mid-block crossings. Photo courtesy of Sophie Ambro/Council Member Lincoln Restler

Restler is among a number of pols who called for safety improvements along Atlantic Avenue last spring, after 31-year-old Katherine Harris was hit and killed by a speeding driver as she crossed the avenue at Clinton Street.

At his urging, the Department of Transportation completed a mid-block crossing study on Atlantic Avenue last spring, a DOT rep said. Over the course of five hours on a Saturday in May, the department observed hundreds of pedestrians crossing Atlantic Avenue in the middle of the block, the rep said — 652 pedestrians crossed in the middle of Hoyt and Bond streets alone. The results proved to the department that mid-block crossings were necessary on the busy roadway. 

“Atlantic Avenue is a premier shopping destination, though its long blocks mean visitors often have to walk far distances to cross the street safely,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez in a statement. “These new mid-block crossings will make it significantly easier to stroll the avenue and enhance safety by better managing traffic through the corridor.”

Kelly Carroll, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, said the new crossings “created unprecedented access to our small businesses located mid-block, and increased our commercial district’s walkability.” 

Mid-block crossings force drivers to slow down and stop on long blocks — which otherwise often allow drivers to gain speed as they drive. A DOT rep said the department has finished installing all three new traffic signals, and is working to finish the new crosswalks and pedestrian ramps. 

Over the last five years, hundreds of crashes have been reported on the stretch of Atlantic Avenue between Flatbush Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, according to Crashmapper, and several people have been killed. Just four months after Harris’ death, an 18-year-old woman was killed when a speeding driver blew through a red light at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street and crashed into the car she was riding in. 

atlantic avenue crash
An 18-year-old was killed by a speeding driver on Atlantic Avenue last August. File photo by Aidan Graham

Local leaders have also urged the DOT to redesign existing pedestrian crossings along Atlantic Avenue and add curb extensions to corners, to improve pedestrian visibility and safety. Through the ongoing Atlantic Avenue Great Streets project, the department is making safety improvements to parts of the roadway further east — in 2020, improvements were completed on Atlantic Avenue between Logan Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and work is currently underway between Logan Street and Rockaway Boulevard. 

In a statement, Rodriguez said he looked forward to continuing to explore safety improvements along Atlantic Avenue. 

“Atlantic Avenue has long been known as a dangerous corridor for pedestrians and we have witnessed far too many preventable deaths on this notorious stretch,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “That’s why I’m thrilled that City DOT has really listened to the community and has installed three midblock crossings along with new traffic signals. These improvements will enhance street safety, so drivers are forced to be more vigilant, keeping all of us safer. This is a great step forward and I’m looking forward to additional street calming measures.”