Barrier Ridge: New city traffic plan includes Manhattan-style pedestrian fencing

Barrier Ridge: New city traffic plan includes Manhattan-style pedestrian fencing
Department of Transportation

En garde!

Manhattan-style pedestrian barricades could come to Bay Ridge if the latest draft of the city’s plan for Fourth Avenue goes through.

The Department of Transportation unveiled a tweaked version of the proposed overhaul of the corridor that it first showed off at a March 21 public forum to Community Board 10 on May 13— and among the alterations to the plan is a metal barrier similar to the once-controversial pedestrian blockades along Broadway and Sixth Avenue near Herald Square. The fence would stretch from 86th Street halfway down the block to 87th Street, on the side nearest Third Avenue, ensuring no jaywalking takes place in that area.

City representatives said the department of transportation is reluctant to install the corral, but said that the agency had decided it was necessary to prevent pedestrians from crossing mid-block.

“This is not one of our favorite things to do, but we believe it would improve safety,” said spokesman Jesse Mintz-Roth.

The pedestrian fences caused controversy when they first appeared in Manhattan, but have since become commonplace in areas where pedestrian traffic is heavy — or where it could be dangerous to cross the street because of oncoming automobiles. The pedestrian corrals already exist in Brooklyn on Jay Street near the Manhattan Bridge off-ramp, where cars flow from the bridge on to local streets toward the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

No CB10 member objected to the idea at the meeting, and board member Andrew Gounardes even suggested putting a second fence stretching from 87th Street halfway to 86th on the side toward Fifth Avenue to keep people inside the crosswalks.

A car struck and killed a woman crossing Fourth Avenue halfway between 86th and 87th streets on April 1. But Mintz-Roth admitted that most car-pedestrian collisions occur in the crosswalk, while the pedestrian has the light — which is why the plan still includes an elevated concrete island in the middle of the southern side of the 86th Street and Fourth Avenue intersection to provide refuge.

The design would extend the bus stop on the side nearest Third Avenue down to 87th Street, and convert the right hand lane along those blocks to a buses-only corridor.

Island in the stream: The city is suggesting a concrete island to give refuge to pedestrians crossing Fourth Avenue on the southern side of 86th Street.
Courtesy of Department of Transportation

The revised vision has the city also stripping away a lane between 95th and 101st streets on the Sunset Park-bound side to slow down drivers coming off the Belt Parkway. The updated plan would also relocate eight parking spots from Fourth Avenue between 65th and 66th streets to Shore Road Drive, creating a new lane to reduce congestion. The design still shaves the thoroughfare down to a single lane in each direction for 13 blocks between Ovington Avenue and 86th Street, widens parking lanes, and creates a left turn bay at 75th Street.

Mintz-Roth, who used to work for car-critic group Transportation Alternatives, argued that the plan would slow down Fourth Avenue speeders and curb the recent spate of pedestrian collisions.

“We’re looking to get drivers out of the highway mindset,” said Mintz-Roth.

But CB10 member Allen Bortnick accused Mintz-Roth of trying to scare people into voting for the revamp, which he claimed would result in chaos on the roadway.

“This plan stinks. This is going to create congestion at 86th and Fourth Avenue the likes of which you have never seen,” said Bortnick. “You people don’t know what you’re doing.”

But Mintz-Roth claimed that the city’s computer models showed that the plan would only tack a few minutes onto Fourth Avenue commutes.

“You would notice it, but it wouldn’t be a traffic jam,” he said.

The board will not vote on the proposal until after a larger public hearing scheduled for June 5.

Public Forum on Department of Transportation Proposal for Fourth Avenue at Saint Anselm’s Church [365 83rd Street, between Third and Fourth avenues in Bay Ridge] June 5, 7:15 pm.

Turn, turn, turn: The proposed plan would eliminate a lane going both directions between Ovington Avenue and 84th Street and create special left turn bays for convenience.
Courtesy of Department of Transportation

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.