Big islands! City to widen Fourth Avenue medians

Fourth Avenue’s pedestrian islands will get fatter under a city plan intended to make crossing the treacherous street feel less like a game of Frogger.

The city will use bollards and paint to expand the medians on the busy thoroughfare, giving walkers more space to wait when crossing a section of the wide, speeding-prone avenue between 15th and 39th streets in Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, and Sunset Park.

The new infrastructure will reduce the terrifying “stuck-in-the-middle” phenomena on the bustling avenue, said neighbors who lobbied for the roadway redesign.

“If it saves just one life, it’s worth it,” said Joan Botti neighbor and member of Community Board 7, which supports the project.

Neighborhood activists like Botti have long pushed for safety enhancements on Fourth Avenue, where roughly half of drivers speed during the day — and at least 88 people have been killed or seriously injured from its start in Downtown to its terminus in Bay Ridge over the past six years, according to transportation statistics.

That’s especially troublesome, residents say, because numerous of schools are located along the strip between 15th and 39th streets, including PS 124 in Park Slope, and PS 24 and PS 172 in Greenwood Heights.

The Department of Transportation will now use paint and street posts to widen 52 medians by up to eight feet on the two-mile stretch of Fourth Avenue. The agency also intends to expand curb-side lanes and left-turn lanes without removing any lanes of automotive traffic — a plan the city hopes will result in a safer street.

“It will enhance safety for everyone who walks or drives along this road and especially for the hundreds of students who go to school along the corridor,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Nicholas Mosquera.

This isn’t the only part of Fourth Avenue that’s going to get a pedestrian-friendly makeover — the city is trying to convert the car-heavy thoroughfare into a friendlier street with wider medians and street foliage all the way to Bay Ridge.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.