The city is finally doing something to make a deadly road in Williamsburg, where three people have been killed in the past two years, safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Two months after a man was killed and his female companion was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver while crossing Borniquen Place, the city has released a plan to drastically overhaul the extension of Grand Avenue between Union Avenue and the Williamsburg Bridge that has for years been used as a speedway to Manhattan.
The Department of Transportation says it will make it more difficult for drivers to speed there by funneling traffic into one thinner lane, grooving the pavement to take away the smooth ride it now allows, and re-jiggering traffic lights. New signs will also be installed to help drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists understand who belongs where and when.
The city won’t say if the proposed changes, which it presented to Community Board One last week, are in response to the death in November, but some on the board consider that to be the case.
“That sort of put an urgency behind it,” said board member Ryan Kuonen. “In that whole area, the lanes are super wide and it becomes a speedway. It’s one lane, but it’s not marked and it’s big enough to fit three cars.”
The changes were hailed by bicycle and pedestrian advocates, but some cautioned that street design is only one part of the plan to keep people safe. Another is enforcement of the laws that are already on the books.
“Design is one thing, but we need police out there ticketing drivers,” said Juan Martinez of Transportation Alternatives. “Speeding is the number one cause of driving deaths. It should be the number one in ticketed violations.”