Call it an intersection intervention.
The city wants to revamp the dangerous Flatbush Avenue intersection with Avenue S and Utica Avenue, where several pedestrians have been seriously injured over the past few years. Some neighborhood folks welcome the proposed changes — which include new pedestrian islands, medians, and traffic patterns — as long overdue at the complicated crossroads.
“You can’t cross for nothing there,” said John Vascuez. “That area is a free-for-all. You cross at your own peril.”
The plan the Department of Transportation presented to Community Board 18 on March 26 entails adding and expanding pedestrian islands at the intersection, painting new crosswalks where there are none, adding new street markings to tell vehicles which ways they can go, creating a bus lane from E. 53rd Street to Avenue S on Flatbush Avenue, and adjusting signals to give pedestrians a seven-second head start when crossing Flatbush and Utica avenues before vehicles are allowed to turn.
The complex intersection — which has Avenue S crossing Flatbush Avenue at odd angles and Utica Avenue feeding into the five-way crossroads obliquely to create a web of unusually long crosswalks — is an official priority for Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero initiative.
Between 2012 and 2016, two pedestrians and one bicyclist were severely injured on Flatbush Avenue between Avenues S and T. The Department of Transportation also says the streets suffer from missing crosswalks at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and E. 51st Street, confusing directions for cars, and speeding, according to the presentation.
Vascuez and others at the meeting said they were satisfied with the proposal, but others had more mixed reactions. The district manager pleaded with the department and the police to do something about buses stopping on Flatbush Avenue.
“The buses are out of control,” said Dottie Turano. “They’re double, even triple-parked.”
A woman who didn’t give her name said the proposed bus lane would add to Marine Park’s worsening traffic woes.
“Flatbush is already pretty congested,” she said. “This will slow us down even more.”
The work is supposed to begin in the late summer or early fall, but is “dependent on scheduling,” a department official said at the meeting.