A virtually unpublicized meeting held by the city to go over its plans to deal with horrendous traffic on Flatbush Avenue attracted only three residents — and had some wondering if the government wanted any community input at all.
“If nobody showed up, it was because it was underpublicized, and that’s bad,” said East Flatbush activist Rickie Tulloch,. “There are issues involved in terms of traffic. I’m disappointed and concerned because I think it’s a very important issue.”
The Department of Transportation claims that it informed local community boards, civic groups, merchants and elected officials about the meeting focusing on Flatbush Avenue between the Junction and Empire Boulevard, but the paltry crowd said they found out about it only through a local Web site, the Ditmas Park Blog.
Even members of Community Board 14 say they only found out about the meeting after being told of it by Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs.
That made some residents shrug their shoulders when considering the low turnout.
“It irks me that people wants to skirt the community board and do things on their own,” said Joe Basso, co-chair of CB14’s Transportation Committee. “I feel the community is being slighted when they go behind the community board’s back.”
Buy the city says it wants to get input from residents, or it wouldn’t even hold the meetings.
“We want the public involved,” said Gregory Haas, a project manager with the DOT’s Traffic Planning Division, addressing the nearly empty room. “That’s why we have these meetings. We want to involve all the stakeholders. We don’t want to do anything unilaterally.” The project is intended to make the street safer and easier to navigate for all users — motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers — said Haas.
According to Haas, another public meeting about the traffic will be held this fall at a yet-to-be-determined time and place. There will also be a walk-through of the thoroughfare at which residents will have the opportunity to show agency officials the problems they perceive.
The agency had previously studied Church Avenue between McDonald Avenue and Utica Avenue, during the Congested Corridors study’s first phase, and is now in the process of implementing changes to that street that were developed based on the study.
During the new study, several key intersections along the 2.5-mile stretch of Flatbush Avenue will be analyzed, including Nostrand Ave and Hillel Place, Glenwood Road, Farragut Road and Rogers Avenue, Foster Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Cortelyou Road, Church Avenue, Linden Boulevard, Caton Avenue, Parkside Avenue, Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue, and Empire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. The intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue H, which is just south of the study area, will also be looked at, said Haas.
Among the issues that will be studied by agency officials are the amount of traffic at various times of day, and on weekends and weekdays, as well as where, when and how often vehicles turn onto and off the strip. The average speed of vehicles going along Flatbush Avenue at different times will be determined, as well as the number of pedestrians who utilize the avenue. Parking and truck delivery issues will also be analyzed, as will existing signs and road markings.
The goal of the study is to develop a menu of changes, both short and long-term, that can improve conditions on the thoroughfare.
Even though only three people showed up at the city’s traffic meeting, it doens’t mean the city gained nothing from the event.
“I ride my bike in the neighborhood a lot and Flatbush Avenue is the one street I avoid,” said Kyle Gebhart. “I feel it’s too dangerous. Double-parking is chronic and it’s one of those things that enforcement can’t fix. There have to be physical changes.”
One idea, said Haas, would be to revamp the strip so that there’s only one moving traffic lane plus a bike lane in each direction.
“Now it’s two lanes, but with the double-parking, only one lane gets through anyhow,” he noted.