Downsizing in Dumbo: Local petitions city to cut one lane from busy two-way street

Downsizing in Dumbo: Local petitions city to cut one lane from busy two-way street
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

It’s the only way forward.

The Department of Transportation must downsize a two-way Dumbo street to one-way because it is too narrow to handle all of the cars, making it dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians to traverse, demands a local resident’s petition to the city.

“It’s unsafe. What Dumbo has turned into, in terms of popularity and population, simply doesn’t support the two-way traffic,” said Jamel Talbi, whose petition to make Washington Street between York and Front streets one-way contained 134 signatures by press time.

The resident furthered his campaign to transform the once single-lane road back into a one-way street with a Sept. 14 presentation to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee, arguing that it is nearly impossible for two large cars to pass one another after 6 pm, when parking on both sides of the street opens up. The stretch currently bans weekday parking from 8 am to 6 pm on one side but allows all-day metered parking on the other.

Talbi is worried about motorists hitting neighborhood youngsters and other vehicles that stall on the street as their drivers wait for cars to pass by, he said.

“It’s a safety concern for a lot of us who have kids in the neighborhood,” the local said.

The committee voted to recommend changing the section to one-way 8–0, with three abstentions.

The city changed the block to two-way in 2010, according to a Brownstoner report. But Talbi charged that residents have flooded the surrounding area ever since, due to an influx of new apartment buildings and the opening of nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, causing increased congestion.

“When the traffic pattern changed, I don’t think anybody anticipated just how many people would be coming in as tourists or how many people would live in the neighborhood, with all of the buildings that have come up,” he said.

Committee members agreed, sharing their own experiences with overcrowding on the stretch.

“If you take a taxi and get out on Washington Street you block traffic,” said Ciro Scala, a panel member. “What I think you’re asking for is a common sense approach to quality of life.”

If downsized, the street would likely cater to Downtown-bound traffic, since its preceding blocks also run in that direction.

The issue next goes before the Department of Transportation, where traffic experts will study solutions to ease traffic on the stretch. If the agency determines its return to one-way is viable, reps will return to the community board to present their thoroughfare-conversion plan for a vote.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill