Atlantic Avenue will become a parking paradise and that’s easier for pedestrians to cross, say Boerum Hill neighbors and merchants who convinced the city to ease no-standing regulations on the busy roadway after nearly two decades.
The Department of Transportation finally agreed to remove signs barring parking during rush hour from the south side of Atlantic Avenue — freeing up about 100 new parking spaces between Smith Street and Third Avenue by converting a section of asphalt that was a part-time moving lane into a parking-only path.
Business owners are rejoicing, saying the years of watching their patrons rush out to beat the tow trucks that began circling in the afternoon were maddening.
“Everyone was getting towed, said Yip Mark, a restorer at Circa Antiques. “Exactly at 4 pm, the tow trucks were out there waiting.”
And supporters of the plan say it will also help pedestrians by reducing the number of lanes walkers must cross to get to the other side of one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous roads — where 88 percent of motorists exceed the speed limit.
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association president Sandy Balboza said the removal of the no standing signs caps off a neighborhood movement that was her group’s marquee issue when it was founded back in 1994.
“We researched what the biggest issues were affecting the merchants and this was the biggest,” said Balboza.
Getting rid of the signs was anything but easy — Balboza said she pressed all possible avenues, but repeatedly met resistance from officials wary of slowing down rush-hour traffic.
But the Department of Transportation eventually changed its tune.
“New York’s streets are our front yards and the economic engines of our city,” said transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Our streets need to keep pace with the changes we’re seeing in neighborhoods like Boerum Hill.”
Supporters of the plan say it won’t make traffic any worse on Atlantic Avenue because the old parking regulations never really did what they were intended to anyway.
“There’s always someone parked in that lane anyway,” said Ashley Thompson, spokeswoman for Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill). “It was not a viable lane. So why not just let people park there legally?”
To keep the new parking lane from constricting traffic, transit officials extended the length of green lights for Atlantic Avenue drivers at the corner of Flatbush and Fourth avenues, and barred left turns for eastbound drivers at Smith Street during rush hour and at Bond Street at all times, and for westbound drivers at Hoyt Street at all times.
These changes come just days after the Department of Transportation signed off on a traffic-calming measure that will reduce the speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour in the largely residential area bounded by, but not including Smith Street, and Union, Third, and Atlantic avenues.
The “slow zone” approval — which comes two months before the Barclays Center arena opens nearby — is intended to keep drivers from using the neighborhood as a short cut to and from the East River bridges.