New left-turn bans on Flatbush go into effect on April 15

Drivers in Prospect Heights and Park Slope will no longer be able to make left turns onto Flatbush Avenue starting on April 15, part of the city’s effort to calm the neighborhoods’ deadly Main Street.

The move to eliminate left turns from Park and Sterling places comes roughly a month after Erinn Phelan was mowed down while she and a friend were crossing the perilous roadway — but the change would have done nothing to save her life.

Instead, this is a battle that the North Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District has been fighting for years.

There were nine crashes, including one fatality, on the stretch of Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Fifth Avenue in 2009, city statistics show.

The shift is long overdue because left-turning cars tend to speed to get to the next traffic light, which is often still green, said Sharon Davidson of the business improvement district.

“This is something that we’ve been trying to enforce for a while,” said Davidson. “The cars speed. … It’s not safe for pedestrians.”

The new ban represents only a minor change in traffic flow, city experts said. Drivers heading west on Sterling Place can still turn left onto Vanderbilt Avenue for access to points south. And drivers heading east on Park Place can make their left onto Sixth Avenue and then immediately onto Flatbush Avenue.

Even with the left-turn ban set to take effect, Davidson said she’s not finished bargaining. She’s pushing for countdown signals to indicate how much time is left for pedestrians to cross before the oncoming traffic will get the green light. Flatbush Avenue’s unusually long crosswalks, the result of its diagonal configuration, make such timers particularly helpful, Davidson said.

“There’s not a person on this avenue who won’t tell you that he or she almost got hit by a car, including myself,” Davidson said. “Drivers do not yield to pedestrians.”

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