Safety dance! ‘Barnes Dance’ will save lives at dangerous intersection, advocate says • Brooklyn Paper

Safety dance! ‘Barnes Dance’ will save lives at dangerous intersection, advocate says

Freestyle: Robin Sherman-Epstein wants a “Barnes Dance” at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U, meaning lights periodically go red so pedestrians can cross in all directions. It’s named for former traffic commissioner Henry Barnes.
Photo by Angel Zayas

They want to take back the streets.

The city must cede a dangerous Marine Park intersection to pedestrians and let them cross every which way when lights are red, locals are demanding. The intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U — right next to the popular Kings Plaza — is impossible to cross safely, because turning drivers clash with walkers who have the right of way. So traffic signals should halt all motorists at the same time and let non-drivers cross the confluence of concrete by any means necessary — including diagonally — in what is called a “Barnes Dance,” one area resident said.

“Now it’s a total mishmosh, when you’re crossing, the cars are allowed to come,” said Marine Parker Robin Sherman-Epstein. “That’s not a good idea — they’re going to run you over. A Barnes Dance is very simple, it makes all the traffic stop.”

A sedan’s worth of Council members introduced a bill on May 11 demanding the Department of Transportation implement the shuffle — named for former New York traffic commissioner Henry Barnes — at the city’s 25 most dangerous intersection.

It’s not clear which crossings the bill would impact — it requires the transportation department do a study to determine that — but the harried Marine Park junction has cracked the city’s top 20 before. The department ranked it the 16th most treacherous intersection for pedestrians in 2013, according to a 2015 study — the latest issued.

There have been 71 pedestrians and 61 motorists injured at the intersection since 2009, and three of those motorists died, city records show.

Others say the city should just build a footbridge over the roadway — an idea the local community board has floated on several occasions and which one local said she supports.

“It’s a nightmare. They need a bridge — not an arrow, not a new light — they need a bridge,” said Marine Parker Stella Panzarino. “It’s really very dangerous. People drive like maniacs. You can’t take for granted they are going to stop there.”

But that’s a bridge too far, and Sherman-Epstein said the Barnes Dance is the cost-effective way to go.

“Somebody suggested they build a walk bridge — the city doesn’t have money to do anything, don’t be stupid,” she said. “All they have to do is make all the walk signs green at the same time, and everybody else has to stop.”

In 2015, the Department of Transportation installed pedestrian safety islands, a median in the buffer at the bus terminal, and enlarged the center median to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross, but it has no plans to build a bridge or make the entire intersection stop for walkers, a Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.

“If residents have concerns, they should be in touch with their local community board or call 311,” she said.

Here’s what a Barnes Dance in Washington DC looks like:

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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