Signs of the times as city moves to improve Pier 6 pedestrian safety

City admits Atlantic Avenue right on red is wrong
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Sign painters to the rescue!

Amid an outcry that the new children’s paradise on Pier 6 is impossible to reach safely, the city announced this week that it would install new traffic signs in the hopes of making the walk to the park more of a walk in the park for pedestrians.

The changes include:

• A “Stop here on red” sign will be installed on Atlantic Avenue at the eastbound approach to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway on-ramp, reminding drivers that they cannot make a left turn to enter the highway if the light is red.

• A “Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians” sign will be installed on the north side of Atlantic Avenue at the BQE on-ramp, emphasizing to drivers that they must yield to Pier 6-bound residents in the crosswalk.

News of the changes did not come from the Department of Transportation, which did not respond to several queries by press time, but from state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who called the changes a good first step.

“We’ve known that it was important to get this done as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that the agency has “an obligation to make it work.”

Squadron and others focused their attention on three tricky access points to the popular pier: Atlantic Avenue, with its BQE on- and off-ramps; Columbia Street, where cyclists and pedestrians vie for precious sidewalk real estate; and Pier 7, where trucks force pedestrians to reconsider their recreational aspirations.

Judi Francis, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, a park advocacy group, was one of several key activists demanding that more be done to make the journey from areas south of the park safer.

As such, she said she was “pleased that the city took immediate action,” but Francis warned that more needs to be done, particularly along Columbia Street.

Squadron said the agency is already working on that, and will evaluate “medium-term opportunities” for more significant reconfigurations to the streets around Pier 6 — including the intersection of Columbia Street and Atlantic Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue west of Columbia Street, near the Pier 7 industrial zone.

The city also agreed to conduct a traffic study to determine if further signal or regulation changes are needed at Atlantic between Hicks and Columbia streets.