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Fourth Avenue pedestrian medians to grow in Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, and Sunset Park

Big islands! City to widen Fourth Avenue medians

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Fourth Avenue’s pedestrian islands will get fatter under a city plan intended to make crossing the treacherous street feel less like a game of Frogger.

The city will use bollards and paint to expand the medians on the busy thoroughfare, giving walkers more space to wait when crossing a section of the wide, speeding-prone avenue between 15th and 39th streets in Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, and Sunset Park.

The new infrastructure will reduce the terrifying “stuck-in-the-middle” phenomena on the bustling avenue, said neighbors who lobbied for the roadway redesign.

“If it saves just one life, it’s worth it,” said Joan Botti neighbor and member of Community Board 7, which supports the project.

Neighborhood activists like Botti have long pushed for safety enhancements on Fourth Avenue, where roughly half of drivers speed during the day — and at least 88 people have been killed or seriously injured from its start in Downtown to its terminus in Bay Ridge over the past six years, according to transportation statistics.

That’s especially troublesome, residents say, because numerous of schools are located along the strip between 15th and 39th streets, including PS 124 in Park Slope, and PS 24 and PS 172 in Greenwood Heights.

The Department of Transportation will now use paint and street posts to widen 52 medians by up to eight feet on the two-mile stretch of Fourth Avenue. The agency also intends to expand curb-side lanes and left-turn lanes without removing any lanes of automotive traffic — a plan the city hopes will result in a safer street.

“It will enhance safety for everyone who walks or drives along this road and especially for the hundreds of students who go to school along the corridor,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Nicholas Mosquera.

This isn’t the only part of Fourth Avenue that’s going to get a pedestrian-friendly makeover — the city is trying to convert the car-heavy thoroughfare into a friendlier street with wider medians and street foliage all the way to Bay Ridge.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 7:13 am, August 29, 2012
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Reasonable discourse

tee from sunset park says:
i'm in favor of the plan, but just the old "if it saves one life..." doesn't float my boat...if it saves one life and inconveniences 140,000 people a day....yeah life is precious....but i don't know what the balance is or if we can tell if it saved a life.
Aug. 29, 2012, 7:58 am
real new yorker from real everything says:
seriously, my time is really important as i am an important individual with places to go. 10 minutes of my time must be equivalent to the lives of 10 or even more other people i don't know. so TEE, that's what the balance is.

also, on a less sarcastic note, it's fairly easy to tell if it saves lives: simply track injuries and fatalities on Fourth Ave on a year-by year basis and look at the body count to see if it works. the fewer people killed and injured, the better. unless of course, you're an important individual like me.
Aug. 29, 2012, 8:28 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Pedestrians should get a car. My family has been living in Brooklyn since 1700 and though they are all dead by now, none of them because of being hit by cars while walking. We've always lived at the top of the transportation food chain.
Aug. 29, 2012, 8:44 am
dave from hates crossing 4th says:
As someone who watched a person hit at 50mph along 4th ave less than a year ago, I'd say something has to be done. That image burned into my mind. That street is a dangerous speed zone.
Aug. 29, 2012, 9:14 am
Pedestrian Majority from brooklyn says:
tom from sunset park is more like it, right tee?

http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/05/03/deadly-fourth-avenue-in-sunset-park-poised-to-get-life-saving-road-diet/

"Only one board member, Tom Murphy, took issue with the plan, arguing that Fourth Avenue should keep six lanes of traffic to serve as a release valve for the BQE and Gowanus Expressway. No one else seemed to share the sentiment."
Aug. 29, 2012, 9:26 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
" simply track injuries and fatalities on Fourth Ave on a year-by year basis and look at the body count to see if it works. the fewer people killed and injured, the better. "

How do you measure what doesn't happen?

What will you do if the number goes up?

What happens if this gives a false sense of security and pedestrians take more chances?

Answer? Nothing happens, to the physical change of 4th Ave. but let's appoint a commi$$ion to $tudy it.
Aug. 29, 2012, 10:03 am
K from LES says:
"How do you measure what doesn't happen?"

You can't measure what doesn't happen, but if the number of injuries goes down after the road is redesigned, then we can assume that injuries were prevented.

What will you do if the number goes up?

There is absolutely no reason that the number of injuries would go up, since the improvements are making the road safer for all users. But if for some reason the number of injuries went up for a sustained period of time, obviously they would be taken away!

What happens if this gives a false sense of security and pedestrians take more chances?"

It's very simple, if the number of injuries go up, the project will be a failure. If the number goes down, it will be a success. If some pedestrians decide to take more chances and the overall number of injuries go up (I'm not really sure what "chances" you are referring to, but nevertheless), then the project should be considered a failure. But considering the safety record of the numerous other safety project that the DOT has undertaken over the past few years, there is no reason that will happen.
Aug. 29, 2012, 10:56 am
K from LES says:
"How do you measure what doesn't happen?"

You can't measure what doesn't happen, but if the number of injuries goes down after the road is redesigned, then we can assume that injuries were prevented.

What will you do if the number goes up?

There is absolutely no reason that the number of injuries would go up, since the improvements are making the road safer for all users. But if for some reason the number of injuries went up for a sustained period of time, obviously they would be taken away!

What happens if this gives a false sense of security and pedestrians take more chances?"

It's very simple, if the number of injuries go up, the project will be a failure. If the number goes down, it will be a success. If some pedestrians decide to take more chances and the overall number of injuries go up (I'm not really sure what "chances" you are referring to, but nevertheless), then the project should be considered a failure. But considering the safety record of the numerous other safety project that the DOT has undertaken over the past few years, there is no reason that will happen.
Aug. 29, 2012, 10:56 am
Mike from Sunset Park says:
It's hard to believe people are still treating urban neighborhoods as obstacles to vehicular traffic that must be overcome.

It is not the responsibility of people in urban neighborhoods to make commutes easier for suburbanites at the expense of their own communities.

I hope this slows down traffic on 4th Avenue. I hope it is so disruptive to traffic that people stop viewing 4th Avenue as a second highway in Brooklyn. If you want to use the highway, use the highway. If there is traffic on the BQE, deal with it. You have made the choice to live so far away from your job. It is not my neighborhood's responsibility to fix that.
Aug. 29, 2012, 12:18 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Okay, well sign up tee for the human sacrifice ritual. Thanks for volunteering!
Aug. 29, 2012, 12:45 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Excuse the interruption, but I personally have found myself in many terrifying scenarios in this area. I hate to say it, but by enlarging the medians, the average sized pedestrian will indeed have more "wiggle room" (if you'll pardon the expression). Now, and please don't take this the wrong way, but this can in itself become very treacherous and could actually cause more pain, suffering, and possible casualty to the average sized pedestrian. Just try to imagine it, and you may agree-of course I understand if you do not.
Aug. 29, 2012, 2:01 pm
chris from park slope says:
Hopefully that helps slow down these cars from speeding along 4th avenue. But i also heard they are trying to add bike lane 4th avenue which they shouldnt do cause 4th avenue is crazy enough.
Aug. 29, 2012, 2:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I think that this is a bad idea. Many already opposed the pedestrian island on the Ft Hamilton Pkwy, so I don't see how placing one of 4th Avenue will be any different. This is a major thoroughfare for the most part, and reducing it to slow down traffic can actually make it go from bad to worse. If you really want to help pedestrians but without making an inconvenience to the motorists is to fix the timing on the traffic signals. Doing so wouldn't just make it easier for both sides, but also cost less compared to widening the medians. Then again, Bloomberg does want to promote congestion pricing, and the only way he can do it is by creating the very gridlock itself.
Aug. 29, 2012, 3:40 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Tal, you should see that 'pedestrian island' on Ft. Hamilton Parkway!

There is one lane for traffic. Except when trucks make necessary deliveries to the businesses along Ft. Hamilton Pkway. (Ya know, fresh veggies) Then the trucks park in the driving lane, and the cars drive in the 'pedestrian lane' or stop dead. This idea was created by a utopian with out regard to reality.

Smell the "congestion" created by"engineers, that leads to a "congestion charge" that does nothing but fill the trough for the piggies!
Aug. 29, 2012, 3:56 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
These are welcome changes to 4th Avenue. It has the potential to be a grand boulevard, with better medians and greenery. Timing the lights better, as Tal suggested, would help too. Drivers speed entirely too much, too fast. In a couple years my kids will start school at one of the locations mentioned in the article, so I have a strong interest in bringing the vehicular traffic there under control.

As a driver, though, I'd say 4th Avenue is an important supply line for all the businesses in the neighbourhoods it crosses, so treating it like a quiet residential street doesn't entirely make sense either. Something like the upper reaches of Broadway in Manhattan would strike the right balance, I think--big enough to carry significant traffic, but tame enough to be safe for pedestrians.
Aug. 29, 2012, 4:37 pm
Tom Murphy from Sunset Park says:
The quoted description, by way of 'Pedestrian Majority from brooklyn', of what I said is abbreviated from what I did say and quite out of context.

I did state that 4th Avenue was a Truck Route, an arterial roadway, and carried too much traffic to allow for any reduction in its capacity. To me these are facts. Carlo Sciccura who was heading up Borough President's Task Force on 4th Avenue recognized this when I asked him about it last year and he said to Community Board #7 that no change to the roadway was contemplated. In addition, the 4th Avenue 'Visioning' report from Hunter College saw no such changes for years to come, if at all. They saw too much vehicular traffic. Much of that is truck traffic.

I also said that removal of a lane of parked cars from the east side of 4th Avenue from 33rd Street to 15th Street at morning rush(quite necessary now to make the 'road diet' work) was unsafe for local residents. The time picked is also peak time for pedestrians: going to schools, subways and stores. Parked cars protect pedestrians on the curb. It's a fact, recognized by all traffic designers. I've even heard the Commissioner of Transportation, Jannette Sadik-Khan, say it.

Further, a rush-hour ban will only end up hurting small businesses and depriving more than a hundred local car owners/users, and their families, of parking. For these same reasons NYC DOT recently cancelled rush-hour bans on parking from Atlantic Avenue and from Hicks Street.

I did suggest to NYC DOT and the Community Board changes I deduced would most benefit the safety of Sunset Park pedestrians. I pointed to what NYC Department of Transportation has already done on 4th Avenue. They installed 'bump-out's', or curbs-extensions, and a two-foot-only widening of the center median at the 59th & 60th Street intersections to protect the school children crossing there. I suggested replications at all intersections possible along the Avenue. Pedestrians already wander off the curb and put themselves at risk. These extensions would protect them. I feel that the eight-foot widening of the center median to an eighteen feet width(and nothing at the curb) would only induce pedestrians to recklessly scamper to the median between moving traffic and put themselves at greater risk. Too expensive & too difficult was the answer. Cheap & quick & easy is what we are to get; safe is secondary. NYC DOT to this day continues to install extensions elsewhere.

I pointed out that major signage and lighting improvements were deficient at the two overpasses on 4th Avenue(at 64th Street and Prospect Avenue). These were always needed because traffic-flow transitions at these intersections and road design manuals call for them. I think they might have listened to my suggestions regarding 64th Street. I can't be sure.

There is nothing in the NYC DOT plan to slow traffic. The only 'friction' in the travel lanes will be the current parked and double-parked cars. Two wide travel lanes each way at all times won't do it.

Of course, the DOT plan was overwhelmingly adopted by CB#7 and is being implemented now as promised.

At present, NYSDOT is finishing up their rehabilitation of the Gowanus Expressway. They are continuing to widen the Staten Island Expressway, and are planning for the replacement of the Goethels Bridge. Induced demand will draw even more traffic to the Gowanus Corridor. It is, after all, a critical commerce corridor and truck traffic has no other way to get to Long Island and New England from south-central New Jersey(and the Mid-Atlantic states).

The NYSDOT recently cancelled the needed replacement of the Gowanus, there was no protest and only a hint at a new plan. I have submitted the replacement for the Gowanus to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the official Metropolitan Planning Organization, for consideration in the next regional transportation plan. I figured no one else would remember.

BTW: Who's "tee".


t
Aug. 29, 2012, 10:42 pm
Hugo Furst from Bay Ridge says:
First came the traffic lights.

Stop on red. Go on Green.

Then came the Walk/Don't Walk signs - in - Red and Green!

Those were too complex - so we put stick figures for those who cant read, or come from a country where they don't use red for stop.

Then we gave a count down clock. Still not enough.

Ever wonder why people cross rail road tracks on the red, or drive into trains, when trains stay on the tracks for the most part.

Maybe we should make better people, or put the ones we have on a leash, because if they only obeyed the lights, that have been there all their lives, we wouldn't need all this extra work.

Cross at the green! Not in between!
Aug. 30, 2012, 11:49 am
Amanda Hugginkiss from Bay Ridge says:
What if you're on the sidewalk and get hit by a car, Hugo?

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Woman-Struck-Vehicles-Brooklyn-Jumps-Curb-168087436.html

Maybe we should make better drivers. Unfortunately we can't, so that's why we need all this extra work.
Aug. 31, 2012, 9:41 am
sly carroll from wt says:
Why not build pedestrian overpasses.
Sept. 2, 2012, 12:35 am
Firsty from Park Slope says:
I wonder how many of those pedestrians hit by cars were jaywalking? Many, I am sure,
Sept. 7, 2012, 4:50 pm
Living on 4th all my life from gowanus says:
it is funny to me to see people give their opinions when most of the people who are against this probably don't drive or are weekend drivers and still don't know how to drive. this will cause nothing but traffic. Everytime a truck double parks for a delivery there will be traffic. Everytime school buses and parents drop off their kids, there will be traffic. this is because you just turned 2 lanes to one lane. All I can say is there are a lot of idiots that share their opinions and they never drive. Why don't you drive one day and see how that works for you. But the best part is the honking of the horns. The frustration of sitting in traffic. The loss of hundreds of parking spots which makes a lot of people living on 4th ave angry. Also, those accidents that occur, how many of those were pedestrians at fault. They don't tell you cause the truth is probably most of them. Also, if you think that I'm writing this because I'm pissed off and my commute will take me longer, it won't. I've been driving in brooklyn for so almost 20 years so i know the shortcuts to bypass any traffic.
Sept. 11, 2012, 11:49 am
Jaime from Bay Ridge says:
I dont understand how some people can agree in the reduce of the traffic lines on 4 ave. this is ridicule and insufficient measure for avoid pedestrian accidents, nobody thing is people fault too, but now is more dangerous because cars are parked double and drivers has to do hard moves to avoid this cars.

This idiots who decide this never drive in this neighbor and they don't now how the traffic move now, is too slow all days.
Oct. 20, 2012, 11:55 pm
John from Sunset says:
Now with two lanes, delivery trucks double park in one of them. How about no deliveries from 730-930am and write summonses for double parked cars and trucks to help stimulate the neighborhoods.
Oct. 25, 2012, 9:26 pm
Jasper Richards from Bay Ridge says:
4th Ave is a parking lot now... - too many out-of-towners moving into brooklyn and putting their small town 'urban' philosophy to work in our city...
Nov. 9, 2012, 10:12 am

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