Motorist mutiny on Flatbush as drivers flout left-turn ban

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Don’t do it!: A big electric sign tells motorists that they cannot make a left turn on to Myrtle Avenue when heading away from the Manhattan Bridge on Flatbush Avenue Extension.

Talk about a hard left.

The Department of Transportation tried to take a page out of the New Jersey play book last week by instituting a jug handle traffic pattern where Flatbush Avenue Extension hits Myrtle Avenue coming off the Manhattan Bridge, banning left turns towards Fort Greene and requiring motorists looking to head that way turn right into a horseshoe-shaped MetroTech Center service road instead. But a visit last Friday showed barely anybody paying attention to the new ban on left turns, with only a handful taking the boomerang right as a steady stream lined up for the left every signal cycle. That afternoon’s mass motorized disobedience coupled with a shortened left-turn light, meant to be for buses only, created long backups in the left lane.

The jug handle scheme is common in the Garden State but unheard of in Kings County, until now. A local business booster said that she anticipates a learning curve.

“It’ll take some time for drivers to get used to it,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.

The problems are not for lack of signage. A temporary electronic sign announces the traffic pattern change a block before the intersection; the new left-turn lane says it is for buses only; and signs just in front of and at the intersection spell out the restriction again.

A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency is working with the Police Department to figure out how best to enforce the new rules.

Complaints about difficulty crossing the street at Myrtle Avenue and regularly backed-up traffic on Flatbush Avenue Extension precipitated the change, according to the roads agency. The department also said the intersection is dangerous, having seen 110 injuries from accidents between 2008 and 2012.

Another visit on Tuesday morning showed the city has apparently taken note of the driver discord as a traffic cop was stationed in the roadway. On Wednesday, a transportation department worker was handing out flyers about the change.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Right to work: The new jug handle traffic pattern the city implemented at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension looks good on paper, but so far most drivers are ignoring it.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to reflect that a traffic cop was stationed at the intersection on Tuesday morning.
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
Drivers are taking their que from bike riders and ignoring the rules.

The nerve!
Sept. 2, 2014, 6:40 am
ty from pps says:
Drivers are ignoring a new traffic pattern that will improve their experience -- surprise, surprise. Oh no! Change! Accck! Bunch of little children with driver's licenses.
Sept. 2, 2014, 8:01 am
Peter K. from Brooklyn Heights says:
>Drivers are taking their que from bike riders and ignoring the rules.

Except one of those drives a multi-ton vehicle that kills people every week in this city.

And it's "cue", not "que".

Sept. 2, 2014, 8:33 am
Ian Turner from Hamilton Heights says:
Drivers are not going to "get used to it" until the NYPD does its job and starts ticketing.
Sept. 2, 2014, 8:35 am
ty from pps says:
Actually Peter K. --
The statistic is actually a bit more grim... a driver kills a pedestrian EVERY OTHER DAY (average of 14 pedestrian deaths per month in 2013).
Sept. 2, 2014, 8:48 am
fort greene resident says:
Actually, the signage is dismal. I started to get in the lefthand lane, saw what I thought was a sign, but it was obscured by a bus turning left. I didn't see any signs to go right to make a left turn. Ended up going all the way up to Fulton and then left on Ashland, so that I avoided by "dangerous" Myrtle intersection in favor of turning left on the truly dangerous Fulton intersection. Thanks, DOT
Sept. 2, 2014, 9 am
steve from downtown says:
.and...... why is this important ??
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:01 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Peter K - look up the word Pun.
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:04 am
ty from pps says:
Oh No Fort Greene Resident! How traumatic for you. You didn't see the left-turn prohibition until it was too late and didn't see the information sign about going east on Myrtle... First, thank you for actually obeying the law and not using the Bus Only lane. Second, I guess you'll know for next time, right? (btw, you *should* thank the DOT. This is a major improvement for pedestrians AND drivers.)
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:08 am
ty from pps says:
(Or, you would need to spell the word correctly for your word play.... there is no word 'que.' Inventing a word that is neither X or Y is not a pun.)
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:10 am
Homer from Pressboard Estates says:
This isn't a jughandle, it's a Michigan left.
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:14 am
Joe Jack from Brooklyn Heights says:
Anything that brings a bit of New Jersey to Downtown Brooklyn CANNOT be good.
Sept. 2, 2014, 9:26 am
Ted from Forto Pronto says:
I got the pun.

But the word is "Queue."
Sept. 2, 2014, 10:31 am
The Duke from Flatbush says:
Time to import something else from Joisey to that intersection, the bounce barrier.
Sept. 2, 2014, 10:44 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Since when does a reporter 'star' in a news report?
Sept. 2, 2014, 11:13 am
Seth R from Bed Stuy says:
DoT and NYPD just need to coordinate on phase-in here. There should probably be two weeks of non-enforcement (just so everyone can see the signage. A week of warnings by NYPD, and then a period of focused ticketing, by which point the problem should solve itself.

Unfortunately, at Essex & Delancey it took months for NYPD to come in and start enforcement, before which most drivers ignored the change.
Sept. 2, 2014, 11:49 am
Jules from East Williamsburg says:
It's a tale of two cities....
Sept. 2, 2014, 2:44 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
A toll on the East River bridges would help.
Sept. 2, 2014, 3:33 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
@Joe jack, took the words right outta mouth. I wish these clowns quit trying to suburbanize NYC with these jersey jughandles. Anybody thats ever drove in NJ knows those friggin' jughandle turns are pretty darn annoying.
Sept. 2, 2014, 4:57 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
This turning scheme is great idea. needs just a bit of tweaking. The Myrtle Avenue green light needs to be extended a bit. pedestrians only have a short time to cross and the short green jams some cars in the jug handle. The end result means cars still get hung in the intersection. Also too many illegally parked cars (looking at you FDNY) are in he turning loop. Makes it hard for busses to turn and again discourages people from using the loop. Great idea, just tweak the length of the light.
Sept. 2, 2014, 5:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
One of the reasons could be because it's still new to them. Another can be that they find the normal left turn from there to be much easier than the new idea, because they see it as being unnecessary or a waste of gas. Even some special places for making left turns like on Central Park Avenue in Yonkers doesn't use an oval, but rather a semi-circle instead for such turns. Also, I don't know if making them go into a loading zone is a bright idea, because it could be full at times making it hard to make that left turn. I still think trying to make the light for the left turn signal last longer is a better idea not to mention will probably cost less and save plenty of time compared to spending to place signs to reroute everyone where to make the turn from now on.
Sept. 2, 2014, 6:57 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Something could have been done a long time ago to make it easier to cross without redesigning lanes; all red stop signals and additional time for pedestrians. Why doesn't the DoT look at their 'most dangerous' intersections and make signal adjustments? Now you have drivers making a left turn into a place that's crowded with pedestrian traffic, makes no sense to me considering an overwhelming number of pedestrian deaths area result of failure to give right of way...
Sept. 2, 2014, 7:49 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"Why doesn't the DoT look at their 'most dangerous' intersections and make signal adjustments?"

Because adjusting lights is cheap. Reconstruction gives contracts and contracts give kick backs.
Sept. 2, 2014, 8:25 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Just makes no sense to me if they wanted to make crossing easier for pedestrians why would they make drivers turn right into pedestrian traffic crossing north on Myrtle, then come back around to more pedestrians south on Myrtle only to go back to the same cross section they say they are trying to ease? And as far as cars blocking north bound traffic on Flatbush, when drivers start taking this detour they will block traffic going both ways on Flatbush.
Sept. 2, 2014, 8:37 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I have never thought that intersection particularly onerous. If you're coming off the Manhattan bridge, stay in the rightmost lane and avoid any backups. If that turn is problematic for people who want to get to Myrtle, then they can exit at Wythe/Kent and approach it from the other side via Vanderbilt. It's nowhere near the intractable traffic headache that, say, the Southern State is around JFK, the FDR exit to the Brooklyn Bridge, or the LIE through the heart of Queens. So importing an abomination from New Jersey like the jug-handle to "fix" it is bizarre and wrong.
Sept. 2, 2014, 10:49 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
It also boggles the mind why the NY DoT cannot adopt a simple innovation that has been employed the world over where pedestrians would like to cross big, busy, multi-lane streets: the pedestrian overpass. You can make them with ramps for the handicapped, they are cheap and easy to build. Nobody has to stop, either car or pedestrian, nobody has to get run over by distracted drivers trying to shave a second off their best time while texting with their BFF. Queens Blvd, McGuinness, Flatbush, Atlantic, and the like would all be prime candidates for such structures.
Sept. 2, 2014, 10:53 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Pedestrian overpass?

You can build them and they can ignore them.
Sept. 3, 2014, 6:11 am
JAY from NYC says:
It seems to me that the problem before this new "innovation" was that drivers were driving in a dangerous fashion and the police were not doing anything about it. Now there is a new traffic pattern, and the police still are not doing anything about drivers driving dangerously..
In other words its not drivers who are flouting the law, so are the police by refusing to enforce the law
Sept. 3, 2014, 8:56 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Drivers weren't driving in a dangerous fashion beforehand, not anymore usual than normal. What was happening is that the light on the other side at Prince Street wasn't in synch to allow drivers making the left turn to clear the intersection. Also, instead of creating a bike lane, then parking lane (with no parking during rush hours) then a driving lane; Myrtle has a parking lane, bike lane then driving lane, so drivers squeeze into 1 lane. And the light on Prince still isn't in synch so now drivers will block traffic going in both directions on Flatbush Ave. Drivers will now encounter pedestrians at 3 crossings instead of 1 as well. I don't see how this is an improvement.
Sept. 4, 2014, 10:20 am
ty from pps says:
Common Cents --
I'm not surprised you don't see how this is an improvement...
Sept. 4, 2014, 1:22 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't see how creating a special place for making left turns in an active loading zone is a good idea. What if there is no space in the loading zone when there are those that want to make that left? Just place them back to that special left turn only signal where it was a lot easier. Whatever the DOT was taking when thinking of this, I don't want any of it. The reason why some of us think this isn't an improvement is because it can actually increase the travel time rather than reduce it.
Sept. 4, 2014, 5:46 pm
ty from pps says:
So, I guess that answer is yes...
Sept. 5, 2014, 1:07 pm
Peter Engel from Fort Greene says:
A lot of whining about nothing. While DOT hasn't communicated this well, the change is a good idea.

An NJ jughandle makes perfect sense here. Those left turns are blocking traffic flow on Flatbush.

The circle on Myrtle Walk leading to MetroTech is NOT a loading zone. There are mostly green cabs and black cars milling about.
Sept. 5, 2014, 3:07 pm
Peter Engel from Fort Greene says:
You call that a MUTINY? I call it early bugs in a promising change that people will have to get used to.

If you choose to go back there for an update, I hope you'll notice the traffic cop there making sure drivers don't turn left.
Sept. 5, 2014, 3:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I have driven through that intersection numerous times when coming off the Manhattan Bridge, and that original lane is a left turn only for that entire block. I don't see how that can block any traffic. Many of them can only make the turn when the green arrow is there, otherwise they will have to wait for the next one. I just find this new traffic pattern to be a bad idea, because it just doesn't make any sense to go into an oval from the right hand side just to make what would normally be left, and the light for going what's straight from there will probably be red by the time they get to that. In other words, this is like waiting for two traffic lights when it used to be just one. Also, I find this to be a circle route, because it's like going around South America to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and vice versa when you can easily use the Panama Canal. On a side note, this isn't Flatbush Avenue, it's Flatbush Avenue Extension, and Flatbush Avenue proper doesn't start until the intersection with Fulton Street.
Sept. 6, 2014, 2:33 pm

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