In the nick of ‘Times’! Community endorses city plan to improve nightmare intersection at Fourth, Flatbush, and Atlantic

Times on their side: Locals transit gurus endorsed a city plan to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the intersection of Fourth, Flatbush, and Atlantic avenues surrounding Times Plaza on May 18.
Brooklyn Paper
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The “Times” they are a changin’!

Local transit gurus endorsed the Department of Transporta­tion’s plan to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the harrowing intersection surrounding the triangular Times Plaza, where Fourth, Flatbush, and Atlantic avenues meet, in a unanimous vote at a Community Board 2 Transportation Committee meeting on May 18.

The group’s endorsement was accompanied by numerous suggestions for further safety improvements, but the committee’s chairwoman nonetheless commended the agency’s proposal.

“I think we all — other community boards and DOT, along with the public — worked together to achieve a good compromise,” said Juliet Cullen-Cheung.

The city, working in partnership with Barclay’s Center developer Forest City Ratner which is contractually obligated to fund the project, first proposed a redesign of Times Plaza last year that was panned by a coalition of elected officials including council members Brad Lander, Laurie Cumbo, and Steve Levin, who called out the transit department for placing vanity before safety.

“How could you plan a plaza here before you make it safe?” Streetsblog quoted Lander saying at a press conference last year. “The intersection has to be safe before the plaza is made lovely. Lovely is good, safety is essential, so let’s start there.”

The streets surrounding Times Plaza — which safety-concious locals have suggested transforming into a roundabout — were the site of 367 injuries between 2010-2014, and the intersection ranks in the top 10-percentile for traffic related fatalities in Brooklyn, according to Department of Transportation statistics.

The intersection is also home to several long crossings, particularly at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, where pedestrians schlep what is nearly the width of a football field to get from one corner to the other.

The city has already installed a rubber island at the midpoint between a crosswalk at Fourth and Atlantic avenues, and plans to install four similar concrete refuges at each side of the Atlantic–Flatbush intersection, along with a concrete extension on the northern edge of Times Plaza, near the entrance to Atlantic Terminal, that will shorten crossings at Flatbush and Fourth avenues.

Other proposed amenities would include a painted, on-street pedestrian area and a widened crosswalk at Fourth and Atlantic avenues.

The city would make room for future bike infrastructure by reducing curb space on the Downtown-bound side of the Fourth Avenue at Atlantic Avenue, which should eventually accommodate a planned bike lane that will be installed along the roadway as far down as Bay Ridge.

The plan, in addition to making the area safer for pedestrians, includes measures to improve the intersection’s abysmal traffic flow, which an agency representative told the board would “fail less” under the new proposal.

Adding the new concrete islands will require cutting the number of vehicle lanes on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, including one of two right-turn lanes from Atlantic Avenue onto Flatbush Avenue in both directions. But the proposal calls for increasing the turn signal’s length, which the transit agency expects will reduce delays overall.

It also would add an additional right-turn lane from Fourth Avenue onto Atlantic Avenue.

The committee’s endorsement came with additional safety suggestions, including that the sidewalk outside PC Richard & Son on Atlantic Avenue — which itself is being redeveloped by a joint venture between Forest City Ratner and Greenland USA, an offshoot of Chinese real estate company Greenland Group — should be broadened, although transit agency presenters noted that doing so would require a large capital investment as a result of existing infrastructure there.

The excuse didn’t carry much weight with some community members, including the president of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, who said the city should spare no expense when it comes to the nightmare intersection.

“That intersection has been a mess for 40 years,” said Regina Cahill. “It deserves full court press.”

Cullen-Cheung also requested some form of barrier down the middle of Atlantic Avenue, which would prevent pedestrians from crossing the busy throughway mid block.

The committee’s endorsement of the plan still has to be ratified by the full board, which is expected to vote on the resolution at the general meeting on June 14.

If all goes well, the city hopes to begin work on the project sometime this fall.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:58 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How about just fixing the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals to work better? Then again, the anti-car fanatics, especially over on Streetsblog, will never agree to this mainly because it will make the whole idea of redesigning streets obsolete not to mention they lose the ability to give us motorists the royal screw job. Let's not forget that this intersection is dangerous because there are times when pedestrians are crossing against the walk signal rather than waiting for it making them just as bad for jaywalking, which is actually placing themselves into harm's way. Another idea would be to enforce the traffic laws on all groups, but I know those over on Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives will always be crying foul to that as well as acting like victims to the rules, plus Paul Steely White will just give another report where he will most likely give another reason to why he has an anti-motor vehicle bias.
May 24, 2017, 3:37 pm
NN from Boerum Hill says:
This seems like a very good start.

I hope they also considering removing the extra northbound lane on 4th Ave and expanding the sidewalk in front of the library.
May 24, 2017, 4:03 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I know that other readers get fed up with Tal's stupid it is my turn. Tal - you're a moron.

"enforce the traffic laws on all groups" dar drivers are not being oppressed by enforcement of traffic laws in Brooklyn. If you stand at an intersection and watch the drivers, a significant percentage are looking at a handheld device, speeding or failing to signal before turning. Let's see some VISION ZERO enforcement. Also, there are so many Uber drivers clogging up the roads (as DeBlasio predicted.) A bicyclist riding through a red light is hardly a big problem in the scheme of things.
May 24, 2017, 4:07 pm
Inquiring Mind from Sunset Park says:
How come this 200-300 year old intersection wasn't such a problem when there were actual New Yorkers living in the borough?
May 24, 2017, 4:12 pm
Peter from Brooklyn says:

You complete utter moron. NO ONE is jaywalking at Flatbush/Atlantic/4th. The plan (which you didn't read) addresses car turns through the intersection which improves safety for pedestrians who have the RIGHT OF WAY!

So please feel free to go away until you have something intelligent to add.
May 24, 2017, 4:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As usual, anti-car fanatics such as Peter and Joey resort to making personal attacks, which is exactly what I expect from them considering that they hardly act like adults when it comes to debating issues. Please tell me why fixing the timing of the traffic lights and crosswalk signals can't be done. Could it be that it will throw out the entire idea of traffic calming? Let's not forget that this is a major intersection, so vehicular traffic needs to move efficiently or there will be gridlock for blocks. Of course that didn't stop Ratner from getting his complex built even though it was already ruled a bad place to have it. On a side note, until any of you can prove to me that White doesn't have an anti-car bias, my statement about him having it will uphold by means of default.
May 24, 2017, 5:07 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
@inquiring: because automobiles offend the delicate snowflakes that came here because they were too soft to make it in their hometowns. Their families and neighbors had enough of their whining so they ran these sad creatures out of their hometowns. Now we are stuck with them, until they move to Portland.
May 24, 2017, 5:13 pm
Peter from Brooklyn says:

Because "fixing the timing of the traffic lights and crosswalks" is some random stupidity you made up that doesn't accomplish anything.

Read the proposal, read it again, understand it, ask questions if you have to, then comment.

You might actually learn something though I don't have high hopes for that.
May 24, 2017, 5:43 pm
Tyler from pps says:
I've always wondered how that Vitamin Shop is still in business... That corner seems like the most inaccessible/inconvenient spot in the whole area. When you come out of the subway at the Atlantic Terminal, making your way to that opposite corner seems like a Frodo's journey to Mordor.
May 25, 2017, 12:38 pm
Gargoyle Man from Newkirk Plaza says:
Has anyone noticed the recent upsurge of fire trucks and ambulances barreling through neighborhoods? In some instances they blast, blare, and honk even on empty streets. And why must they be so loud?
May 26, 2017, 12:43 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Yes Gargoyle, after our police, firefighters, and EMS spend hours commuting to their jobs on public transportation, they should only respond to emergencies on cargo bikes. As quietly as possible.

And people still wonder why Trump won.
May 26, 2017, 1:31 am
Gargoyle Man from Newkirk Plaza says:
Decibel levels, even on emergency vehicles, can be lowered a bit without impeding the vital work of responders. Trunk and car horns should be lowered as well.
May 26, 2017, 10 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
They need to get rid of this intersection and make it a park.
May 26, 2017, 11:53 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Peter, this was done in Seoul not that long ago and it works well with both motor vehicles and pedestrians. However, I feel that the only reason why it works is also due to the enforcement done to prevent jaywalking, which is done almost everywhere but here. Overall, fixing the timing of lights isn't some wishful thinking here.

Gargoyle Man, emergency vehicles are only blasting the sirens when there are called for emergencies. Any other times, they cannot use their sirens especially if it's just to get through gridlock. When they aren't using their sirens, they have to follow the traffic laws just like every other vehicle does. I understand that they can be noisy, but when it comes to emergencies, they need to get to the desired location as quickly as possible.
May 27, 2017, 7:06 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
They should put overhead (crossing bridges) walkways at these problematic intersections. Not that expensive (or should not be).

But of course it will get expensive when the bike riders decide they also need a bridge.

Emergency vehicles don't make noise constantly, but the cacophony of helicopters and other assorted aircraft at 6AM (the water planes are the loudest) are the worst in this dump.
May 27, 2017, 8:20 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:

You know Peter does not even have a drivers license, right?
May 27, 2017, 8:52 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The state has banned me from being near children, guess I'm moving out of state.
May 31, 2017, 2:19 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
Let's squeeze out every bit of character from the area. Can the traffic and build a skyscraper with high priced residential units. Oh yeah, and bike lanes, too.
June 6, 2017, 8 am

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