March/April 2000, p.10

Proposed Pilot Projects for Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Amount to Big Zero

To the dismay of community leaders, in February, the DOT proposed a slate of pilot "traffic calming" projects for the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project so lackluster as to be almost meaningless. The pilot projects come after more than a year of community outreach and planning. One community leader likened it all to a huge bird who spent a year laying a giant egg. Now the egg has hatched and there is nothing inside.

The heart of the DOT proposal is five modest "neckdowns," - extensions of the sidewalk at corners (See T.A.'s web site for the full proposal). DOT also proposes retiming traffic lights to reduce speeds on DeKalb Avenue and widening the median at Adams and Tillary, near the Brooklyn Bridge. These are nice things, but are grossly inadequate, and will not demonstrate how to create the area-wide traffic calming needed to address the massive traffic and environmental problems inflicting downtown neighborhoods. DOT's proposal does not test combinations of devices, include speed humps, and amazingly, does not test streets engineered and signed for slow speeds. Community groups should be disappointed, given the proposed pilots are intended as a preview of the final plan.

To ensure the pilot projects actually show how traffic calming can work in Downtown Brooklyn, T.A. sent a detailed letter to the DOT requesting that an array of methods be tested. The letter noted that the DOT has cataloged more than 150 traffic calmed locations in NYC (not including speed humps). Thus, the pilot projects should go beyond a rudimentary, square one approach.

Tell the City to get the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project back on track. Demand the pilot projects include a range of traffic calming methods working together to slow speeds and reduce traffic.

Write to:
Robert Grotell
Mayor's Office of Transportation
100 Gold Street 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10007
Fax 212-788-2782

T.A.'s Recommendations:
1. Create slow speed zones and streets (as low as 15 mph) in combination with calming devices. Note the passage in 1999 by the legislature (with Mayor Giuliani's strong support) of the NYC Traffic Calming law.
2. Test changes in street directions.
3. Test raised crosswalks between neckdowns.
4. Create slow streets with neckdowns, raised crosswalks and mid-block speed humps.
5. Test wider neckdowns and narrower streets.
6. Test mid-block and corner speed humps in conjunction with neckdowns.
7. Reduced curb return/turn radii at corners without neckdowns.
8. Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) at every intersection in the primary study area.
9. Median extensions into intersections where there is no turning movement.
10. Traffic islands to improve pedestrian safety at free right turns.
11. Narrow Tillary Street west of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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