As historians are quick to point out, change is a slow and sometimes painful process. It took years for folks to buy Copernicus' theory that the earth revolves around the sun. Occasionally, something comes along, like the invention of electricity, that spurs a revolution. The six million dollar "Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project" might be such a seminal event for New York City.
The project represents a breakthrough in how citizens participate in traffic issues affecting their neighborhoods. In this case the Downtown Brooklyn Project has five key aspects that ensure that the community will not be steamrolled by traditional DOT car-firstism.
The Request For Proposal / Project Design was written collectively by community representatives, elected officials, the Mayor's Office, DOT and T.A.
The Consultant selection committee of eight includes four community representatives appointed by local elected officials.
The consultant is instructed
to run the project as a "collaborative" process which will seek to
build consensus around specific goals, recommend specific traffic calming
solutions for achieving them and finally build consensus around a set of
Lastly, the creation of a formal framework or structure for making decisions about traffic makes it very tough for DOT to act unilaterally without facing serious political repercussions.
The challenge for T.A. and the community is to do the hard work posed by this open process by attending public planning sessions and presentations and accepting that we have to do serious study and thinking to produce the best solution. It's a challenge we welcome. The next step for T.A. is winning the same area-wide, community based, traffic calming process in communities around the city.