Atlantic Yards: Making Dangerous Streets More Dangerous

A report released last month by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign named Atlantic Avenue the most dangerous road for pedestrians in Brooklyn with 9 deaths over the three years from 2006 to 2008. Nearby Fourth Avenue ranked third with 6 pedestrian fatalities in the same period.   Both roads ranked among the most dangerous in the entire NY/CT/NJ region, with Atlantic Avenue ranking third overall.  With 20,000 additional car trips a day projected to be generated by the Atlantic Yards arena and housing project, which broke ground yesterday, these numbers may get much worse.

Many of the accidents in the report occurred near the Atlantic Yards site. For example, a 58-year-old woman was struck and killed in February of 2008 at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 5th Avenue, a 37 year old male was killed at Atlantic and Nevins in 2006, and, in 2007, a 4 year old was killed at 3rd Ave and Baltic.  All of these intersections could see traffic increases due to Atlantic Yards.

Crossing congested areas like the notorious Atlantic and Flatbush intersection on foot is already tempting fate.  A time lapse video posted recently at Not Another F*cking Blog vividly demonstrates the overcrowded and dangerous conditions and the map below shows a cluster of injuries in this area.  Sadly, it appears to be only a matter of time before more lives are claimed along Atlantic Avenue.

Blue circles indicate clusters of pedestrian injuries from 1995-2005, while red circles indicate clusters of cyclist injuries. Black impact marks are deaths. The Atlantic Yards site is outlined in red.

The Tri-State report and maps underscore BrooklynSpeaks sponsors’ fears that increased traffic from Atlantic Yards will only make nearby streets even more dangerous.  The current “modified” project plan will add giant “interim” surface parking lots around the 18,000 seat Barclays Center Arena.  With the same amount of parking as the original plan, the modified plan will likely generate at least the 20,000 new car trips originally projected.

To help prevent ever increasing pedestrian casualties, the BrooklynSpeaks coalition (which TSTC is a member of) has called on the Empire State Development Corporation and NYC to:

  • Design and implement traffic-calming measures on the streets in surrounding neighborhoods to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety.
  • Limit interim surface parking to no more than this reduced number of spaces allocated for the Arena, and define a specific timeline for their replacement by open space or non-parking uses at grade.
  • Adopt mass transit incentives and demand management strategies to reduce by 50% the number of parking spaces programmed for the Arena under the revised plan.
  • Provide adequate State and City funding for the MTA to ensure that transit service to the development is preserved and enhanced.
  • Implement residential permit parking in surrounding neighborhoods to ensure that they are not overwhelmed with cars searching for free parking on game and event days.

Finally, the City and State must prepare a comprehensive traffic plan which includes and integrates the issues above and responds to the impact of an arena at this, the most congested and environmentally compromised intersection in Brooklyn.

Image: TSTC graphic using map from Transportation Alternatives’

A version of this article has been cross-posted on BrooklynSpeaks.

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