Since 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s 4th Avenue Task Force, has been working to make 4th Avenue in Brooklyn safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. NYCDOT has split the avenue into three segments – Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Park Slope – and is working with each neighborhood’s respective community board to develop road design changes that can be implemented in less time than a traditional NYCDOT capital project.
Running from Bay Ridge to Downtown Brooklyn and lined with schools, senior centers, stores, subway stations, homes, religious institutions, restaurants, bars and other neighborhood amenities, parts of 4th Avenue are classified as a local road, while other parts are classified as an urban arterial. The road has two to three travel lanes in each direction (plus two parking lanes), with vehicles traveling much faster than the posted speed limit. Not surprisingly, TSTC found 4th Ave to be among Brooklyn’s Most Dangerous Roads for Pedestrians in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
On Tuesday, NYCDOT unveiled community driven plans for 4th Avenue’s third and final segment in Park Slope (15th Street to Pacific Street). To address the project goals of reducing speeding, making it easier to cross and simplifying turns, NYCDOT proposed establishing left turn bans and adding bike corrals for bike parking as well as planters for beautification. The plan would keep 4th Avenue’s three lanes in each direction northbound from Union Street to Atlantic Avenue, but would put in place traffic calming measures and a wider median in other sections, reducing lanes to two in each direction.
These improvements come from both the online comments submitted by the public as well as the public workshop session held in February. NYCDOT will incorporate comments it received from Tuesday’s Open House and present the updated plans to Community Board 6 and Community Board 2, whose approvals are necessary for the improvements to move forward.
A similar process is occurring concurrently on Bay Ridge’s 4th Avenue section (66th Street to 101st Street) where, after NYCDOT received over 60 online comments and conducted a public workshop in January, the Agency proposed improvements that include high-visibility crosswalks between 91st and 92nd Streets, left turn bays and a sidewalk extension at Bay Ridge Parkway, and a crossing island at 86th Street. (Read more here.)
NYCDOT will incorporate feedback received at the Bay Ridge Open House and present its Bay Ridge proposal to Community Board 10. Improvements will be made pending CB 10’s adoption.
Community Board 7, whose stretch of 4th Avenue runs from 15th to 65th Streets, was the first Board to approve the street improvements. CB 7 adopted the Sunset Park segment improvements last May and improvements started in August. Changes to this segment include a road diet, left turn bans at certain intersections and widening 52 crossing islands, making it easier for pedestrians to get across 4th Avenue. While it remains too early to know definitively whether the changes have met the improved safety goals, at a CB 7 Transportation Committee meeting held earlier this month, NYCDOT representatives said preliminary data is “very promising.”
With improvements steadily moving forward, 4th Avenue’s transformation from one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous roads for walking into “Brooklyn Boulevard” may soon become a reality.