Fourth Avenue lane changes bad for peds, say residents

February 6, 2013 Denise Romano
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One traffic-calming device that’s part of the Fourth Avenue Safety Vision in Sunset Park is doing just the opposite, say residents.

Last spring, Community Board 7 voted to reduce Fourth Avenue between 65th Street and the Prospect Expressway from three lanes to two. The measure was part of a larger plan to increase pedestrian safety, an initiative of the borough president’s office and the Department of Transportation.

These safety plans were already implemented in Sunset Park and are now being discussed in Bay Ridge and Park Slope.

But Sunset Park resident Isabelle Verdini told this paper that the avenue is less safe since the number of lanes was reduced, due to a proliferation of double-parked cars.

“That extra little spot of lane next to parked cars makes people think they can double park,” said the 56th Street resident. “It causes congestion because it still blocks part of the second lane. You have to go around [the double-parked car] if you want to go straight.”

Verdini went onto say that pedestrians are having even more trouble crossing the street, since the double-parked cars block their line of sight – the exact opposite of what the plan aims to do.

“What will happen is that they will come out into the street to cross and will almost get hit by a car going around the double-parked car,” she explained.

Verdini said the final and maybe most dangerous problem is that the bottleneck and congestion caused the reduction in number of lanes makes it “impossible” for emergency vehicles to get through.

“People have to move over a lot to make room for emergency vehicles. When it’s congested, people cannot move out of the way,” she noted.

Verdini said that Fourth Avenue has two firehouses and major hospitals in its vicinity – Methodist Hospital and Lutheran Medical Center – making it all the more important to have a clear path for emergency vehicles.

“We really need to have clear access to Fourth Avenue,” she stressed. “The slowing down of traffic, which was DOT’s actual point of going from three to two lanes, is now making it difficult for emergency vehicles. It’s critical for me.”

One traffic-calming device that’s part of the Fourth Avenue Safety Vision in Sunset Park is doing just the opposite, say residents.

Last spring, Community Board 7 voted to reduce Fourth Avenue between 65th Street and the Prospect Expressway from three lanes to two. The measure was part of a larger plan to increase pedestrian safety, an initiative of the borough president’s office and the Department of Transportation.

These safety plans were already implemented in Sunset Park and are now being discussed in Bay Ridge and Park Slope.

But Sunset Park resident Isabelle Verdini told this paper that the avenue is less safe since the number of lanes was reduced, due to a proliferation of double-parked cars.

“That extra little spot of lane next to parked cars makes people think they can double park,” said the 56th Street resident. “It causes congestion because it still blocks part of the second lane. You have to go around [the double-parked car] if you want to go straight.”

Verdini went onto say that pedestrians are having even more trouble crossing the street, since the double-parked cars block their line of sight – the exact opposite of what the plan aims to do.

“What will happen is that they will come out into the street to cross and will almost get hit by a car going around the double-parked car,” she explained.

Verdini said the final and maybe most dangerous problem is that the bottleneck and congestion caused the reduction in number of lanes makes it “impossible” for emergency vehicles to get through.

“People have to move over a lot to make room for emergency vehicles. When it’s congested, people cannot move out of the way,” she noted.

Verdini said that Fourth Avenue has two firehouses and major hospitals in its vicinity – Methodist Hospital and Lutheran Medical Center – making it all the more important to have a clear path for emergency vehicles.

“We really need to have clear access to Fourth Avenue,” she stressed. “The slowing down of traffic, which was DOT’s actual point of going from three to two lanes, is now making it difficult for emergency vehicles. It’s critical for me.”

Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer explained that the board is waiting to get results from DOT as to what the effects of these changes are. The agency said it would take about six months to collect data and Laufer noted that these changes had just finished being implemented.

He did note that double parking was a problem on Fourth Avenue even before the lanes were reduced.

“It’s an enforcement issue,” Laufer said. “We are trying to get the 72nd Precinct to take care of that.”

Community Board 7 member Ed Wade did admit, at a recent 72nd Precinct Community Council meeting, “No doubt about it, we screwed up big. Fourth Avenue is an alternate to the Gowanus Expressway. Say anything you want, it’s Route 278-B.”

Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer explained that the board is waiting to get results from DOT as to what the effects of these changes are. The agency said it would take about six months to collect data and Laufer noted that these changes had just finished being implemented.

He did note that double parking was a problem on Fourth Avenue even before the lanes were reduced.

“It’s an enforcement issue,” Laufer said. “We are trying to get the 72nd Precinct to take care of that.”

Community Board 7 member Ed Wade did admit, at a recent 72nd Precinct Community Council meeting, “No doubt about it, we screwed up big. Fourth Avenue is an alternate to the Gowanus Expressway. Say anything you want, it’s Route 278-B.”


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