The Department of Transportation is considering turning a dangerous intersection on the Brooklyn-Queens border into a pedestrian plaza, and is currently fielding community suggestions about what exactly that plaza should comprise, be that WiFi, some sort of entertainment venue, or a farmers' market.
DOT's proposal would pedestrianize Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Gates Avenue, in turn bringing down the number of potential vehicle turns by 70 percent, according to Streetsblog. There have been two dozen crashes at the intersection since 2010, and three pedestrians have been killed at the six-way intersection of Wyckoff, Myrtle, and Palmetto Street since 2009. Two of those crashes were caused by MTA bus drivers.
A 23-year-old woman was one of the three killed at this spot: Ella Bandes was crossing Myrtle Avenue at night in January 2013 when she was hit by the driver of a B52 bus. She later died from her injuries. Her death reignited a conversation about the hazardous intersection, and her family and friends have since urged the city to improve street safety at that location.
"This intersection, as with many along Myrtle, is crazy," Bushwick resident Michael Sanderson told QNS. Sanderson was seriously injured when he was hit by a car at a the intersection of Myrtle Avenue. "This intersection desperately needs to be changed before more people are killed," he added.
The proposed block for the pedestrian plaza is more heavily utilized by pedestrians than motor vehicles, according to the DOT, and if it were car-free, pedestrians wouldn't have to cross an intersection to get from the L train station to the bus terminal across the way.
The city banned 5 of 25 potential turns at the intersection in 2014, but drivers reportedly ignore the new rules frequently.
"It's just a very complex intersection and we don't think that a lot of non-compliance that we're seeing is people going in there and trying to be aggressive," Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia said at a public workshop hosted earlier this week. "The best, most straightforward way that we can address this critical safety need is really reducing the amount of turns and creating more organization out of that intersection."
The DOT will present its plan to both Queens Community Board 5 and Brooklyn Community Board 4, but if all goes well, the plaza could be up and running by this fall. On Saturday, April 9th, the city will do a trial run, closing off the plaza to motor vehicles and putting some tables and chairs in the street to give locals a sense of what it would be like.
"We've tried different things and we still haven't stopped the fatalities," Queens CB5 chair Vincent Arcuri told Streetsblog. "I have mixed feelings about the plaza, but what else can you do?"