A cluster of notoriously dangerous Brooklyn intersections have been visited by the Vision Zero Fairy, in order to stem the tide of pedestrian injuries inflicted by careless drivers.
The intersections of Atlantic Avenue and Washington and Underhill Avenues were treated to a handful of light safety improvements, since this particular knot of roadway has seen 99 injuries from traffic crashes between 2009 and 2013—two of which were severe. The DOT has:
- Installed shortened crosswalks.
- Built expanded concrete pedestrian space on medians and pedestrian islands.
- Installed leading pedestrian interval signal, allowing pedestrians 15 additional seconds to cross without vehicle conflict.
- Increased pedestrian crossing times.
- Restricted left turn from southbound Washington Avenue to eastbound Atlantic Avenue.
- Installed left turn flashing yellow signal at northbound Washington Avenue.
- Installed new crosswalks across Atlantic Avenue to Lowry Triangle, and along eastern edge of Washington Avenue, reflecting pedestrian desire line.
- Restricted turns from southbound Washington Avenue and westbound Atlantic Avenue to Underhill Avenue, eliminating a confusing vehicle turn.
- Installed new safety bollards to protect pedestrians.
“Atlantic, Washington, and Underhill Avenues has long been a dangerous intersection that divided this neighborhood,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a release. “I am proud of my team for tacking this complex intersection and making it safer for the Brooklynites who walk, cycle, and drive through it daily.”
While it's clear how each measure improves safety for pedestrians, it's less clear how any of them positively impact cyclists, since bike lanes weren't part of the plan. Last month, Public Advocate Letitia James wrote a letter to Trottenberg detailing why bike lanes should be a top priority for the DOT, and not just an afterthought:
The City must take every opportunity to install bicycle lanes when there is excess width on the street. Wide streets encourage higher speeds, and bicycle lanes, by narrowing the roadway, both protect cyclists and encourage drivers to maintain safe speeds. Bicycle lanes should be the default option when a street is up for a redesign, to be excluded only when community-specific factors make a bike lane inappropriate.
Last November, a pedestrian was hospitalized after being struck by a driver while crossing Atlantic Avenue at Washington Avenue. The year before that, a local restaurant owner was hit by a driver while crossing the same intersection, causing his neck to fracture in three places. He was forced to undergo spinal fusion surgery and wore a neck brace for 13 weeks.