Letter to the Press
December 11, 2001
Re: Extensive plan for traffic calming is revealed
Brooklyn Heights Press & Cobble Hill News
The Brooklyn Heights Association called the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project "a baby step in the right direction." They were being kind. In fact, the project has been taking giant steps in the wrong direction for some time now, moving farther away from the community's original goal of reducing traffic on neighborhood streets and making streets safer for walking and cycling. At each step of the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project, the Department of Transportation gave speeding motorists and through traffic priority over the safety and livability of Downtown Brooklyn's neighborhoods. As a result, the community is no closer to achieving its goal than it was in 1996 when they took to the streets to demand an end to bad traffic on neighborhood streets.
The DOT's foot dragging in Downtown Brooklyn is an insult. The City knows how to reduce through traffic in neighborhoods that suffer with heavy traffic from highway off ramps. They've already done this in Chelsea and the Upper West Side. By excluding traffic reduction as a goal from the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project, the City has wasted our time, our energy and our sincerest efforts to improve our neighborhoods.
The agency is also failing to achieve its own stated goals of improving pedestrian safety and reducing speeding. The Department of Transportation's approach to the pilot project is too timid to have any effect on pedestrian safety. These half measures are worse than useless because they discredit the project and jeopardize its future.
With its experience and resources, New York should be leading the way in curbing the negative effects of traffic on the city and its neighborhoods. Proof the DOT can muster up the talent and leadership necessary to revive the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project exists next door in Manhattan. While the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project was languishing, both Times and Herald Squares in Manhattan were treated to their own pilot projects. They were made vastly more pedestrian friendly and safer using attractive, low-cost temporary treatments.
Unless the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming's Final Area-wide plan includes strategies like street reversals to reduce traffic, the community is back at square one.
Enc.: Attachment-5 things the city can do to repair the damage.
The goal of the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project is to reduce through traffic and improve pedestrian safety. Below are 5 things the City should do immediately to repair the damage:
1. Put people first: 80% of
Downtown Brooklyn residents don't have a car. Everyone walks. Don't compromise
the safety and mobility of the many for the convenience of the few.
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