New York City began its first ever collaborative traffic planning venture
when the Department of Transportation and its international traffic
calming consultant, Ove
Arup, kicked off the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project with
a series of small public meetings in March 1999. The meetings are the
first of many, and are intended to elicit public opinion about what
to do to improve neighborhood quality of life and conditions for pedestrians
and bicyclists. The innovative $1.2 million Downtown Brooklyn project
study was the result of intensive negotiations between neighborhood
groups, T.A. and City officials in late 1997 and early 1998 and came
in response to a virtual uprising by residents fed up with heavy traffic
in their neighborhoods. This discontent was manifested in a series of
early morning street blocking demonstrations in 1997 which drew a broad
spectrum of west Brooklyn residents.
By far the highest priority of both T.A. and the neighborhood groups
who spurred the city into conducting the planning process is to reduce
the number of cars traveling on west Brooklyn streets. However, early
signs are that DOT has instructed its consultant to focus more on spot
pedestrian improvements and urban design changes than reducing through-traffic.
T.A. representatives have been chided by consultants for pressing for
reductions in through-traffic and for championing measures like street
reversals, rather than identifying specific problem locations. While
"traffic calming" measures like speed humps and sidewalk extensions
which improve pedestrian safety are certainly welcome, the focus of
the project must be reducing overall car trips and through-traffic.
If you live in Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Fort
Green or Red Hook, T.A. strongly urges you to get involved. We have
worked hard to give you the chance to be heard.