Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Help Improve B61 Service

Councilman Brad Lander writes...
Our office is looking for volunteers to help improve the service of the B61 bus. By collecting data on B61 performance, our office is seeking to determine what can be done to help improve the speed of the B61. We are collecting ridership data to assess:
  • The number of riders who use the B61
  • Which bus stops have the highest and lowest ridership
  • Which buses are the most chronically delayed
  • How the closure of the Smith-9th Street subway station is impacting B61 riders' commutes
  • Where "bunching" of buses most frequently occurs along the route.
Our office will provide volunteers with the necessary field sheets to record their data. Volunteers will collect data on Monday-Thursday from July 11-28. Morning shifts are 7-9am and evening shifts are 4:30-6:30pm.
If you want to help -- and every bus rider in our neighborhood should! -- then get in touch with Matt Green at the councilman's office. He's reachable at 212-788-6969 and mgreen@council.nyc.gov.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge Park Access Improvements

On Thursday, July 7, representatives from NYC Department of Transportation presented proposed alterations to the intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Columbia Street and Furman Street in order to increase safety for the large number of pedestrians and bicyclists that cross this intersection due to the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

More than a year ago COWNA requested improvements to this intersection as part of our comprehensive survey of Columbia Street safety needs. Other neighborhood groups and elected officials have also pushed for improvements. Thanks are due to DOT for working hard to bring this proposal before our community, presumably as quickly as they were able to.

Image from DOT
The proposed changes will improve the experience of getting to the park. However, it falls far short of a comprehensive solution to the problem of providing convenient and safe access to one of New York's newest and most compelling public spaces.

The central failing of the proposal is its acceptance of the existing traffic conditions around the BQE entrance at Atlantic and the existing truck access to Pier 7. We all know that a significant contributor to the congestion around the intersection of Atlantic, Hicks, Furman and Columbia is drivers taking shortcuts on Hicks, Furman and Columbia to avoid the BQE. Any plan to improve pedestrian safety should have included a thorough analysis of these traffic patterns and measures to reduce the bypassing traffic. At the most dangerous intersection, the ramp from Atlantic to the eastbound BQE, the proposal suggests mainly new signage. This is hardly likely to result in a significant improvement.

At the truck entrance to Pier 7, the proposal includes only providing better sight lines. What really should be acknowledged is that the pier entrance is just in the wrong place. It should be moved to the intersection of Columbia and Congress, where there are already gates, and signalized. This would also allow the creation of a safe pedestrian crossing at Columbia Street and Congress, which is convenient for people approaching from Cobble Hill. The current proposal recommends introducing a new crosswalk at the BQE westbound entrance which puts pedestrians in conflict with vehicles exiting the BQE onto Columbia.

The proposal includes two welcome changes: widening of the sidewalk curving into the park at the south side of Atlantic by shifting the bike lanes into the street and changing the B63 bus route to eliminate the U-turn. Unfortunately, the bike lanes will be protected with jersey barriers, a distinctly second-rate configuration which will probably remain in place for years, slowly deteriorating.

This is essentially a 'painted-on-the-street' proposal and should be considered no more than a temporary placeholder approach until a worthy design that appropriately prioritizes and serves the park-going public is created.

Neighborhood Meeting

Please join the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association for our summer

Thursday, July 21, 2011
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

On the agenda:
Helicopter Noise
Columbia Street Safety
Campaign for Healthy Ports
Fix the Ditch
Nominations for Board Positions

Jalopy Theater and School of Music
315 Columbia Street
Between Woodhull & Hamilton