Big Pedestrian Island Proposed in Bushwick Avenue Traffic Calming Plan

DOT is proposing a large pedestrian island for the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Seigel Street to shorten crossing distances and calm traffic. Images: ##

After receiving requests from the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (yep, that one) for better sidewalks and safety improvements, DOT presented a plan [PDF] for Bushwick Avenue to Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee last week.

The biggest change is proposed for the intersection with Seigel Street, where Bushwick Avenue widens in the middle of an intersection. DOT is proposing a large traffic island to split northbound and southbound traffic. The island would restrict left turns from Seigel Street to northbound Bushwick Avenue. DOT would also introduce a new pedestrian-only phase as part of this project, stopping traffic in all directions to allow people to cross.

Changes are also proposed for Moore Street, which runs west from Bushwick Avenue between NYCHA’s Hylan Houses and Bushwick Houses. From 2005 to 2009, one pedestrian was severely injured on this block, and one cyclist was killed. Moore Street also ranks in the top third of corridors in Brooklyn for crashes, according to DOT.

There are three changes that DOT is planning to calm traffic on this block. At the west end of Moore Street, a separate capital project on intersecting Humboldt Street already includes a concrete curb extension. DOT is proposing a painted curb extension and mid-block crosswalk on Moore Street as part of the Bushwick Avenue project. The agency is also planning an island at the intersection with Bushwick Avenue, which would shorten crossing distances and split traffic turning onto Moore Street into two separate lanes.

From 2006 to 2010, there were eight severe injuries on Bushwick Avenue between McKibbin Street and Myrtle Avenue, including four pedestrians and two cyclists, and one fatality, a cyclist, according to DOT. This stretch, which is just under three-quarters of a mile, is set to receive a minor striping adjustment: By adding a four foot-wide painted median, the curbside lanes will become narrower by two feet. The curbside lanes, which are used for parking during off-peak hours but convert to car lanes during rush hour, are currently 15 feet wide.

For Bushwick Avenue between McKibbin Street and Myrtle Avenue, DOT is proposing a small painted median and narrower curbside lanes. Images via ##

Committee members noted that Bushwick Avenue is a difficult street for cycling. According to meeting attendee Johnny Beldin, DOT staff said they hoped the 13-foot curbside lanes, which are common in many DOT traffic calming projects, would create space for cyclists without otherwise encouraging riders to use the busy avenue.

DOT is also proposing rush hour left turn restrictions at the intersection of Bushwick and Flushing Avenues. According to DOT, 31.2 percent of crashes at the intersection involve drivers turning left, far higher than the Brooklyn average of 7.5 percent.

Although DOT’s presentation showed concrete pedestrian islands, which are the ultimate goal, DOT said the plan could be implemented as soon as next summer using paint and planters, according to Beldin.