Eyes on the Street: A Super-Sized Pedestrian Island on Bushwick Avenue

Bushwick Avenue used to widen at Seigel Street, making it difficult to cross. Now, there is a super-sized pedestrian island giving safer passage between a school and a library. Photos: Google Maps (above), Stephen Miller (below)
Bushwick Avenue used to be difficult to cross at Seigel Street. Now, there is a super-sized pedestrian island between a school and a library. Photos: Google Maps (above), Stephen Miller (below)

Once an extra-wide asphalt expanse, a section of Bushwick Avenue has been reclaimed by the addition of a pedestrian island. The new public space, which makes it easier to cross between Brooklyn Latin School and the Bushwick Library, is joined by smaller changes to an adjacent stretch of Bushwick Avenue installed this spring and summer.

After securing support from Brooklyn Community Boards 1 [PDF] and 4 [PDFlast fall, DOT began installation in April. The plan was developed in response to requests from the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a power base for former Kings County Democratic Party chairman Vito Lopez, and the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District.

BID executive director Betty M. Cooney is happy with most of the changes, but not the pedestrian island. “We did not ask for that,” she said. Instead, the BID had suggested using the extra asphalt for a left turn lane. “I don’t know what their thinking is,” she said of the pedestrian island. “There’s a library there. There’s a school there. It probably makes it safer, but all they had to do was put in a turn lane.”

The new pedestrian island bridges Brooklyn Latin School on the east side of the avenue with the Bushwick branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to the west. Image: DOT

The project added smaller pedestrian islands and curb extensions where Bushwick Avenue intersects Moore Street, Stanwix Street, and Beaver Street. Bushwick Avenue was also re-striped for nearly three-quarters of a mile from McKibben Street to Myrtle Avenue, creating a four-foot striped median and narrowing curbside parking lanes that are open to moving traffic during rush hours.

The plan had included a new mid-block crosswalk on Moore Street to connect NYCHA’s Hylan and Bushwick Houses, but CB 1 objected and DOT erased the crossing from the plan. Proposed rush hour left turn restrictions at the intersection of Bushwick and Flushing Avenues were also removed from the plan after CB 1 opposed them. (According to DOT, left turns comprise 31 percent of crashes at that intersection, compared to an average of 7.5 percent at other Brooklyn intersections.)

Work on the pedestrian island at Seigel Street wrapped up early last month. DOT says street trees will be planted in the fall.