People Flock to the Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza for a Day

A mariachi band drew a crowd at the one-day plaza. Photo: David Meyer

On Saturday, neighborhood residents got an eight-hour taste of the one-block plaza DOT has proposed near the Bushwick-Ridgewood border. Going by the turnout, a permanent plaza would be a hugely popular public space for the neighborhood.

The block of Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Gates Avenue was car-free from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Foot traffic started slow, but by the afternoon the plaza was bustling with people. A mariachi band performed, a pop-up library had books for kids, and moveable chairs let people stop and rest.

This block abuts a major transit hub where two subway lines and six bus routes converge. In addition to serving as a public gathering place, the car-free plaza would vastly simplify vehicular turning movements, creating a safer walking environment. Thousands of people who walk by each day on their way to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station or the Ridgewood Bus Terminal, on nearby Palmetto Street, would benefit.

Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed at the six-legged intersection of Wyckoff, Myrtle, and Palmetto — two by MTA bus drivers.

Kids and parents enjoyed a pop-up library at the plaza demo. Photo: David Meyer
Kids and parents enjoyed the pop-up library. Photo: David Meyer
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Coloring books were a big hit. Photo: David Meyer

Two years ago, hundreds of people gathered here to remember Ella Bandes, who was struck and killed by a turning bus driver in 2013. DOT implemented some safety improvements, but the initial round of changes weren’t substantial enough. In 2014, a turning bus driver struck and killed Edgar Torres at the same intersection.

The plaza is part of a DOT proposal that goes much farther to simplify the intersection. It would reduce the number of legal vehicular movements from 25 to five for buses and three for private vehicles. By making the block of Wyckoff car-free, many of those turn restrictions would be self-enforcing.

DOT has hosted two public workshops on the redesign — the most recent last week in Bushwick — and is planning to present it to Queens Community Board 5 and Brooklyn Community Board 4 this spring, according to a DOT spokesperson.

The orange block is the site of the proposed plaza. Image: DOT