Park Slope: One Way Is The Wrong Way
Most advocates believe that two-way streets function better for pedestrians, cyclists, commerce, and livable streets. In fact all across the country, hundreds of cities are changing one-way streets back to two-way.
But in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the NYC Department of Transportation - without any community input or stated reason - has developed a plan to turn two-way 6th & 7th Avenues into one-way corridors for traffic like 8th Avenue. In this StreetFilm, advocates from each of the NYC Streets Renaissance partners show just how much 8th Avenue differs in its street geometry and car speeds and how it would impact neighborhood life on 6th and 7th Avenues.
Aaron Naparstek: [00:04] Look how fast these guys are going. This is… I mean it’s unbelievable. This is a residential street. This is one of the most beautiful residential blocks in all of New York City, and you’ve basically got, you know, vehicles treating it like a highway. Look how fast this guy’s going. That’s what people do on this street and basically DOT wants to turn 6th Avenue into a street just like this.
Aaron Naparstek: [00:30] The Department of Transportation announced that it has a plan to transform three Avenues that run through Park Slope, Brooklyn. The plan involves narrowing 4th Avenue, which is a big major six lane thoroughfare. It involves turning 6th and 7th Avenues into one-way streets, similar to 8th Avenue here. We actually don’t know many details of the plan because the plan was essentially developed in secret.
Graham Beck: [01:06] 8th Avenue behind me is a one-way street, and as you can tell, the cars move incredibly fast. We’re going to do some speed gunning to see just how fast they move. 28. 32. 35. 29. 39. 39 miles an hour. 40 miles an hour. Oh, 44.
Graham Beck: [01:38] 18. 19. 14. 10. 20. 21. 18. We got a cyclist. 12. 21. 15. 18. 20. I mean this batch of cars is moving about half the speed of the cars on 8th Avenue. Well on 8th Avenue we were getting speeds in the mid 20’s, 30’s, even the low 40’s. That one-way street really encourage vehicles to travel faster and it was even a little scary standing out there with the speed gun. On 7th Avenue our high speed was 25 miles an hour.
Aaron Naparstek: [02:16] One-way streets like 8th Avenue here, they just aren’t… they just aren’t as friendly to neighbourhood life, you know they’re not… they’re not as conducive to neighbourhood life. You’ve got hundreds of cities and towns all across the US right now that are taking their old 1950’s era one-way multilane highways and they’re turning them back into two-way streets, because two-way streets people generally feel are more conducive to neighbourhood life.
Andy Wiley-Schwartz: [02:41] When you look at people who are using a street like this, there are people pushing strollers, there are people walking very slowly, there are older people and younger people walking down 7th Avenue, a commercial street like this. And they’re very comfortable walking down the street because the traffic is moving more slowly, because the traffic is going two-way and sort of inching its way down the street. They’re behaving all in the same way, they’re here to be here. They’re not here to move through here. Generally one-way streets are thought to be less favourable for the merchants and for business environment because you just have less choice. You have less choice of direction to go in, it’s harder to circulate around to get to a place where you want to go, the street is engineered for cars to move quickly through, so they have less of an ability to kind of scan the environment to find out what’s open, what’s closed.
Aaron Naparstek: [03:25] This to me is not a neighbourhood street. It’s loud, you can hear.
Aaron Naparstek: [03:36] We’re not even exactly sure what problem the traffic engineers are trying to solve, cos if they had asked the community, the community would have told them that, you know, one-way 8th Avenue here is actually one of the biggest problems in the neighbourhood. Parks Slope Civic Council did a big transportation forum last year and that’s what people told them. They said they didn’t like 8th Avenue, they didn’t like the way that traffic moved so fast here. One of the things that the DOT is going to point to is that there are fewer pedestrian injuries and fatalities on 8th Avenue than there are on 7th. You know maybe it just means that this is a less pleasant place to walk, a place where people don’t want to walk with their kids.
We just had a little boy, a four year old killed on 3rd Avenue
and Baltic Street, run over in the crosswalk with the light giving him
the right-of-way, and DOT was supposed to finish doing traffic calming
improvements on 3rd Avenue by the end of fiscal year 2006,
Commissioner Iris Weinshall said it herself. Well it’s 2007
and not only is the work not done, but it hasn’t even been started.
There are a lot of other pedestrian safety issues in the neighbourhood
that people really want the city to address. And the city isn’t
doing it and they’re coming in here and they’re saying that this
one-way street thing is all being done for pedestrian safety.
Well, you know, we don’t buy it. It’s not believable.
It’s not credible.