Major changes have started to come to fruition on Gerritsen Avenue, and a lot of residents are surprised. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Vision Zero plan for the Avenue was news to most folks when they saw their bus stop no longer there, and the installation of a new bike lane.
We reported over the summer about the tragic death of Sean Ryan, 17, at the hands of an allegedly speeding drunk driver. It caused an outcry among Gerritsen Beachers for more traffic lights — a petition was passed around, like many times before in Gerritsen Avenue’s contentious history,
The DOT quietly went along with a safety plan that includes taking away three bus stops on the Avenue, installing a two-way bike lane on the northbound side, and reducing the traffic lanes to one lane on each side, according to the DOT plan.
Senator Martin Golden met with DOT Commissioner Trottenberg to discuss possibilities for a traffic calming plan after Ryan’s death. Then, the DOT briefed City Councilman Alan Maisel about their plan, according to a DOT spokesperson. Three days later, on October 17, they held a low-key meeting with Senator Golden to tell the residents about the plan.
However, few residents knew about the meeting — only 50 people were there, according to the DOT, and they all supported the plan.
This is fishy, according to local residents Linda Hardy and Tom Sullivan who have garnered substantial support to stop the plan from being completed under its current specifications.
“Between online and handwritten petitions we have over 1,000 people against it,” said Sullivan. “They had a meeting with Marty Golden and maybe 60 people — it was a hush-hush meeting. They showed the plan, and the select few that were told all agreed with it. But everyone at the property meeting was totally against.”
The quiet meeting wasn’t technically required of the DOT, according to Community Board 15. They hadn’t asked for input or ideas for the plan, but simply showed CB15 what will be happening. The reason for this, according to CB15, is that it is a Vision Zero project, which gives it the authority to be streamlined.
“How could they come in with a plan that changes the neighborhood and not talk to the neighborhood about it?” asked Linda Hardy.
Hardy, Sullivan, and the 1,050 residents who signed the petition are worried about their ability to get out of the neighborhood in the case of another superstorm. They also worry that the one lane each way would clog the Avenue, and block emergency vehicles from getting to where they need to go.
Furthermore, the bus stops being taken away displaces many people who use those buses to get out of the tucked-away neighborhood. When asked about the bus stops, the DOT had only this to say:
“As part of the new Gerritsen Ave design, DOT worked closely with MTA officials to reevaluate bus operations on the corridor. Upon a study of ridership numbers, as well as bus stop spacing, the MTA agreed that stop consolidation will affect three stops: Devon Ave, Bartlett Pl, and Seba Ave. These stops were removed in early November.”
Among the changes coming to Gerritsen Avenue are a new traffic signal at Channel and Gerritsen Avenues to provide extra safety for children crossing to and from P.S 277; more marked crossings at the intersection between Avenue X and Lois Avenue to “enhance the safety of pedestrians;” pedestrian safety islands in the middle of the road at certain spots to shorten crossing distance and discourage drivers from driving in the median; bus boarding islands for northbound buses to enhance accessibility and bus speed; and, finally, a two-way bike lane net to Gerritsen Park.
The DOT estimates that the markings will be done by the end of the month, and work will be picked up again and finished when the weather permits next spring.
What do you guys think about these changes?