Traffic is a major issue in downtown Brooklyn. In Boerum Hill, residents have seen their streets become pass-thru's for cars and trucks taking alternate routes off Atlantic Avenue, as well as an increase in speeding. To attempt to deal with these quality of life issues, a was formed.
The group of about 12 people first met last night, and agreed on a host of issues they would work for.
Hope Reichbach, a member of Councilmember Stephen Levin’s staff, led the meeting, beginning with a story that showcased the importance of the task force, and also exemplified strong community interest.
recently standing on the corner of Dean Street and Boerum Place, where cars had been known to speed and blow-thru a stop sign, once even crashing into a corner building. Reichbach said she collected 80 signatures in 20 minutes from residents wanting a speed bump on the block.
“I think there are opportunities for that kind of organization throughout Boerum Hill," she said, adding that her goal is for the task force to be action oriented.
"It’s frustrating for people because you hear about something and it never seems to go anywhere," she said. "So this forum to me, I want to go over what anyone thinks, what comes to mind to people, and then [move to] the next step."
The attendees talked about numerous issues including: the use of speed humps, speed lights, parking placards and no honking signs, as well as the effectiveness of police enforcement on their streets, speeding along Atlantic Avenue, traffic congestion, noise issues and bicycle safety.
But the task force did decide on a number of issues to focus on.
The first task is to look into installing red light cameras, leading pedestrian intervals (this allows pedestrians extra time to cross the streets before cars get the green light) and pedestrian countdowns on Atlantic Avenue.
They are also supporting a plan to get rid of the no standing zones from 4 - 7 p.m. on Atlantic Avenue.
The group also voted to look into installing speed cameras in the neighborhood. These cameras allow the city to ticket or send summonses to speeding drivers, based on their license plate numbers captured on camera.
They also voted to support the return of two-way tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and for the extension of the now summer-only ferry service which operates from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.
Juan Martinez, general counsel of Transportation Alternatives said that the task force is a "fantastic idea” and he will continue to participate.
“I am just really grateful that the local councilmember put this together,” he said. "When you talk about the dangers of speeding cars along Atlantic Avenue, it’s great when the councilmember takes it seriously.”
Kevin Chatham, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives and a resident of Boerum Hill since June, was impressed by the first meeting and happy that the group discussed bike lanes since he is an avid biker.
“I thought everyone brought up important points,” he said, adding that he viewed the issues as health related and not just about traffic. Chatham said he would probably continue to attend the task force’s meetings.
Dwight Smith, a member of Boerum Hill Association, said the meeting was useful.
“I think to the extent that we can pull in enough of the various interest groups in the area, and we’re all on the same page effectively, we can have some influence on any number of these things,” he said.
The task force is inviting Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri to join their next meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for March 15.