Calming Traffic at Bergen and Smith

The folks over at Streetsblog pointed out the sidewalk extension at Smith and Bergen, part of a larger DOT traffic-calming program begun last spring, and gave a well-deserved nod to the residents, protesters, and advocates who have been fighting for over a decade to improve safety and traffic conditions in the area. We spoke with several passersby about the sidewalk extension at Bergen and Smith, and the reaction was mostly positive: it increases visibility between cars and pedestrians, shortens the crossing distance, and moderates vehicle speeds. It is, however, a lot of empty pavement, one person said—it could be more attractive with trees, benches, or public art. What do you think, readers? Are you satisfied with the changes at Smith and Bergen or any other traffic-calming measures in your neighborhoods?
Now That’s What I Call a Neckdown! [Streetsblog]
Legacy of Traffic-Calming Advocates [Streetsblog]
Brooklyn Traffic-Calming Project: 10 Years On [Streetsblog]

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  • reserving judgment. Didn’t consider this spot so uncalm.
    Now Atlantic Avenue aka speedway….that could use some xanax.

  • I can see how this spot was considered dangerous – the parked cars blocked visibility and it was one of those places you always waited for the light to change, THEN a few seconds for the inevitable extra car to go through, THEN you walked. Any pedestrian-friendly gesture I like, it makes it easier to deman it in other places.

    Worst street to cross in Brooklyn: Flatlands Ave.

  • Petebklyn is spot on. Atlantic Avenue is dangerous (several deaths in the past few years). I do not know why the Sandy balboa et al are not pushing for this. Making it easier to cross would enhance retail. It is a tough street for visitors — you cannot easily see what is on the other side adn trying to cross is a major undertaking.

  • You can almost imagine the newsstand that someone will want to put on that spot….please tell me that there’s some kind of restriction!

  • The other BIG improvement is the traffic light on Boerum Pl by the gym. I used to live on that nasty Pacific block bet Smith/Boerum and the speeding cars thru there was just unbelievably dangerous. The street is super narrow and one summer some ahole in a towncar took out all our driver side mirrors like dominoes.

  • I think this is a welcome change. Cars heading west from Bergen race through the intersection and up the street to catch the light. The street is really wide, which studies show encourages drivers to speed up. Also, there is a subway entrance right there, so lots of foot traffic. It does look a little empty now, but its a small price to pay. Perhaps Cafe Pedlar could set up a coffee cart.

  • What’s wrong with a newsstand here?

    Also, it would be hard to put trees here because of the subway line underneath.

  • About five or six years ago DOT installed a traffic island on Atlantic at Bond Street, and then removed it within six months. Anyone know what happened? I thought it was great.

  • I can rarely find a newspaper at that end of Smith street, the place on the corner of Bergen and Smith runs out quick, the place across the street (the organic place) also runs out quick, and there’s nothing between that and Atlantic ave.
    I wouldnt mind a newstand.

  • Come to think of it, a newsstand may not be such a bad idea….at least you could grab a paper before the train. But I would be concerned about a newsstand that would force me to have an anatomy lesson with my toddlers on the way to daycare (actually, I’d be more concerned about my kids asking why mine aren’t that big….).

  • Ziad’s sells papers also.

  • I think it’s a great idea…I saw a woman get hit there not that long ago. But people are right…it’s a lot of sidewalk now, and very bare. Even just some trees would dress it up somewhat. I’m not sure that a newsstand is really what we want, since there are 2 delis on the opposite side of the street as it is.

  • That corner is just begging for a big TREE!
    (The fact that the tree would be over a subway line shouldn’t be a problem. There’s lots of trees over subway lines, no?)

  • i envision the skater kids setting up their ramps and rails in this newfound spot. they used to just put them in the street and compete for space with the speeding cars.

  • The skater kids have already taken advantage of the extra pavement, I saw them enjoying the sidewalk just yesterday as I was just thinking “Haven’t seen many skater kids lately” as far as a newstand goes, smily dude that sells papers outside the F train entrance wouldn’t be too happy. Overall it’s a great addition. I’ve seen too many people fly through that intersection up Bergen which has 2 schools by Court, much safer. It’s taken them a year to do it, hopefully it won’t take another to make good use of the extra pavment.

  • Greenery can go into planters. Trees can’t be planted over the subway (Smith Street has no tress (or very few).

    I would like to see civic space here, some planters something to sit on (similar to what the DOT did in the meat packing district with re-purposed building materials, video on Steetsblog site).

    Article said bike parking was being considered. Maybe Mr. B can set up a Smith St. Mini-Flea and sell some old socks or sumting:)

    I say bravo to the DOT, more space alocated to pedesterians is never a bad thing.

  • Needs a tree! Smith Street in general needs trees. If not in the ground then in a big planter.

    The same extra wide curbs have been added a block down at Bergen & Boerum Place and on Boerum Place and Dean… really does “calm” traffic. I walk these intersections every day and have already noticed a big difference.

  • I agree that a tree, or something should go there. The space is so big, it just feels/looks odd when crossing, now. I think it’s an improvement, but I didn’t think this intersection was really that bad. Yeah, Atlantic is much worse.

  • It also nicer to cross the street now. When you get out of the station on the Dunkin Donuts side and cross Smith the cars turning left from Smith onto Bergen used to practically clip you on the sidewalk. Now with a wider turn they don’t do that anymore.

    And yes, the extra pavement is begging for something to go there.

  • I live around the corner from this spot and am pleased with the new sidewalks. They did all 4 corners in this manner, so you would think there is plenty of room for tree planters, benches, newspaper boxes and even bike parking. good work DOT

  • BoerumResident, the DOT didn’t properly mark the trial median at Bond and Atlantic. A short time after it was installed, a car smashed into it on a dark, rainy night. I don’t know if there were any fatalities, but I can’t imagine anyone just walking away from that. The DOT later dismantled it with no plans to reinstall it.

    While any traffic calming measure anywhere is an improvement, Atlantic Avenue is by far more dangerous, especially the particularly fatal intersection at Hoyt.

  • It will certainly be too much sidewalk in the snow and ice.

  • I go to Ziads pretty much daily, and havent seen a paper in there for awhile, I dont have to be to work til noon, so maybe i’m just getting to the block late.

  • DOT traffic safety regulations require a minimum sight triangle must be provided so that there is an unobstructed view for 45 ft from each intersection(which is not true of most intersections in NYC). Trees are considered to be obstructions. I am a huge fan of trees, but maybe this space is more suitable for street furniture (bike rack, newstand).

  • Sandy Balboza confirmed the median at Atlantic Ave was removed for several reasons. The main reason was that the installation failed to significantly slow traffic. Also, the project included narrowing the street which blocked about half a block of parking. Finally, the bollards were initially painted black, and there was at least one collision with them, as Brooklyn Chicken mentioned.