Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Horizontal Denial

Today was both a good and a bad day to restart the practice of taking a constitutional in Prospect Park of a morning. The good was in the marked rise in temperatures that we've experienced this week. It was also a chance to catch up with some of the changes that I might have missed in the neighbourhood during my weeks of stony-faced shuttling between the subway and the apartment.

Not too much to complain about, barring the printed signs on Sixth Avenue, which contain a forthright protest against plans to turn both Sixth And Seventh Avenues into one way traffic thoroughfares. I had not noticed the ones on Seventh, either because I don't spent as much time on Seventh going to and from my constitutional, or because Sixth is much less afflicted with crazy old people that rip signs from lamposts, yea, even the Ones For Missing Cats and Ones For Lost Child Toys With The Kid's Face Blurred.

My immediate thought on hearing of this plan, which has been discussed at length by the normal thoughtful and perceptive crew, was that only a Park Slope driver could hate this plan. I assumed that this was going to be a boon to double parkers and involve longer trips round the block to ferry kids around and deal with alternate side parking rules. Nothing, so far, to concern a confirmed pedestrian.

But, as one commenter swiftly pointed out, dual carriageways make for awful drivers. Exhibit A: the Flatbush Nutters, a group of drivers that constitutes a clear and present danger to pedestrians. Exhibit B: the chaps on Prospect Park West. More refined, yes, but dangerous nonetheless.

Still, where I'm sceptical is in how this relates to the Atlantic Yards project. I'm not sure how much increasing traffic flow on these streets will take the pressure off Fourth Avenue, which is our current preferred north-south dual carriageway. This Brooklyn Papers article outlines a rather convoluted scheme for rerouting the traffic at the top end of Fourth Avenue, and it's clear that there are decent numbers of people heading east, although a lot of the traffic from south Brooklyn would be better advised to take the Belt Parkway.

I'm just not convinced that funneling westbound traffic onto Flatbush Avenue at an earlier stage brings the developer any benefits. Still, since the Streetsblog article that raised the connection notes that the Atlantic Yards' environmental impact statement does envisage some kind of monkeying around with Fourth Avenue, the traffic does have to go somewhere.

So, if Ratner and his backers really are willing to facilitate the horrendous traffic speeds and potential for increased child deaths that a one way system in Park Slope would create, just to make a cosmetic improvement to the project site, it would be the clearest sign yet that the project's planning is in the hands of incompetents and knaves.

The reason it was a bad day to start running? Too little sleep and too few smiles. I feel like Amelia right now, only, ya know, male.

Marine Research - "Parallel Horizontal"
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