The Civic Council’s Livable Streets Committee is gearing up for a very exciting — and productive — 2012. Our focus has been what happens on our community’s streets and sidewalks for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike. Our group has worked on beautification, traffic calming, traffic flow, bike lanes, and security, among other issues.
For the coming year, we’ll be pursuing four primary initiatives:
The city’s Department of Transportation will soon launch its BikeShare program, with some 10,000 bicycles and 600 bike stations coming to Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Livable Streets Committee hopes to work with DOT on this exciting program, consulting on where the stations will be located, where others might be added, or where stations might be moved, depending on events and activities throughout the year.
We also intend to monitor how the bike stations are used — for example, if a station is underutilized, we will make recommendations for a better site.
The Civic Council’s successful 2010 public forum on “The Future of 4th Avenue” spawned the Livable Streets subcommittee FORTHonFourth. A committed, enthusiastic group crystallized; members advocated for better development and zoning along the avenue, and stayed on top of such issues as flooding, speeding, and beautification. (Read more about these accomplishments here and here.)
Now that Borough President Marty Markowitz has created the Fourth Avenue Task Force, which aims to improve the borough-long boulevard “from Atlantic Avenue to the Atlantic Ocean,” the Livable Streets Committee will reorganize our efforts here. We will continue to work on issues specific to our neighborhood’s portion of the avenue and join any of the various committees created as part of the borough president’s group.
DOT recently launched Neighborhood Slow Zones, a program to work with communities and reduce speed limits from 30 mph to the much safer 20 mph in selected areas. Livable Streets will explore how best to implement this “20 Is Plenty” initiative in Park Slope, investigating appropriate sites in the neighborhood (such as school zones) and making recommendations to DOT.
This program already exists in a Bronx neighborhood and in many other cities throughout the country; a recent Civic Council walkabout in Hoboken, N.J., to view how zones there work was extremely instructive). This speed reduction has been a quantifiable life-saving measure around the world; according to DOT, London has experienced a 42% reduction in injuries in its “20 Is Plenty” zones.
Funding is available from DOT for sidewalk benches from its CityBench program. The Livable Streets Committee plans to make recommendations on best locations for new seating in our community. Obvious sites should be where the elderly, parents with young children, and other weary travelers may need to rest (bus stops, banks, supermarkets, etc.)
The Livable Streets Committee invites everyone interested in these initiatives to join us at our monthly meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16, 8 a.m., at the Lyceum, Fourth Avenue and President Street. (Thereafter, we will meet at the best time and place to accommodate most folks’ schedules.) Hope to see you there!
— Judith Siegel Lief chairs the Livable Streets Committee; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the December 2011 Civic News