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New left-turn bans on Flatbush go into effect on April 15

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Drivers in Prospect Heights and Park Slope will no longer be able to make some left turns off of Flatbush Avenue starting on April 15, part of the city’s effort to calm the neighborho­ods’ deadly Main Street.

The move to eliminate left turns onto Park and Sterling places comes roughly a month after Erinn Phelan was mowed down while she and a friend were crossing the perilous roadway — but the change would have done nothing to save her life.

Instead, this is a battle that the North Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District has been fighting for years.

There were nine crashes, including one fatality, on the stretch of Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Fifth Avenue in 2009, city statistics show.

The shift is long overdue because left-turning cars create congestion — and once the tied-up drivers make it through the logjam, they tend to speed to get to the next traffic light, which is often still green, said Sharon Davidson of the business improvement district.

“This is something that we’ve been trying to enforce for a while,” said Davidson. “The cars speed. … It’s not safe for pedestrians.”

Even with the left-turn ban set to take effect, Davidson said she’s not finished bargaining. She’s pushing for countdown signals to indicate how much time is left for pedestrians to cross before the oncoming traffic will get the green light. Flatbush Avenue’s unusually long crosswalks, the result of its diagonal configuration, make such timers particularly helpful, Davidson said.

“There’s not a person on this avenue who won’t tell you that he or she almost got hit by a car, including myself,” Davidson said. “Drivers do not yield to pedestrians.”

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to fix an error in the roadway configuration.
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I don't get it...How will folks in Park Slope ever be able to leave their neighborhood and drive to the Manhattan Bridge? Soon cabs will boycott PS drop-offs as they won't be able to return to Manhattan!
April 13, 2010, 11:15 am
critical mass from bk says:
The idea is to make people so miserable that they stop driving. That is what is meant by "calming".
April 13, 2010, 11:57 am
phil from pslope says:
i have trouble understanding how turning left onto flatbush is the root of the problem. i think the problem is turning left OFF of flatbush. People who want to turn left onto flatbush
from Park Place would actually do it by turning left onto seventh avenue and then onto flatbush anyway, so this solves nothing as far as i can tell. as for turning left from sterling onto flatbush, my guess is that this is a rare turn -- people would turn left onto vanderbilt before they got to flatbush if they wanted to go that direction.
April 13, 2010, 7:59 pm
bikeman from PLG says:
I think it is a good thing. Left turning vehicles should first make the right at 5th, 6th or 7th, and then make a left to go around the triangle island and cross flatbush at a diagonal. The left turning cars create congestion and it is dangerous with people swinging out of the left lane to pass vehicles stopped for turns. Now that the markings have been up for a few weeks the police need to start ticketing people who continue to make those turns.
April 25, 2010, 8:03 pm

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