The Bortnick Plan for 86th Street and Fourth Avenue

Allen Bortnick calls for police observation tower in the 86th Street and Fourth Avenue intersection

Tower of power: The Bortnick Plan would place an observation tower at the center of the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 86th Street, staffed by a police officer with a megaphone to scold jaywalkers.
The Brooklyn Paper
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The intersection of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue is about to become the site of another collision — between the Department of Transportation and Community Board 10 member Allen Bortnick.

The outspoken member of the board’s Traffic and Transportation Committee has released an alternative plan to the agency’s own designs for the intersection, which are the centerpiece of the city’s controversial vision for overhauling Fourth Avenue.

Bortnick blasted the department’s plans — and the people who drew them up — as certain to wreak havoc on the roadway.

“They don’t know what they’re doing. These people are complete idiots,” fumed the fossil-fueled firebrand. “They are going to create traffic back-up like you are not going to believe.”

The city’s proposal entails a concrete refuge island on the Verrazano Bridge side of the junction and a sidewalk pedestrian fence stretching from 86th Street halfway to 87th Street on the side nearest Third Avenue. It also calls for stripping away a driving lane in each direction between 86th Street and Ovington Avenue to put the brakes on speedsters.

Bortnick — who once put out a plan for stifling the stink from the Owls Head Sewage Treatment Plant with tubs of chlorophyllcalls instead for the construction of a seven-foot-high pedestal dead center in the intersection. Atop the pedestal, the Bortnick Plan would mount a booth outfitted with windows looking out in all directions and a switch panel for operating the traffic and walking signals. A police officer would be at the controls at all hours.

The box would also come equipped with a microphone and speaker system, so the cop can yell at pedestrians endangering themselves by jaywalking.

“He can say, ‘hey, you, in the black overcoat, you’re jaywalking, get back,’ or tell people, ‘wait for the light, don’t cross against the light,’ ” said Bortnick, arguing that reprimands would stop illegal street-crossers in their tracks. “If somebody’s doing something wrong, and you point them out, everyone’s going to be looking at them and they’ll cut it out.”

The police presence at the intersection would also be enough to deter speeders, according to Bortnick, the neighborhood panel’s leading opponent of city efforts to revamp Ridge streets.

The city said that it was not considering any measures remotely resembling Bortnick’s plan, and that it intends to push ahead with its current redesign ideas — which it claimed have already improved safety in other communities along Fourth Avenue.

“DOT continues to work with Community Board 10 on this important initiative that is already enhancing safety for all users of Fourth Avenue in neighborhoods stretching from Downtown Brooklyn to Sunset Park,” said an agency spokesman.

Community Board 10 is due to make a decision on the city plans at its October general meeting, after critics of the plan blocked a vote in June. Bortnick, who was appointed to the neighborhood panel by Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), vowed to put off the vote even longer if he can. He suggested a new mayoral administration could mean a change of plans — and argued that obstructing the free flow of automobiles through Bay Ridge would be an existential threat to the fair metropolis we call home.

“We’ve got to keep this from going through ’til next year,” said Bortnick. “If there’s no traffic, there’s no New York City.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
Updated 10:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rob from Greenpoint says:
I think it's fair to say that Bortnick has lost his marbles (if he ever had any). How did they let this amateur on the Community Board? Why is he allowed to joke around like a fool while people are dying, and while we know how to reduce crashes?
Sept. 24, 2013, 6:35 am
Tee from Bay Ridge. says:
What an idiot. Get him off of this board now.
Sept. 24, 2013, 8:09 am
Brian Van from Gramercy says:
The "Shaming Tower" proposal won't do anything to deter speeders, because this facility wouldn't provide a way to give speeding citations. No punishment... no problem!

This would also prevent cars from making efficient left turns through the intersection, so in that sense it's lose-lose.

Also, I bet someone would get killed soon enough just trying to get to/from such a facility on a busy road. Highway toll booths have to have tunnels to reach the booths, because if workers tried to cross toll lanes (even the closed ones) they risk getting squashed by caution-less drivers.

Remember, if drivers took appropriate cautions, we wouldn't even need to talk about any of this. Until driver behavior calms down across the board, solutions to safety issues need to be thorough and careful, not wacky and untested.
Sept. 24, 2013, 8:21 am
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
The cost of the average police officer is $300,000 or more, due mostly to the cost of retirement benefits.

A 24/7 presence works out to 4.2 officers, plus sick days, so perhaps five. That's $1.5 million per year in added taxes. So who pays? Or do we just have one less police officer doing other things?

We need to go in the other direction -- more efficient government, because the cost of past pension deals and debt run up by Generation Greed is killing us. Bay Ridge has become the home of "consevatives for government waste, if that waste benefits me." Who appointed this guy, your State Senator?
Sept. 24, 2013, 8:48 am
D from Queens says:
Part of me thinks that Mr. Bortnick really just wants to man that booth himself.
Sept. 24, 2013, 9:03 am
s from ppw says:
Will, please stop quoting Bortnick or reporting on his insanity.
Sept. 24, 2013, 9:12 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
So we have Gentile to "thank" for appointing this imbecile Bortnick to the Community Board. What a joke. Do nothing Councilman appoints raving lunatic to CB10. Way to go Vinny.
Sept. 24, 2013, 9:25 am
Chris from Bushwick says:
“They don’t know what they’re doing. These people are complete idiots,” a man who has no experience in traffic engineering says about traffic engineers.

Bortnick is the best argument for dissolving Community Boards yet. A bunch of amateurs think they know better than the experts and try to wield power they shouldn't have in the first place.

By the way, this idiotic "pedestal" he proposes would actually make the intersection *more* dangerous, as it would block line-of-sight for drivers turning off of Fourth Avenue.
Sept. 24, 2013, 9:37 am
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
I know *how* he got on the board, but *why* was he appointed? Aren't there some tacit sanity standards?
Sept. 24, 2013, 9:58 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Wouldn't you know that the usual safety nuts come out to criticize a smart man for a good proposal. Mr. Bortnick should not be criticized at all since if you don't have anything nice to say you shouldn't say it. I learned that in kindergarten which is more than I can say for some of you bloggers. This is a good idea and I think we should station one officer at every intersection in the city doing the exact same thing. I know this will cause Ty to yell at me as he does when he attacks me but I believe in standing up for what's right and this time Mr. Bortnick is right. Drivers should be able to pass through here without having to look for people to hit so this police booth is a great idea to help them do that. And don't make fun of Vincent Gentile just because he appointed Mr. Bortnick to the board. He is smarter than most of you put together.
Sept. 24, 2013, 10:07 am
Enough from Bay Ridge says:
Please stop giving this idiot ink.
Sept. 24, 2013, 10:28 am
Chris from Bushwick says:
Tal: you apparently didn't learn in kindergarten the fact that you can't magically see through solid objects. Putting a pedestal at the center of the intersection would make it dangerous for turning drivers, as they would not be able to see oncoming traffic. Take a step back from your irrational, seething anger and think about it. Sometimes, a bad idea is just a bad idea.
Sept. 24, 2013, 10:55 am
Brian Van from Gramercy says:
"Mr. Bortnick should not be criticized at all since if you don't have anything nice to say you shouldn't say it. "

(followed by typical Tal Barzilai rant about cyclists)

"Drivers should be able to pass through here without having to look for people to hit"

Indeed, Tal, some people drive through Bay Ridge as if they are looking for people to hit. But please tell us differently from 50 miles away, Tal.
Sept. 24, 2013, 11 am
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
@Brian Van, 50 miles away is nooo problem: he has google maps!!! so knows better than we do.
Sept. 24, 2013, 11:37 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
You know what they say about trying but not succeeding, so nice try. You can laugh and make fun but you are not right to make fun of Mr. Bortnick for his proposal. It's not like anyone else is proposing anything better to save lives at this intersection? Why isn't the DOT doing anything if they are so smart and you agree with them? Of course you won't answer that question because it is easier to impersonate me or make fun of me which is why I identify with Mr. Bortnick and his courage. If the city has money for tennis courts and swimming pools and parks then it has money for police officers at every intersection in booths like this idea is.
Sept. 24, 2013, 12:11 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Boy, do I hate to be the one to have to say this, but your own John Wasserman has to take Tal's side on this one. If you re-read his first posting on this board and think outside the box for just a second, you may agree with me. Pardon the interruption.
Sept. 24, 2013, 1:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Thank you John Wasserman for achieving what some people only dream to achieve as a respecter of other people's ideas. I can't say the same for Ty or Other Michael and people who don't know what they are talking about because their ideas are as dumb as anyone's. The city needs to do more to make it easier for drivers to travel at high speeds here and it's important that the city try Mr. Bortnick's idea at an intersection and spend the money to do it tomorrow. But that's probably too much for people who don't think other people deserve respect can understand. I think Mr. Bortnick and Mr. Wasserman are visionaries for agreeing with me.
Sept. 24, 2013, 2:29 pm
eh? from downtown says:
"the city needs to do more to make it easier for drivers to travel at high speeds here" ... "here" in Pleasantville)??
And a cop at every intersection? Our 34.5k cops would be dedicated to covering the 12k-plus signaled intersections so that you could speed home to P'ville.
Sept. 24, 2013, 2:58 pm
Bill from Bay Ridge says:
The proposal is total insanity not worth any real commentary. Vinny what were you thinking appointing this serial nut-job. The sad part is that 4th Avenue is dangerous with rampant speeding and the total design change would help decerase risks but the change is being held hostage.

Also, can't people just ignore Tal, please.
Sept. 24, 2013, 3:39 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
A good way to fix these problems is to implement a Tokyo-style of traffic light timing, where there are periods of exclusive green lights to pedestrians and exclusive green lights to turning cars, followed by cars driving straight. You wouldn't have to building anything new, or have a paid person working there.
Sept. 24, 2013, 5:05 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Well, apparently SOMEONE didn't appreciate my deleted suggestion. What's wrong with what is basically a wooden police officer with a giant wagging wooden finger, speakers attached, put in place to deter speeding? I was simply suggesting this as a possible alternative to actually spending the money on an actual human police officer (for which a tower must be built). Pardon me. How is this idea any better or worse than the article above? Perhaps my earlier post wasn't deleted, and it was my own fault, but I guess we shall see. Have a nice evening.
Sept. 24, 2013, 5:13 pm
Rob from NY says:
Please don't bother responding to Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY. He has little else to do but rant on these boards.
Sept. 24, 2013, 5:45 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Sometimes it is best to look at both sides of the coin, if you'll excuse the cliche.
Sept. 24, 2013, 5:52 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
"The city needs to do more to make it easier for drivers to travel at high speeds here."

Tal, you're HILARIOUS! This is some of the best satire I've ever read on this site!
Sept. 25, 2013, 10:08 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What did I miss yesterday after being unable to use my computer for pretty much the whole day? For the record, I was working from 8 AM to 3 PM yesterday, so there is no way I was even here, but I can guess who did the impersonations. Also, I had to take my little brother for his bar mitzvah practices and then let him have his session over at Frozen Ropes that he had with Groupon. I wasn't even back at home until almost 6:30 last night being so packed yesterday. Anyway, the main reason why Allen Bortnick opposes this plan is probably because he sees it as more of a short term solution than a long term solution. There will still be those tempted to jaywalk even after the traffic calming would be in affect. Until that is stopped, there will always be accidents there. Unlike the imposter, who is probably Chris from Bushwick in disguise, I don't advocate for making any local streets into a racetrack, so that claim has just been debunked. I do like the idea that Jim from Cobble Hill has, but it probably won't work because neither Bloomberg or JSK will support that seeing that they can't put what they want there only.
Sept. 25, 2013, 2:52 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I agree with Jim--do it Tokyo-style with pedestrian only greens, then turning vehicle greens, then greens for cars going straight. For problem intersections like this it's the best, most cost-effective method.
Sept. 25, 2013, 3:54 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
"Tal B" at 3:52 pm is a terrific parody.
Sept. 25, 2013, 9:58 pm
Slick from Bay Ridge says:
Cellophane John -- taking every opportunity to blame Vinnie in an election season instead of offering something constructive.

Bortnick needs to be removed. He openly stated at the DOT presentation that all pedestrians are idiots, despite studies to the contrary. And that other Housewife looking blond member who totes 16 oz red solo cups and squeals into parking spaces after making illegal u-turns needs a good look-see as well.
Sept. 26, 2013, 10:08 am
Billy from Bay Ridge says:
John Wasserman's wooden police officer idea is by far the best traffic calming measure I've ever heard of.
Sept. 26, 2013, 3:08 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Another reason why the Tokyo style plan for traffic control won't go through is because it will make the idea of traffic calming obsolete, and we all know how much the anti-car crowds will be hating this.
Sept. 26, 2013, 3:34 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
Tal, I would never even try to write under your name! It's childish and pointless... after all, any attempt I'd make to impersonate you would sound far too coherent.
Sept. 27, 2013, 8:49 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Chris, how about giving me a good reason why the Tokyo style plan shouldn't be used instead of resorting to personal attacks at me? Explain why traffic calming would be better despite most likely costing more and will probably be taking more time compared to an idea that can be fixed without having to redo an entire road? My guess is that you have nothing good to debate with, which makes you the child here, not me. If you don't want to debate with me, then simply don't, because I am not forcing you to do so, plus you can always choose not to read my comments as well and just ignore them like a mature adult, though I doubt you really are one with that attitude. For the record, I have nothing against those that don't want to agree with my views, but it's another to make a personal attack. As for Mr Bortnick, he doesn't deserve personal attacks either, and just like the rest of you, he is entitled to his views as well as we all live in a free country. If you don't like the fact that you live in a country where others can state something doesn't agree with you, then move to Zimbabwe and become the next dictator as you can have traffic calming forced on everyone by pointing guns to them and saying that they have agree to having it or you will blow their brains out.
Sept. 27, 2013, 2:47 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Big Police officer made of wood. Giant, waggable finger. Loud speakers. Duct tape a camera to it; I don't care. Pardon the monotony of the suggestion.
Sept. 27, 2013, 3:26 pm
Landscaping Annapolis from says:
This matter is downcast to earth, hats off buds out there.
Oct. 27, 2013, 11:44 pm
Landscaping Annapolis from says:
Info is out of this world, I would bang to see more from your writers.
Oct. 27, 2013, 11:46 pm

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