Fast-moving Kent Avenue is a tragedy waiting to happen, say neighbors who are pushing the city to install stoplights along the thoroughfare near East River State Park.
Residents believe that the combination of tourist pedestrians, bicycle commuters, and children at play alongside heavy vehicles with no signals slowing them down make the avenue a death trap.
“There are cars and bicyclists and strollers and ice cream trucks,” said Friends of East River State Park member Jackie Meyer. “I’ve seen a lot of near misses. It’s just a matter of time before there’s a tragedy.”
Last summer, nearly 8,000 people came into the park each weekend for the popular hipster markets Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea. In addition, thousands of bicyclists ride along the bike path connecting Williamsburg to Fort Greene each day.
The city says it hears the concerns, but that federal standards disqualify the road from getting new traffic signals.
“It is federally mandated and if we don’t have enough of the mandates, we cannot do it,” said Joseph Palmieri, Brooklyn roads commissioner.
If the city cannot install traffic lights, there may be other tools, such as rumble strips, that the city can use, said Palmieri. But because the avenue is a bus route, the city says it cannot install speed humps either. The excuses do not satisfy neighbors, who accuse city road planners of being “bean counters” who are twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the street to rack up a certain number of crashes, injuries, or deaths before taking action.
Palmieri said he will ask the transportation department to conduct more studies on the avenue.