City unveils safety proposals for Meeker Avenue triangle of death

A long haul: Transportation activists are hoping the city will revamp Meeker Avenue to make it meeker.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’re making Meeker Avenue meeker.

The city on Tuesday unveiled plans for a bevy of safety improvements for Williamsburg’s most ironically named street, and locals think the scheme could finally bring some peace to the notoriously deadly thoroughfare.

“It’s dangerous, and frankly it’s terrifying, as a pedestrian who has tried to navigate it,” said Brandon Chamberlan after hearing the city’s proposed changes at a Community Board 1 meeting. “This proposal is going to save lives and prevent injuries.”

Department of Transportation reps presented a handful of changes targeting the triangle of streets where the treacherous road — which runs directly under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway — meets Union Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue around the Macri Triangle park.

Proposals include adding more crosswalks along Union Avenue between Meeker and Skillman avenues, increasing crossing times, and building out the sidewalks near crossings so there is more space between pedestrians and the vehicles that roar down the street off the expressway.

The plan would also chop a lane off the three-lane Meeker Avenue below Union Avenue to slow down traffic, and would re-route the Q59 bus — currently running down Meeker Avenue near the expressway exit ramps — down Metropolitan Avenue to lighten the overcrowded road.

The triangle has been a regular site of death and destruction in recent years, said the reps — seven people died and 90 were injured while braving the mean streets between 2009 and 2013.

Transit activists have been pushing the city to fix Meeker Avenue since last year, and begged the community board to approve the plan, saying it could prevent further death and destruction down the line.

“I urge the board through the transportation committee to approve this plan,” said Luke Ohlson of activist group Transportation Alternatives. “Hopefully we can see some fixes.”

But a handful of board members were put off by the plan’s piecemeal approach — Williamsburg and Greenpoint need a more comprehensive transportation plan to address traffic issues across the entire community, said residents sick and tired of sporadic visits from city reps regarding small sections of roads.

“If we’re going to spend every meeting having these little dribs and drabs of transportation, we’re going to be here until we’re a hundred years old,” said Tom Burrows, to applause from several other members.

The city reps contested that many locals do care about the details of certain stretches of road, and that taking on smaller stretches allows more attention to detail. Plus, a community-spanning plan would take years to formulate and approve, they said.

Activists said the plan is a much-needed step in the right direction, and that it makes sense to address a particularly dangerous area right away instead of waiting for a larger plan.

“I think it makes sense to get the safety fixes on the ground that we need now before more people get hurt,” said Becca Kaplan of the Brooklyn chapter of Transportation Alternatives.

Community Board 1’s transportation committee will vote on the plan at its next meeting, before it goes before the full board.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I was SHOCKED when some members of the Community Board (rightly) complained that DOT completely failed to include anything to keep people on bikes safe.

If you read the DOT presentation, they show nearly as many bike injuries as pedestrian injuries. Then DOT ignored it. They claimed that they didn't know how bike infrastructure would fit into a larger network. So? They added parking for cars. They don't have a parking plan either.

To be scolded by the typically reactionary Community Board on this topic should be extremely embarrassing to DOT.
Jan. 13, 2016, 3:33 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I won't be surprised if some of those pedestrian and bicycle deaths involved them not following the rules of the road. Also, that might be the case as shown in the picture above. Honestly, I don't see how redesigning an intersection will make it better when it will most likely lead to creating more traffic than there is already. Still, I don't see why fixing the timing of the signal lights and enforcing the laws on cyclists and pedestrians can't be done seeing that this will cost a lot less than redesigning the intersection.
Jan. 13, 2016, 4:03 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Southside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
Any changes in any intersection will lead to major conflict of interest between the certain transportation groups, such as the bicyclists, the commuters, the drivers, the pedestrians and the truckers.
Jan. 13, 2016, 6:19 pm
Albert from East Williamsburg says:
I believe that Metropolitan Ave. is a truck route - the main truck route from Maspeth to the BQE.
Jan. 13, 2016, 8:56 pm
sandy from greenpoint says:
For starters, if they would just paint a few lines at the Union/Meeker intersections, the left turn arrows, double yellow lines on Union, crossing grid, intersection markers, that would be a good start.

As it is, there is nothing and it is a sh*t show for pedestrians, cars and cyclists.
Jan. 14, 2016, 3:03 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Obviously, skate board lanes are needed.
Jan. 15, 2016, 1:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In reality, I don't see how traffic calming really helps when it comes to safety when it just creates traffic where there was hardly any before. At the same time, pedestrians and cyclists are actually breaking more laws in such areas rather than following them despite giving motorists a hard time. Overall, if you want safe streets, then all groups need to follow the traffic laws, not just one only, and using statistics to claim that one isn't that dangerous isn't a reason for not enforcing the laws on them either. For the most part, many just see Vision Zero as punishing only one group while treating the others as if they will just mostly get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Seriously, I'm just getting tired of fanatical groups such as Transportation Alternatives calling to redesign streets for the few who just can't simply follow the rules themselves. The only reason why they will probably never support fixing the timing of signal lights for both vehicles and pedestrians is mainly because it will make the whole idea of traffic calming to be obsolete and unnecessary.
Jan. 16, 2016, 3:53 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Does horseback qualify for the bike lane or do we need another one for that?
Jan. 17, 2016, 12:17 am

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