I had just ridden my bike down Parkside Avenue heading east from the glorious tennis bubbles and noticed what a calm and pleasant ride I'd just had, with even the confidence to look up at the progress at "123 on the Park" a/k/a the Caledonian Apartments. After crossing Ocean Ave, I felt I'd best dismount and walk the bike on the sidewalk; I was feeling way exposed to all manner of vehicles, and then, despite making the safer mode of movement, and while walking WITH the pedestrian light at Flatbush, I nearly got reamed by said bus and van. So what exactly changed from Parkside A to Parkside B? A lot actually. Both roadways were busy, but the vehicular temperature changed completely by the time I got to the 'Bush.
Turns out that the street width from curb to curb is roughly the same on Parkside as Flatbush. However, the newly painted traffic lanes on Parkside, Park Circle to Ocean, have just ONE lane of traffic in each direction. There is a narrow yellow checked "demilitarized zone" between the moving lanes. And the parking lane is wide enough to fit a truck (like the ever-present Olde Good Things rig, more on them here), with a clearly marked outside edge, which has the added benefit of making it less likely you'll open your door into a moving vehicle. Traffic moves smoothly along Parkside, in part because there's no temptation to try to cut in front of other cars. The merging in and out of lanes is part of the frustration drivers feel on Flatbush. Dollar Vans, whose income depends on speed of travel, are practically encouraged to create their own zigzag routes in the poorly designed traffic scheme.
I haven't taken a tape measure to it, but my foot is about a foot, so my best walked estimate is that DOT has tried to construct six lanes (four for driving, two for parking) on Flatbush with just 48 feet to work with. Below are the suggested widths of streets per Seattle's version of the DOT (I know, I know, but let's assume for a moment their experts know SOMETHING about traffic safety?) Here's what they use as standards:
|Lane Type||Standard Lane Width|
|Parking lane||8 feet|
|Parking lane on bus route||10 feet|
|Through traffic lane||11 feet|
|Curb lane||12 feet|
|Bus only lane||12 feet|
|Turn only lane||12 feet|
|Curb lane (vehicle/bicycle)||14 feet|
So basically, NYC's DOT is allowing six lanes with just 8 feet each, the absolute minimum standard for a PARKING lane according to the above. And we have buses, dollar vans, delivery bicycles, double-parkers, 18-wheelers... When the DOT finishes its traffic study this coming Spring, if there is no suggestion of limiting traffic to one lane each direction (allowing too for the inevitability of double-parkers along these commercial streets), I will go on hunger strike. *
Before another pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist is killed on this dastardly road, we need someone to take responsibility for safety on the Flabenue. An elected official? A public servant? A dedicated bureaucrat? Anyone?
*hunger strike to conclude only when the DOT sees the error of its ways, or one day after commencing, whichever comes first.