The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Pinch of Sanity on the Flabenue

In a long, long overdue move, DOT finally painted the lines and connected the dots. A tiny bit of sanity has come to the most painfully confused, dangerous and absurd stretches of commercial real estate that this blogger has ever seen - Flatbush Empire to the Junction.

Finally admitting that there is not room for parking on both sides and four lanes of traffic. the lanes have been repainted to allow for a single thru lane each way, and turning bays wherever needed. Yes, I'll admit that there was a bit of backup today...but it won't last, and here's why. Drivers were beginning to adjust, and as they did, they realized that they could no longer abide double-parkers. The few that tried it were either ticketed by police (a first...I've never seen a car ticketed for double-parking while the driver was in it before - a warning it looked like) or honked into compliance. The concerns about double-parking are genuine...but it is now impossible to double-park and not cause big disruptions. For instance, in front of Peppa's the usual doubles moved along after realizing there was no place for them.

But traffic DID move. I've seen much worse jams due to double-parkers in the past. And this was just the first day.

With any hope, the cops will strictly enforce the new laws, at least until behavior changes. The real test will be seeing whether the Dollar Vans stick to the thru lane and pull over only when and where there's room. Dollar Van riders (myself included) need to be skooled to hail only where there's a space for the Van. So as much as the drivers themselves are crazy, stepping out into traffic to grab a DV is just as zany, or insisting that they pull over in a crowded area with zooming traffic. Nuts has become the accepted normal around here.

A little less insanity would be good for everyone. (Except the very insane of course, for whom a LOT less insanity would be called for - or not I suppose, as long as you're not hurting anyone.)


28 comments:

Alex said...

Up here at Lincoln/Flatbush it's chaos because the overhaul of the intersection is partial. They've shrunk the lanes but not posted signs prohibiting left turns onto Washington from Lincoln. I really hope they remedy quickly because right now the crosswalks lead you directly into the line of oncoming cars as opposed to as area protected from traffic.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what good this is going to do or what relief you saw because it's a cluster fuck of traffic up by empire and all the way to Hawthorne or further! No body knows what they're doing and at one point there were 3 lanes of traffic headed southbound on Flatbush at around 5 pm. Didn't see any signs announcing new traffic patterns or anyone enforcing it.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

What "signs" do you need? The information is all on the road in gigantic markings.

Interesting you said it's a "cluster fuck" today as if that's something new.

Plenty of people figured it out. I watched at four distinct moments over the rush and never did I see the traffic stop completely. They've been announcing changes for months, and cops were at every third intersection, so I have no idea what you're talking about. Saw at least half a dozen people pulled over. Plus the point of the Community Council meeting tonight was to discuss the changes.

Alex is right they need something VERY clear at Washington/Lincoln. But it's gonna work, I guarantee it. Best of all, the Dollar Vans had nowhere to go to speed, unless they want to gun it through turn lanes. THAT's the big if.

See something crazy say so here and I'll be sure they read it at the 71.

Very exciting.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Plus your statement that there were three southbound lanes on Flatbush is horseshit. There only ever were two and the parked cars make it impossible. I saw one, and yeah, people were having trouble figuring out when to get in the turn bays, but they'll figure it out. I bet 80% of the drivers use this route every single day.

Alex said...

Hey Tim, despite the above commenter's annoying tone, it's true that drivers formed 3 southbound lanes - one in the yellow no driving zone, one in the proper southbound lane and one in the turn lane (and they weren't turning). I think it'll work itself out but DOT needs to add ballards where possible to keep people out from lanes they are not supposed to be in, and once the intersection is finished they need to enforce up at Lincoln/Flatbush. The 1/2 implemented situation is pretty sketchy if you're a pedestrian.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

'ight. Can't see how that's possible with the parked cars, but maybe at the intersections...

This morning was great. And yes, there are more lanes northbound. It was designed that way, with NO STANDING between 7 and 10 am. They felt they couldn't do the NO STANDING during the evening rush because businesses are open.

Alex said...

Yes, there was an immediate bottleneck once traffic passed Lincoln - you know, cars heading head on into cars in the left turn lane, running up against parked cars, etc. Was not good! Anyways, if the opportunity arises, it would be great to emphasize that they need to finish the intersection ASAP. The current state is unnerving and we're lucky that no one has been hit by a car. I repeat, though - I am very excited about the changes and I think the new patterns are great.

Hoosier said...

I was skeptical at first, but these changes are really for the better.

I drive every day for work so these changes you would think penalize me. The opposite I say.

Here's how I view it, say on Flatbush before if you had 2 lanes in one direction and one of the lanes was slower moving (due to double parking or behind a truck).
What would frustrate me is if I was in the slower lane and saw other cars zipping by, you feel compelled to switch lanes and not miss out. So I switch lanes. This is stressful and not always safe but it's bad habits born over the years.

Now everyone is essentially single-file. There is no getting agitated seeing someone else zip by in the lane next to you. Less stress and most important safer.

The key as mentioned above is to enforce the no double parking.

diak said...

I see no reason to expect the dollar vans to follow the new rules any more than they followed the old rules. If anything. I expect them to be frustrated by having fewer oppotunities to zig-zag down the avenue and resort to crazier and more reckless tactics to get that one extra fare or cut a minute or two off their trip...

I'm also concerned that these yellow-painted areas are going to become islands of pedestrians stranded in mid-jaywalk (similar to what we have now between the Wendy's and the subway station)...

Still, a "pinch of sanity" is better than the chaos we've had for years.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday on 2 separate occasions I saw dollar vans trying to overtake vehicles by cutting inside only to pull back in to their lane when they realized they were about to crash into opposite lane vehicles! INSANE !!

Other than that everyone else seem to follow the new format and seemed pretty chill about it, seriously I fear those dollar vans, they have a death wish and do not care about anyone else!!

Anonymous said...

5:30 pm, southbound traffic at a standstill all the way to Grand Army Plaza. Now we have a one lane parking lot on Flatbush. Great!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh ye of little faith! So easily disgruntled! The first traffic jam on Flatbush EVER has set the whole project back! (never mind the accident...)

Anonymous said...

Great- took me 45 minutes to get from GAP to Parkside. $ vans going straight down the middle.
Unless the cops are out ticketing until people get the hint it is not for the better

Anonymous said...

I am a huge proponent of these changes. Anybody that drives a car in this city should be shot. Are you too lazy to take the subway or the bus or whatever means of mass transport is available to you?

I am so sick and tired of excuses like "I need a car for work", BULL!! Keep polluting the air and supporting big oil why don't you, but I think every single road throughout the country should be a single lane of traffic. I want traffic to snarl to epic proportions so finally you polluters wake up, get out of your cars and walk!! You are so lazy and probably really fat!! The walking will do you some good.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

A HA! I knew you radical environmentalists were bodymassist! Caught you calling drivers fat! Ever seen half the people on the bus?

Seriously, though, pipe down. The idea is to get traffic moving calmly and smartly, not prevent people from getting where they're going. And by the way I bike and ride public transportation everywhere and I STILL can't lose that extra 20 pounds.

Just texted Vinnie at the 71 and they're "giving it a few days" to let drivers figure it out - warnings only. Frankly all they have to do is troll and get the few surviving double parkers to scram. In the meantime, I'm gonna find the email of that DOT dude who did the study and tell him to get the know left turn on Washington from Lincoln sign up fast. Someone's gonna go head on into a bike, pedestrian or car. What an oversight...

Anonymous said...

Unless the dollar vans are banned I just don't see this working. They don't follow the traffic laws and from what I've seen the past 2 days, they have no issue weaving around the single lane even if it means heading directly into oncoming traffic! Also since they stop whenever and wherever they please, cars will be stopping short or worse hitting into them because , and you would know this if you ever drive behind one of these menaces, they give no warning when they stop. Oh and when they stop, now everyone else now has to stop too, creating more traffic hold ups.

And as for double Parking being eliminated now, who are we kidding? Three cars double parked in front of Thriftway this evening caused major back ups as did all the UPS and FEDex trucks. Because when UPS delivers say to Patio Gardens, where's the truck going to sit. Double parked on Flatbush of course. And then what?

And when Flatbush finally opens to two lanes from EMPIRE headed north, everyone is now anxiously weaving in and out trying to make up for loss time, until they hit the next awful, unaddressed traffic mess, the bottleneck caused by the ridiculously short green light at Grand army plaza.

And so maybe those of you who don't drive this road for work or school every single day don't see an issue with the slow single file travel, and maybe at a glance from your bike it looks neat and orderly, but for everyone driving in it, it sucks! IMO a better solution would've been to ban those dollar vans or make an exclusive HOV and bus lane for the B41 to keep traffic flowing, not keep it idling and adding to the pollution.

Dont Drive At Rush Hour said...

Cry me a river. You may be one of the only people who actually have to drive down this particular stretch of road every single day, but the vast majority don't. They'll find another route. The only reason people take Flatbush at all is because they think it's faster than the alternatives. But unless it slows a bit and gets more orderly, it will always be dangerous and crazy with the buses and vans and cabs and car services and people like you who claim they have no other way to get around but take Flatbush and make life miserable for the thousands of pedestrians and commuters who have to put up with your insanity. If you need someone to map out a nice alternative to your daily drive they've got an app for that. If the half of people who don't need to drive gave it up the people who actually have no alternative would have plenty of room.

Give it a couple weeks and you'll forget it was ever different. People who drive in this city are nuts to begin with. Take away half a lane from them and they flip out. It's pathetic. The city isn't getting less populous and the roads aren't getting any wider. This road has always been a mess.


Alex said...

Tim, when you talk to dot it would be great if you could also stress the need for bollards to keep cars out of the new extended gas station/ sidewalk area that would be great. It's current dual role as sidewalk and road is no good! Thanks for your coverage of all this.

Anonymous said...

Don't drive at rush hour, please change your name to a-hole! Of course there are other ways out of the hood- Washington, Bedford, Rogers, or Even Parkside all of which are tied up in the same way as Flatbush! If course morons like you just assume that everyone has the ability to bike or walk or even take the subway but I've got news for you- some people work or go to school where a car is the only way to get there. Wish we could all have it as simple as you! Oh and the same could be said of people who bike in this city- this ain't holland folks despite our Dutch roots!

Anonymous said...

Who's the A-hole now, douchebag? DDARH said if you HAVE to drive, then fine. If it was only people like you we'd be fine. But it's not. That's why congestion pricing was a great idea, killed by upstate rednecks. You got a student excuse? Exception. You got a job that requires a car? Exception. You got a desire to stop buses and taxis from getting where they're going by your need to listen to Howard Stern? No exception. Pay for the privilege.

As the price of metrocards keeping skyrocketing, a regressive tax on the poor, the most vulnerable citizens continue to subsidize your use of expensive roads.

Like I said, driving is a right next to guns in this country. But don't take us all down with you. Oh, and don't get me started about New Yorkers assertion that they have a right to onstreet parking. If you get a ten by four piece of real estate every night, then where's mine? Unbelievable what people will do to hang on to their miserable selfish perks.

Anonymous said...

You know, most dollar can drivers are safe, respectable drivers. Please stop talking junk about an entire profession. There are some who are awful drivers, but it's not the majority. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is meant for all of those folks who ignorantly bash ALL dollar van drivers. It's insulting.

Joyce David said...

I'm at Flatbush and Hawthorne and it was easier crossing Flatbush, because of the Hawthorne turning lane and the yellow stripes creating a safe island in the middle.

Joyce David, Attorney at Law said...

Actually you re wrong about driving being a right. In New York, driving is a privilege, NOT a right.

Anonymous said...

I'm generally in favor of the design of the changes, but after having driven down Flatbush from GAP the last two days it's clear that more is off than just missing signage. It doesn't really matter what lines are on the road when car after car (most often the dollar vans) just completely ignore them. I just waited in line to get to the turn bay so I could turn left on Lefferts from Flatbush and 6 dollar vans drove through the dashed yellow lines then cut back into traffic while I was waiting. Other cars followed their lead. Further up I noticed two dollar vans go into oncoming traffic to move ahead a car or two. The chaos this creates is insane; it really backs up the traffic on Lefferts going both directions and on that section of Washington right next to BP. I haven't traveled further south than Lincoln, so don't know what it's like down there, but around Lefferts and Lincoln it's pretty bad. Again, I like the design choices, but without steady enforcement it's going to be a mess. They need to have multiple cops posted at those intersection as people figure it out. Without that, they would need to create some sort of dividing median to keep people in their lanes.

Also, the DOT really needs to build up that little island at Lincoln/Washington/Flatbush because right now it's a deathtrap. Other than

Anonymous said...

I want to lodge an official complaint about the dollar vans, just got to figure out best place to do this so if anyone knows where this could be most effective please give me the 411

Anonymous said...

To Anon Nov 23 2:36 - The point that is significant is NOT that ALL DV drivers are the problem, it is that DV driver are a large % of the problem drivers.

It is irrefutable that the number of car-miles driven and the number of drivers is the core issue,however it is the minority % of drivers who operate selfishly and dangerously that create much of the congestion and risk to pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers.

The re-design on the traffic flow is the fundamental improvement on which any evolution must be based. I cite enforcement as the nest key piece of this puzzle. Ticket the violators, check their registration and inspection. I know a few cars in the nabe who share license plates & licenses to dodge registration fees, insurance and license suspension. Get these guys off the streets. Nail the speeders on Rogers Avenue.

The next step is improved drivers' education classes in the West Indies and end reciprocity. Being licensed driver in a Caribbean city,a rural island community or a desolate ranch in Arizona does not equip a driver for NYC!

diak said...

It is encouraging to finally hear voices raised in response to the lawless driving behavior of the dollar vans (OK, OK, most all of the dollar vans). At the same time, experience tells me nothing will change until we witness a horrific incident with a high body count. Then authorities will be shocked—even shocked and dismayed—to "discover" that there was ever a problem.

Wouldn't it be great if for once the promise of better protection wasn't made at a funeral?