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Transportation & Travel

EXCLUSIVE: Are new traffic-calming installations doing the job?

Traffic-calming installations installed earlier this month at problematic left turn locations in southwest Brooklyn are already showing wear and tear.

Known as delineators, the striped plastic barricades have gone up in the past couple of weeks, courtesy of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), on Bay Ridge Parkway at Fort Hamilton Parkway, heading into Bay Ridge, at an intersection where left turns have long been prohibited; as well as on 65th Street at 17th Avenue, heading toward the lower numbered streets; and on Bath Avenue, at 19th Avenue, near the 62nd Precinct; and 21st and Bath Avenues.

They are apparently not faring too well. Already, two prongs are missing from the one at Bay Ridge Parkway and Fort Hamilton Parkway, and several are gone from the installation at 65th Street and 17th Avenue, as this reporter observed (and as captured in photos accompanying this article).

“Based on the condition of the delineators, it clearly appears that cars are hitting them,” noted Marni Elias-Pavia, the district manager of Community Board 11, who said that the installations on Bath Avenue also are showing damage, with several prongs already missing. The installation at 17th Avenue and 65th Street is also in the board’s catchment area.

“I don’t understand DOT,” she added. “It would be easy to communicate the locations and reasoning but we haven’t had that communication. I’m sure we will get some complaints.”

In fact, the board has received no information at all from DOT with respect to the delineators, either before or after they were installed, which makes no sense to Elias-Pavia.

“Anything to prevent injuries or crashes at locations is a plus,” she stressed, “but not knowing the locations, we don’t know how plows or buses are going to deal with them.”

The delineators at 17th Avenue and 65th Street.
The delineators at 17th Avenue and 65th Street.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, whose catchment area includes the installation at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Bay Ridge Parkway, also said that the board had not been notified of the addition of the delineators, or asked to comment in advance. “We were not aware it was being installed,” she told this paper.

That two of the prongs are gone already, she added, “certainly demonstrates the turning movements there,” despite the prohibition on left turns.

The intersection, she added, was designated a “high-crash location a number of years ago. There has been more than one pedestrian fatality there in the last 10 years. I remember two vividly. The intention is for safety but the intersection should be looked at if we’ve lost two.”

An earlier installation of delineators, dating to 2016, nearby at Bay Ridge Parkway and Seventh Avenue, another problematic location, has fared better, with none of the prongs missing as of this writing.

According to the DOT, the delineators are an outgrowth of the city’s Vision Zero initiative.  

“As part of [it],” an agency spokesperson said, “DOT created the Left Turn Traffic Calming program where we install safety treatments at high left turn injury locations citywide. The materials used for these treatments are designed to be mountable to help facilitate large vehicle operations and require regular maintenance. DOT performs scheduled repairs at each location citywide.”

As to the current condition of the delineators, the spokesperson said, “Motorists often take time to adjust to the new changes.”

A 2016 Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Study conducted by the city found that, “Between 2010 and 2014, 108 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by left turning vehicles (out of 859 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities 2010-2014).”

According to the report on the study, “Left turns are more dangerous than right turns” because “left turns can be taken at a wider radius, which leads to higher speeds and greater pedestrian exposure,” as well as limited visibility on the part of the driver, and the increased difficulty of making a left turn potentially across oncoming traffic.

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