A previously dangerous intersection in Prospect Heights is receiving some much-needed re-engineering. The three-way crossing at Atlantic, Washington and Underhill avenues saw 16 injuries in 2014, making it one of the worst in Brooklyn. Residents have been lobbying for years to get the city to make improvements.
The city has installed larger pedestrian islands, which are concrete medians that protect walkers. Also included in the upgrades are new turn restrictions, new crosswalks and new sidewalks. Pedestrians now have more time to cross the streets.
A resident who spearheaded the campaign to improve safety at this crossing said, “It feels like night and day.” He was seriously injured at the intersection in 2013.
The station for the C train subway is across Atlantic Avenue, forcing the majority of residents on the border between Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights to cross the street.
There were six injuries at the intersection this year through July 31.
The area is growing, and a new school will be developed in the neighborhood. The City Council representative for the neighborhood, Laurie Cumbo, said that the school and the growth of the neighborhood make it important to get it right.
This is one of many street improvements designed to protect pedestrians, undertaken as a result of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Vision Zero. However, not all improvements can be credited to the current mayor. In 2009, the city pedestrianized Times Square to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The result has been a sharp decline in pedestrian-vehicle collisions in Times Square.
Despite this improvement, the mayor is looking at reopening the plaza, citing an increase in panhandling by topless women and costumed characters. A task force is expected to report on the possibility this fall.
Although the city appears to be trying to reduce injuries and fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists, it is hard to imagine that they will cease altogether. The city is just too dense.