Hicks Street turns a corner

Hicks Street turns a corner

Thanks to sustained community leadership, Hicks Street is finally a bit safer. What has been a dangerous and disruptive speedway is now a few steps closer to being a safe and neighborhood-friendly street for Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.

The NYC Department of Transportation recently extended the sidewalks at many corners along northbound Hicks Street with painted pavement, bollards, and planters to protect pedestrians from traffic. The larger pedestrian space means that you will only have to cross two lanes of traffic rather than three, and bolstered visibility for drivers and pedestrians alike. In addition, the rush hour parking restrictions on the east side of Hicks Street have now been lifted. This will reduce speeding along the corridor, not to mention the great side-benefit of about 100 additional parking spots in the neighborhood.

Lander and residents at the new safer corners

These changes came about through long-term advocacy by neighborhood activists. Making it safer and easier to cross Hicks Street was a primary goal of the “Fix the Ditch” planning process in 2010, initiated by the Cobble Hill Association (and funded by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, with strong support from Community Board 6 and NYC EDC). Community leaders including Dave ‘Paco’ Abraham, Roy Sloane, and Rebecca Katz kept the pressure up. Participatory budgeting delegates put Hicks Street pedestrian safety on the 2013 ballot. My office was pleased to work closely with all of them and to coordinate with NYC DOT as they developed, presented, got community feedback on, and implemented these safety improvements (special thanks to DOT’s Chris Hrones and Josh Benson).

These are good steps forward, but there is still much work to be done. Right now it is dangerous for pedestrians to cross from the east side of Hicks Street because the BQE fence obscures visibility. We have asked New York State DOT to work with us to fix this fence and improve safety for everyone. The longer-term plans set out in the “Fix the Ditch” (aka BQE Enhancement Study) are ambitious ones that will take much greater levels of community organizing and public resources, but would deliver great benefits. And there is also much to do over on Columbia Street to make that corridor safer and advance the Brooklyn Greenway. If you’re interested in being involved in traffic safety work in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, let us know. We’ll put you in touch with other community residents working on these issues.

While traffic safety has improved dramatically around NYC in recent years, there are still far too many dangerous streets and pedestrian deaths.

Recently, one of our neighbors in Kensington, Ngozi Agbim, was killed in a tragic crash at the intersection of Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue. Like with Hicks Street, I have been advocating with neighborhood residents for street safety improvements at that intersection for years. Our community made its voice heard, loud and clear, by turning out to vote in last year’s participatory budgeting election and allocating $200,000 for installation of a pedestrian median there. Unfortunately, the New York State Department of Transportation is standing in the way of safety improvements for this intersection.

Please show your support for safer streets for all New Yorkers, including our neighbors living near Ocean Parkway. Sign our petition calling on New York State Department of Transportation to approve the safety plan for this dangerous intersection.

Thank you for your support for safer streets.

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