Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Report

Over the past twenty plus years, Downtown Brooklyn has enjoyed a revitalization that has brought economic growth to this collection of dense, diverse urban neighborhoods. Coupled with regional travel growth, this revitalization has also brought increasing traffic impacts to these neighborhoods. The Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Study is an effort to mitigate those traffic impacts to ensure the area’s ongoing vitality, safety, accessibility, and mobility.

The Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project was conceived through the cooperative efforts of local elected officials and community groups, with additional support from the New York City administration. Most importantly, both the Downtown Brooklyn community and New York City administration see this project as signaling a new direction for managing traffic in the City. Thus, the project's goal is to make all types of streets function better for all users of the public space. The area includes the communities of Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights , Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens , Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Columbia Terrace, Brooklyn Heights , Fulton Landing, Downtown Brooklyn and Vinegar Hill.

The 2004 project report, described and available for download below, continues to serve as a living document that helps define how DOT and other stakeholders perceive and manage the Downtown Brooklyn Street Network.

The Report

The report is the result of a collaborative effort of community groups, elected officials, business associations and government agencies. It is the result of over five years of plans, discussions, interaction and consensus building.

The report discusses Travel Streets, Community Streets and Living Streets. Travel Streets provide critical transportation links and allow for movement, while also serving as destinations in their own right for commercial, cultural and institutional activities. Community Streets serve as “town centers” for neighborhoods and the Central Business District (CBD), by providing shopping, services, and entertainment and by acting as gathering places. In CBD areas, vehicle mobility may be more limited on community streets. Living Streets provide access to living or working spaces. Living Streets are the local, typically residential streets where quality of life is the primary concern. In some cases, living streets exclusively serve industrial or educational uses. Motor vehicles should have minimal impact on the local environment and quality of life and traffic volumes should below.

This report is provided in pdf format. Because of the size of the report document, it is divided into several parts which can be accessed by linking directly to each section as shown below. Please note that some of the drawings in the document are in 11x17 format rather than 8.5x11, so some clipping may occur. To address this problem, you can adjust your print screen to fit the page.

Part I is the Executive Summary, which provides an overview of the study from its initiation and includes information on project background, the community outreach process, the Street Management Framework, the pilot program, recommended strategies for streets and corridors and implementation issues.

Part II includes the Final Report's Introduction, Background, Traffic and Parking Issues, and discussion of Traffic Calming. The Introduction provides the structure for the project. The Background provides a background as to how the project was conceived, initiated and organized and discusses community concerns that led to the initiation of the project.  Part II also provides a description of the scope, objectives and organization and defines the study area, discusses traffic issues and provides information on travel patterns in the study area, and discusses traffic calming concepts and the role of traffic calming in a comprehensive transportation management program. Part II also discusses individual traffic calming treatments and their applicability to Downtown Brooklyn.

Part III provides the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Approach, which discusses the approach used to calm traffic in the study area and the Street Management Framework which provided a foundation for the study. Streets are designated as Travel Streets, Community Streets or Living Streets. A listing of streets in each category is provided below. Part III also describes the public outreach project and discusses how ideas and strategies were developed in consultation with project stakeholders.

Part IV provides the Pilot Program, including development, design, installation, monitoring and evaluation as well as the special signage program that was created for the pilot program. Part IV also describes how the pilot program treatments can be applied elsewhere and discusses lessons learned from the pilot Program.

The Action Program provides the core of the project – a traffic management strategy for the area.  It provides traffic management themes that were developed and utilized in developing the traffic management strategy. It includes sketches of proposed project recommendations. The detailed street and corridor recommendations are classified by their Street Management Framework designations.

Action Program

The Action Program is divided into two sections: Part V includes the Action Program’s traffic management themes and the action plans on the study area's travel streets.

Part VI includes the Action Program’s discussion of plans for the study area's community streets. Part VI also discusses other issues and provides information on project costs and a funding program for implementing the proposed improvements. The Implementation section discusses how to build on the project and advance the concepts learned to other area in the City.

Appendices

In addition to the Final Report, several of the report's appendices are provided below. If you would like information on these appendices, please contact the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner's office.

  • Appendix A1 - A PowerPoint presentation given at the outset of the study.
  • Appendix A2 discusses myths about traffic calming and outlines concepts regarding on how traffic calming treatments should be applied.
  • Appendix A3 provides information on ideas and visions for streets discussed in community Working Groups during the early stages of the study. These ideas were used in developing the Street Management Framework
  • Appendix B discusses the public outreach process including Task Force, Working Group and Technical Advisory Committee meetings and Open Houses.
  • Appendix C - Data compiled during the course of the study.
  • Appendix D details public comments received throughout the study process.
  • Appendix E - Technical memorandum on Traffic Calming measures (summarized in Chapter 4 of the Final Report)
  • Appendix F - provides Synchro analysis of proposed improvements
  • Appendix G1 - shows sign that were installed at pilot program locations. This project element is discussed in section 6.2.4.
  • Appendix G2 includes the questionnaires/survey instrument that was used to obtain public feedback on the pilot program Several additional appendices are not included here.
  • Appendix G3 - provides construction drawings of pilot program measures.

Implementation

During the course of the study and since its completion in 2004, DOT has implemented many of the recommendations from the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project's action program. Most of these have been operational improvements that could be achieved with existing DOT resources. Traffic Calming improvements in Downtown Brooklyn that have been implemented by DOT to date. Speed humps in Downtown Brooklyn that have been installed in the project area to date.

DOT has also been working with the City's Department of Design and Construction to make significant traffic calming capital improvements throughout downtown Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhood. These focus on measures that physically change the roadway in a way that calms traffic and benefits non-motorized users (See Capital Improvements below). Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Capital Construction Project locations.

Operational Improvements

Operational Improvements are relatively low-cost and can usually be implemented in a short time frame by DOT or its contractors.  Examples of these types of improvements include the following:

Traffic Signals

  • Signal Calming – Using signal timing adjustments to slow traffic to appropriate speeds
  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals – Providing 5-10 seconds of all-red time to allow pedestrians to establish themselves in the crosswalk ahead of turning vehicles
  • All Pedestrian Phase (Barnes Dance) – Providing a signal phase that gives all vehicles a red indication and allows pedestrians to cross in all directions without conflict

Parking Management

  • Elimination of Peak Hour Parking Restrictions – Maintains narrower travelway throughout the day on streets where capacity is not needed.
  • Angled Parking – decreases width of travelway on very wide streets

Pavement Markings

  • Bicycle Lanes – Promotes bicycle use and calms street by narrowing travelway
  • Painted Parking Buffer – Perceptually narrows roadway; separates moving and parked vehicles 

Capital Improvements

Capital improvements aim to calm traffic by reconfiguring the existing roadway geometry or introducing new physical elements. They are usually much more costly than operational improvements. Because DOT has limited in-house capacity to design and build capital projects, these improvements take longer to implement. These include the following measures: Pedestrian Neckdowns, which expand the sidewalk area and narrow the roadway, often at intersections, to slow turning vehicles and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Bus Bulbs, which extend the sidewalk for the full length of a bus stop, allowing bus to stop without leaving the stream of traffic and providing additional space for waiting passengers.