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A Safer 4th Avenue for Kids

November 30, 2012

Now that the new school rezoning maps have been approved for Park Slope, many parents are understandably concerned with classroom sizes, teacher quality, and, other issues related to their kids’ education.  And even though most of the schools in the neighborhood are of an amazingly high quality, there’s also the not so insignificant issue of people who bought pricey homes and apartments in the coveted PS 321 district years ago only to find themselves zoned out as of Wednesday.

While these are all valid concerns, Councilman Brad Lander, writing on Park Slope Patch, brings up an issue of perhaps greater importance.   PS 133 and the new school to be formed in the St. Thomas Aquinas Building are located on the very busy and very dangerous 4th Avenue, where I happen to live:

One concern that came up at last night’s vote was pedestrian safety on 4th Avenue, where both new schools are located (and existing PS 124 is as well). The strip has long been a safety concern, and I have been working with the Department of Transportation, Borough President Markowitz, Community Boards 6 and 7, the Park Slope Civic Council’s Forth on Fourth Committee to bring traffic calming, larger medians, countdown clocks, the left-turn arrow at 9th Street, and other improvements to 4th Avenue.

My immediate recommendations would be for bulb-outs at all corners next to and across the street from both of these buildings in order to slow down turning drivers as they transition from the 4th Avenue speedway to the smaller side streets.  Extending the curbs at these intersections would also make it difficult for drivers, including the many tow truck drivers who work in the area, to park in crosswalks.  Raised crosswalks might also be a good idea, at least across the side streets, although I understand that snow removal and street cleaning means these can’t be placed just anywhere.  Wider painted medians with plastic delineator poles, as have been installed in Sunset Park, also need to be put in on 4th before these schools open their doors.

As Brad notes in his post, “DOT is planning a public meeting early next year for you to give input on what kind of improvements you would like to see on 4th Avenue going forward.”  Stay tuned for more information about this public meeting.

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