Pedestrians on Prospect Park West will be getting their own island(s).
On April 23, the Department of Transportation will begin installing raised pedestrian islands at nine intersections along the Prospect Park West bike lane, with a couple islands at each intersection for a total of 14.
The raised concrete islands, which will be located in the floating parking lane west of the bike lane at the intersections at Carroll Street, Garfield Place, First Street, Third Street, Fifth Street, Seventh Street, Ninth Street, Eleventh Street and Fourteenth Street, are meant to enhance pedestrian safety, improve pedestrian crossings and add street trees—all while maintaining the current roadway configuration.
Another change will be that the pedestrian signals will be relocated from the east sidewalk (the park side) to the pedestrian islands.
Last April, Community Board 6 unanimously approved the design for the islands.
Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6 said that new additions are a “necessary component of a plan” that would help “improve pedestrian safety further.”
Hammerman said that an issue that delayed the installation of the islands was aesthetics, specifically concerning historical land marking. The east side of Prospect Park West is the Park Slope Historic District and the west side of the street is the Prospect Park Historic District.
“We thought the islands themselves needed to be made of compatible materials that we expect to find within historic districts,” Hammerman said, explaining that the islands’ curbs will be made out of granite to match the rest of the street. “Here, quite literally was granite curbs.”
Hammerman said that DOT needed to check their budget to make sure they hand the funds for the expensive stone and then had to order the custom materials.
“It’s not something they could pull off the shelf,” Hammerman said.
But, another reason the islands were not installed with the bike lane was so they could first see the impact the “painted lines” would have, Hammerman said, explaining that the bike lane changed the street’s configuration and they wanted to take one step at a time.
However, the islands will not change Prospect Park West’s configuration, and will only make the space already allotted to pedestrians at the intersections safer.
“The pedestrian islands will be a safe haven, a safe refuge, for pedestrians to cross to and from the park. It will be a safe space to stand on and see on-coming traffic,” Hammerman said. He explained that pedestrians on the islands will be elevated—giving them enhanced sightlines so they can see bicycle traffic coming from both directions and vehicular traffic flowing southbound.
A bicycle advocate and the founder of Park Slope Neighbors, Eric McClure, is also excited about the changes coming to the street.
“The islands will improve safety by keeping cars and ice cream trucks from parking in pedestrian areas, improving visibility for both pedestrians and cyclists,” McClure said, explaining that the islands will also create a “grade separation” between pedestrians and cyclists.
But, he also said that the installation signals the end of the opposed to the bike lane’s staying power, .
“Just as importantly, the installation of the pedestrian islands will mark the final stage in the creation of what I believe is New York City's best complete-street project—frivolous not withstanding,” McClure said. “There's no doubt in my mind that the in favor of the PPW redesign, and the so-called "Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes" and "Seniors for Safety" should live up to their names, drop their appeal now, and save the taxpayers from having to waste any more time and money defending a widely popular bike path that's clearly made Prospect Park West safer for everyone.”
A spokeswoman for NBBL and SFS, represented by attorney Jim Walden, said that both groups and Walden do not have a comment at this moment.
A spokesman for Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Park Slope), , said that the pedestrian islands are good all around.
"The installation of historically-appropriate pedestrian islands will make Prospect Park West safer for everybody, especially pedestrians crossing the street,” the spokesman said. “The design matches the sidewalk next to the park, down to the granite-faced curbs, and I am pleased that DOT worked closely with Community Board 6 to find a design that increases safety and matches the aesthetics of Brooklyn's best park.”