Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Small signs, Big Changes

Cobble Hill is privilege to some minor tweaks that could have big impacts on quality of life citywide. First, have you noticed the orange decals popping up on our streets? There's one on Henry Street and one on a Congress street manhole cover spotted recently. They're part of a pilot program that makes it much easier to know a problem has already been reported to 311 and is being remedied.

'When a customer calls 311 to report a condition for repair, a City inspector will visit the site and determine the necessary next steps.  For many issues, private companies, utilities or other City agencies may be required to respond which may influence the duration of repair.  City inspectors will affix a small, bright orange decal adjacent to the site.  For issues that are repaired immediately, no decal will be used.'

If it works well in our neighborhood, perhaps it will speed up the 311 system and simplify confusion.
More info is available on this downloadable flyer.

Another change to our streets is already proving successful at taming traffic: Neckdowns.

Also known as bulb outs, or sidewalk extensions, these subtle changes to the streetscape create a visual road narrowing that makes drivers slow down while making turns or passing through intersections (which is where the overwhelming majority of accidents happen).  Now some drivers may not enjoy a pinch point in the road preventing their speeding, but NYC is walking city where the majority does not own a car, yet traffic "accidents" are sky high. And those who do drive, are also pedestrians after they park, so they too will benefit from the shorter crosswalk and slower vehicle traffic.

While our neighbors in Boerum Hill received an enormous neckdown last year, which will soon house an art instalation and slew of bike racks, many corners in Cobble Hill have had similar facelifts. Over the past few months the safety enchancement was given to northwest corner of Hicks & Union, the southeast corner of Henry and Atlantic, and most recently both southern corners of Clinton and Atlantic. Hundres of pedestrians and cyclists cross that intersection every morning and now they will all move a little safer. Thank you Department of Transportation's new Street Design Manual!

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