Someone needed to fix the five-spoke intersection where Washington, Underhill, and Atlantic Avenues all meet. With eight lanes of roaring traffic, Atlantic was nearly impossible to cross on foot. From 2000 to 2010, over 40 pedestrians and cyclists were struck there. That decade, the median was so dangerous that cars crashed into and knocked down the stoplight, not once but twice.
This was a life-safety problem more than a design problem, but we took it on as a pro bono cause. First, since we’re architects, we drew up a proposed solution. In our plan, curb extensions would shorten the crosswalks, and bollards would protect the medians (and any pedestrians caught mid-way next to those ill-fated stoplights). Next, we started a petition, enlisted the block association and the community board, wrote letters and newspaper articles, and petitioned local officials. And finally, we partnered with the DOT to effect a change.
The results have been dramatic. The DOT went above and beyond our proposals. They also widened the median, increased crosswalk times, installed countdown clocks, eliminated turns, planted traffic-calming trees, and added bike lanes. Now, Atlantic is still a major artery, but crossing at Washington is no problem.