4/22/02: Heat Wave
Spring and autumn
used to be my favorite seasons in New York City. I use the past tense
because we don't seem to have those two seasons anymore. This year we
skipped directly from winter to summer in a matter of ten days. Is
it just me, or is anyone else noticing this?
clinton street autos
honk, guzzle and burn away
our crisp, clean spring days
It's a bit freaky. On Saturday, April 6 my girlfriend and I went up to
Central Park to shoot some video of World Tai Chi Day for a project we're
working on. It snowed! It was absolutely freezing. Joanne
ended up getting a cold the next day because neither of us had really
been prepared for weather like that. Ten days later, Tuesday, April 16,
the thermometer hit 96 degrees and the air was stagnant with exhaust and
pollen. Actually, the pollen situation was kind of weird as well. I don't
have allergies so it's not such a big deal for me, but I don't recall
ever seeing quite so much pollen fall so quickly. It's piled up in big
heaps along the curbs on Clinton Street. Parked cars were coated so heavily
in the stuff that I could walk down the street finger-writing messages
like "Tree Sex" and "Plant Sperm" on the windshields of my neighbor's
Learn to ride a bike.
Your honking, spewing auto's
turning spring to summer
Needless to say, when the weather gets as hot as it did on Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday, the
motorists of downtown Brooklyn go completely bat shit. Same as last
week, I heard two more guys blast their horns at each other, screech their
cars to a stop, get out and start yelling at each other at the intersection
of Clinton and Pacific in the middle of the day.
quiet neighborhood corner,
or a boxing ring?
The screwed up thing about this is that during the morning and afternoon
this part of Clinton Street is a pretty major thoroughfare for moms, dads,
kids and elderly folks on their way to work, school, the subway, wherever.
It's not a great spot for a
couple of sweaty alpha males hop out of their cars and start swinging.
It's as though drivers, ensconced in their cockpit of personal private
space, completely forget that their cars are moving through a community's
vital public space.
jump out of their cars to fight
moms walk by with kids
Amazingly, our efforts to do something about this are actually paying
off. On Thursday and Friday of last week, Captain Harris and Traffic Safety
Sergeant Frias at the
76th precinct posted a gang of police officers under the No Honking
sign on Clinton and Pacific to hand out fliers and tickets. There were
the two quietest mornings we've had on Clinton Street in a long, long
time. I really appreciate the precinct's efforts to help us out. It'll
be interesting to see whether a sustained effort to hand out tickets and
fliers will have any long term effect.
I also attended a meeting at Borough Hall of the Downtown
Brooklyn Traffic Calming Project. This project has been going on for
about two years now and is nearing some conclusions and final recommendations
to install various "traffic calming" devices in different parts of Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, there are no plans on the drawing board to re-time and
better coordinate the rush hour traffic signals on Clinton Street south
of Atlantic Avenue. The traffic lights are so obviously discombobulated
on Clinton Street, it amazes me that this has not made it into the overall
Traffic Calming plan. I'm talking with Community Board 6, the Department
of Transportation, Councilman DeBlasio's office, and traffic engineers
Ove Arup to see if we can get something done about these lights. I have
a feeling that a few simple changes in light timing on Clinton Street
on both sides of Atlantic Ave. could solve a lot of our problems here.
I'm hoping to get a hold of the DOT's traffic flow computer model to test
out some different scenarios.
So, as long as the city has a budget - which
isn't much longer apparently -- we can ask cops to enforce the No
Honking sign and futz around with the timing of traffic signals. But the
bottom line is that we're going to need more radical solutions to really
solve our transportation and traffic problems. Tolls
on the East River bridges is one good idea I've heard recently. Better
bike lanes and a
car-free Prospect Park is another good idea. Enforced car-pooling
and new ferry services are also good. Not to get too didactic and all,
but at some point soon, we're going to have to face up to the fact that
our car-centric, cheap-oil-burning, way of life is costing
us a lot and in lots of different ways.
hot, angry, selfish
drivers. microcosm of
the planet's problems