Saturday, June 03, 2006

Danes and Death-O-Meters at Grand Army Plaza

There's a new effort to try to tame the Brooklyn no-man's land known as Grand Army Plaza. Perhaps, at some point, you've noticed the wonderfully restored fountain behind Brooklyn’s Arc de Triomphe? Or, maybe, you haven't, because few people bother trying to cross GAP on foot to get there. Well, the Prospect Park Alliance spent $2 million to restore the fountain, and now they’re joining up with the Grand Army Plaza Coalition to try to find ways to allow the people to cross GAP without becoming one with a car.

The Plaza was designed in 1867 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as an entrance to Prospect Park rather than an insane traffic oval. But pedestrian death and Grand Army Plaza have been like hand and glove ever since cars came on the scene. Starting in the 1920s, Grand Army Plaza had a Death-O-Meter that reported pedestrian fatalities on the Plaza and in Brooklyn.

The Grand Army Plaza Coalition held a press conference Friday announcing that it's hiring Jan Gehl, an “urban quality consultant” from Copenhagen to figure out how to redesign Grand Army Plaza so that you don’t meet your maker trying to look at that fountain. Among the things Mr. Gehl wants to look into are tunnels, low-speed areas, having traffic flow around an "outer ring" and revisiting a 1987 plan to increase pedestrian access that was shelved for lack of money.

In the meantime, how about bringing back the Death-O-Meter and adding some flavor to the Saturday morning GAP Greenmarket?


Blogger Lasse said...

A death-o-meter would be quiet interesting! Unfortunatly I don't think cardrivers care?
Jan Gehl is a great guy - and I am happy to hear that NY has hired him! His book "Life Between Buildings" is exelent reading - into what planning should be all about - People! He has done extensive studies in Copenhagen for years. Last summer was the biggest yet with -I believe it was up to 300 people helping out, mesuring, counting and noting how people use the outdoor city spaces.

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