Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Trying to Divine the Park Slope Traffic Vote

You know that grassroots democracy has taken an odd turn when everyone is debating how a vote came about and what the outcome meant. You might even be tempted to call it a triumph of parliamentary maneuvering over clear results if you were in the mood to editorialize. And, you especially know it's bad when videos of the motion in question--the Community Board 6 Transportation Committee vote on the controversial proposal to make Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Park Slope one way--are posted on YouTube and people write headlines like "The Motion Carried, but What Does It Say?"

For those who'd person like to figure this out, here's the motion in question, as written:
Motion 1: CB6 thanks DOT for their efforts to improve pedestrian safety and facilitate the flow of traffic in and around Park Slope as dialogue and discussions are always beneficial; however, we request that DOT not proceed with their proposal to convert 6th and 7th Avenues from two-way to one-way streets at this time because there are too many questions about the impact of this change and how it would affect the neighborhood's traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

We further request that DOT continue to work with the Community Board and the Park Slope community in resolving Park Slope's very real traffic and pedestrian safety problems. For example, the perceived/actual high rate of speed of vehicles traveling on 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West, and the congested Union Street approach to the Grand Army Plaza . By working more closely with the Community Board and community we are committing to work with DOT to produce an improved set of remedies and actions designed to further enhance pedestrian safety and facilitate the safe movement of vehicles within our community.

Motion 2: CB6 would table making a recommendation on the 4th Avenue proposal until after such time as we have had a chance to engage DOT in a more comprehensive discussion of the traffic planning needs and challenges facing the Park Slope community.
In the words of the person that created the video, Kevin Burget of WideIris:
The proposer of the Motion did actually say "we ask that the DOT withrawal this proposal at this time; there are many questions, we want to get a lot of data". But when the meaning of the Motion was unclear to some who spoke up in the house, the Meeting Chair recapped by saying the Motion "is basically, to withdraw this proposal for 6th & 7th". This clarification met with huge applause in the end, as people did take it to be an unequivocal rejection, or statement of an intention to reject at the next meeting.

The text of the motion that came out of the meeting, it turns out, makes no such intention clear, and may be reflecting the idiosyncratic bias of the motion's writer neither in accord with unanimous opinion in the room, nor indeed with the definition given by the Meeting Chair. This is not a subtle distinction, as sending it back to the DOT for more study implies that people had lingering questions that were unanswered, therefore could not decide.
In the meantime, Park Slope Neighbors reports signatures on it's petition (click here to sign the online version) opposing the one-way proposal are up to 2,000. PSN's Eric McClure writes:
It's critical that we all work to keep the pressure on our elected representatives and members of CB6 to ensure that the plan to convert the avenues to one-way operation dies -- and stays dead. PSN will present local elected officials and CB6 with the signatures of all those who have signed the petition, but we urge you to weigh in individually by calling or writing your Council Member, Assembly representative and State Senator, as well as the Borough President and the Community Board.
Much, much more to come before this issue reaches the full community board in April.

Related Posts:
Big Crowd of Park Slopers Turns Out Jeer One-Way Proposal
No Way One Way Update: "At This Time Edition"