Foot and bike traffic has greatly increased on Vanderbilt Avenue because of residential and commercial development in Prospect Heights and the surrounding areas. As a result, Vanderbilt Avenue has become both a main street for Prospect Heights and a key connection for people traveling by foot and bicycle between Fort Green/Clinton Hill and Prospect Park.
However, Prospect Heights residents had long been concerned that the design of Vanderbilt Avenue was extremely dangerous. Area residents, including those with children attending schools MS 340 on the corner Vanderbilt and Sterling and P.S. 9 on Underhill between St. Marks/Bergen, avoided using Vanderbilt Avenue at all costs. Between 2002 and 2004, there were 41 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists struck by drivers on Vanderbilt Avenue between Plaza Street and Atlantic Avenue, twice the number of pedestrians struck by cars than the previous three year period. One pedestrian was killed at the intersection of Sterling Place and Vanderbilt Avenue in the last five years. With the increasing popularity and use of Vanderbilt Avenue, pedestrian and bicyclist safety must be a priority.
In the fall of 2005, PHNDC worked with Transportation Alternatives, the office of Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, Councilmember Letitia James, and the Brooklyn Department of Transportation to identify a solution that would slow the speed of traffic on Vanderbilt Avenue and encourage responsible driving by motorists using the roadway. In June of 2006, Vanderbilt Avenue was striped with a median between Sterling Place and Dean Street. The narrower lanes helped calm traffic, and provide greater safety for pedestrians crossing the street.
Calming of traffic on Vanderbilt Avenue resulted in an increased use of the avenue by bicyclists. In order to better provide for the safety of cyclists, as well as to further improve the pedestrian experience on Vanderbilt, in April of 2008, DOT announced plans to repave Vanderbilt Avenue, stripe bicycle lanes, and install planted pedestrian islands and a raised median between Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue. Street construction work was completed in June of 2008, with planting to take place in the fall.