By Shea Stevenson
When I first got to Brooklyn College I figured a lot of the weird, small problems I was noticing were apparitions to a non-native who didn’t yet understand how these small inconveniences added up to some broader stroke of necessary design.
The first obvious example of this is the stoplight on Bedford Ave between the separate campus quads. When I first got here I thought “Man, this feels like a long light, but you know what? I’m probably pre-annoyed because I have to show my ID again and it seems like cars are coming through so I bet it’s not that bad.” But after a year here, I can say with certainty that it is worse than I imagined it was then.
That Bedford Ave stoplight is ridiculous. It’s like it was programmed by a bitter man who once hit a pedestrian with his car and thought the best solution going forward would be if people never set foot on a road again. The worst thing is that even the cars don’t get what they want from the stoplight either if they’re constantly blaring horns are any measure of happiness (or lack thereof). People are always stopping in the middle of the road, clogging the buses trying to pass through, blocking the pedestrians crossing, sometimes just chilling out in their vehicles because they need a parking space. The only person who has any sort of positive interaction with the Bedford Ave stoplight is the halal food truck guy, who I bet makes a lot of money from students stuck waiting at the edge of the sidewalk who, upon time to reflect, could go for a gyro.
The obvious actual solution to this stoplight is to get rid of it along with access to the road it services. It’s already too narrow for earnest public traffic and it’s in constant use by pedestrians of all sorts. I know that’s an impossible ask and beyond the school’s control, but again, it’s the real solution, and from here on out I’m suggesting the stupid easy fixes.
Make the cars’ green light shorter. The cars aren’t going to notice, they think they’re waiting forever anyways. Maybe just make the lights shorter for the ten minutes surrounding common class starting and ending times, if you’re stingy about it. Students are so anxious to cross this street that they stand halfway to the center of it every time you see them waiting in a group of more than five.
I jaywalk across this street all the time. Making the light into some reasonable time to wait would make it far safer by simply disincentivizing these speed-focused tactics.
While we’re on the topic of entering campus: why is our best campus gate locked? Chained, like some haunted house theme park’s employees-only parking lot? I speak now of the Campus Road and East 27th Street entrance and the accompanying bike racks. The bike racks are numerous and even sit next to a functioning bike pump, but they’re tucked away into a corner of the campus that no one ever touches because it’s right next to the chained-up iron gate entrance and nothing else. This is an entrance with pizzazz, a styled canopy, a mix of the old je ne sais quoi of the brick buildings, and the modern functionality of the new ones. The only reason I can think to keep this gate closed is that they figure hiring a security guard to sit there while not many people use it is a bad return on investment. I say you already made the investment when you built the nicest entrance, and now it’s just good manners to keep it open.
I know at least one person who doesn’t use it, but wishes they could. Not necessarily because it’s the closest to them, but because it’s the most convenient for anyone who bikes to school if they want to lock it up inside the campus walls.
To close off, I’d say something about the disused bathrooms like that of the first floor of Ingersoll, but I hear the school has just hired two more plumbers, making it three total. There’s no telling what sort of great work these people will do, and at what pace. They have my sincere faith.
First the plumbers, then whoever lost the key to the chain around the Campus Road gate, then the civil engineers who lay the roads, then we’ll be all up to snuff.