Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Brooklyn CB9 Gets a Bike Lane on Empire Blvd

empire_boulevard_traffic_calming.jpgDOT added bike lanes to its traffic-calming project for Empire Boulevard -- at the request of CB9. Image: NYCDOT.

These days, it's not often that we get to report about New York City community boards pushing DOT for more progressive street designs. So sit back and enjoy this post. If you read Streetsblog regularly, it'll blow your mind.

Back in April, DOT met with members of Brooklyn Community Board 9, which covers parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush, about a traffic calming project for Empire Boulevard. At the time, the project did not include a bike lane.

I asked district manager Pearl Miles about that meeting. "We said, 'How about a bike lane?'" she recalls. "Our community is largely residential, so we want it to be safe."

When DOT came back in May for a presentation to the full board [PDF], the project -- now sporting a bike lane -- passed in a resounding 38-2 vote.

Crews are now working on the Empire Boulevard project, which closely resembles the template DOT used to calm traffic on Vanderbilt Avenue. A moving lane will be removed in each direction, and a painted median with pedestrian refuges will run down the center. (Allerton Avenue in the Bronx is slated for similar treatment [PDF], as Mobilizing the Region reported on Monday. "We presented the Allerton project to the CB 11 committee that covers the specific area and we are taking their input as we finalize the plan,” said DOT spokesman Scott Gastel.)

There are many more streets where CB 9 would like to see bike lanes installed. Back in the 90s -- before anyone had ever uttered the words "Google Maps" -- land use chair Mike Cetera plotted out a bike network on an aerial map of the district. The goal, says Miles, was to identify routes for families to ride safely to local parks, including Prospect Park. The addition of the Empire Boulevard bike lane marks a major milestone for that plan.

"This is our first real implementation, and we're excited about it," said Miles.