First Look: Grand Army Plaza as a Walkable Destination and Bicycling Hub

GAP_north.jpgAt the north end of Grand Army Plaza, new pedestrian spaces will make it easier to walk to the central public space. Click for a larger version. Image: NYCDOT

The walking, biking, and public space enhancements for Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza that DOT presented last night are now available online [PDF]. The top graphic shows the expanded pedestrian space and simplified intersection at the north end of the plaza, which will make walking to the center of GAP much more direct, pleasant, and safe. Here's what that space looks like now:

gap_north_google.jpgImage: Google Maps

Local activists have been organizing and advocating for years to make Grand Army Plaza a public space that lives up to its setting in the heart of Brooklyn. One of the coordinators of that campaign, Robert Witherwax of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition, sent us this reaction:

Of our six tenets -- improved commercial opportunities, close the gap [between the park and the central plaza], buy back asphalt, rethink traffic flow, aesthetic improvements, and improved ped and bike access to and through -- this hits the last four squarely on the head.

We have called for a wholesale rethinking of the interplay between peds, bikes, and cars and the space devoted to each: DOT brought that...

And the fact that DOT can do this in their operational toolbox is extremely interesting. This is Brooklyn's version of Times Square.

With Prospect Park West slimming down to two lanes, there won't be so much asphalt to cross walking from Union Street or Plaza Street to Grand Army Plaza:

gap_south.jpgNote what appears to be a bicycle roundabout in the lower left. Click here to enlarge. Image: NYCDOT

The tan areas will be getting the epoxy-and-gravel surface that's been deployed at other DOT pedestrian projects. There will still be a lot of asphalt between the park and the plaza, but in general the pedestrian areas should look and feel more distinct and separate from the traffic areas. Here's what this part of GAP looks like now:

gap_south_dot.jpgImage: NYCDOT

All those two-way bike segments planned for the south end will feed into a two-way, parking protected loop around Plaza Street. Together with the Prospect Park West two-way path and a potential two-way path on Eastern Parkway (part of a capital project that's taking the city forever to build), these changes will make Grand Army Plaza a safe, convenient, and very useful hub in Brooklyn's bike network, linking up with bike lanes on Vanderbilt Avenue and side streets heading into Park Slope. Implementation is slated to begin in August and would run through the end of 2010, according to DOT assistant commissioner Ryan Russo.

gap_bike_ring.jpgImage: NYCDOT