Eyes on the Street: Bike Lane Stripes on Washington Avenue

The view south on Washington Avenue at Prospect Place. Photos: Ben Fried

It looks like DOT is exercising its option to stripe a bike lane on Washington Avenue, imposing some order on street markings from Eastern Parkway to Atlantic Avenue. Previously it wasn’t really clear whether this part of Washington was one traffic lane or two traffic lanes in each direction, leading to a lot of double-parking, dodging, weaving and speeding. Now it’s official: Washington Avenue is one lane in each direction with left-turn bays and a marked bike route (some of which is sharrows). I could be wrong, but this bike lane might be NYC’s first new route in 2011, which is shaping up to be a slower year for bike network expansion compared to the previous three years.

The bike route was described as “optional” in DOT’s presentation on the project, which Brooklyn Community Board 8 approved in April. The safety improvements on Washington include new pedestrian infrastructure for the five-point intersections at Atlantic Avenue and at Park Place. Local residents, led by architect Jeff Sherman, had gathered hundreds of signatures asking for pedestrian improvements at Atlantic.

The expanded sidewalks at the intersection of Washington, Park, and Grand Avenue will, one hopes, permanently discourage police from depositing their vehicles in the pedestrian right of way. (Full disclosure: I cross this intersection just about every day.) Crews have been carving up the asphalt there for the past two days, holding the sidewalk parkers at bay for the time being, at least at the corner marked off with construction barrels.