The transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 16 last night voted in favor of a plan to stripe Brownsville’s first bike lanes, reports Nupur Chaudhury of the local non-profit Brownsville Partnership.
The plan presented by NYC DOT would stripe four bike routes in Brownsville and East New York: on New Lots Avenue, Pitkin Avenue, Mother Gaston Boulevard, and the north/south pair of Hendrix Street and Schenck Avenue. The New Lots and Hendrix/Schenck routes were originally slated for a future round of striping, but DOT was able to bump up the installation schedule to 2013, according to Chaudhury. “It means there’s two east/west routes and a north/south route in both East New York and Brownsville,” she said.
These bike lanes aren’t top-of-the-line infrastructure — they’ll provide stripes and, in some places, just sharrows, not physical protection — but they’re a milestone for two eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods that currently lack any on-street bike routes to speak of. The sight of bike infrastructure is still new enough here that when DOT began putting in the area’s first bike racks (they’ve installed 200 in the CB 16 district since the summer of 2011), Chaudhury heard some residents express confusion about what they were for. With the beginnings of a neighborhood bicycle network in place, getting around Brownsville and East New York by bike won’t seem so unusual.
The Brownsville Partnership is one of several neighborhood organizations, along with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation and the Pitkin Avenue BID, that have joined with DOT and the Department of Health to make local streets more bike-friendly. The community workshops  and events they put on starting in 2011  led to this point and will provide the basis for more improvements to come.
Next up: The proposal goes before CB 16’s full board meeting on January 22. DOT will also be going back to CB 5 with the current plan, which includes more routes than the version approved by the board’s transportation committee last fall . Chaudhury says installation this spring and summer is looking likely.