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Posts from the "Brooklyn Greenway Initiative" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Bikeway Upgrade Calms Deadly Stretch of Kent Avenue

A missing link in the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is turning green. Photo: Frank Hebbert

A stretch of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route along Kent Avenue turned green last week. Photo: Frank Hebbert

A project that slims a dangerous section of Kent Avenue in South Williamsburg and straightens out an awkward stretch of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route is nearing the finish line.

In March 2013, Julio Acevedo was driving north on Kent Avenue at 69 mph when he killed Raizy and Nathan Glauber, both 21, in a two-car crash at Wilson Street. Acevedo fled the scene and later faced charges, including criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter.

The deaths spurred changes. DOT installed traffic signals at Wilson and Hooper Streets, and last January Community Board 1 supported a plan to replace parking on the west side of the street with a two-way bikeway, while adding parking along the median on the east side to slow northbound traffic.

The plan also improves the continuity of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route. Previously, the two-way bike lane on Kent jogged awkwardly, directing northbound cyclists to hop onto a sidewalk path between Williamsburg Street West and Division Avenue, while southbound cyclists had a painted lane between parked cars and motor vehicle traffic. The new arrangement creates a route where cyclists’ paths don’t criss-cross, bike traffic stays off the sidewalk, and the bikeway is separated from cars with flexible posts. Time will tell if those posts are enough to prevent the sidewalk parking extravaganzas that occasionally overwhelm this part of Kent Avenue.

With the reconstruction of Flushing Avenue planned for this fall, there will soon be three miles of continuous two-way bikeway from North 14th Street in Greenpoint to Navy Street near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge.

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Brooklyn CB 1 Committee OKs West Street Greenway, Borinquen Place Plans

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 1′s transportation committee voted 3-0 in favor of a preliminary design for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway’s first capital project on West Street in Greenpoint, and, in a separate 3-0 vote, endorsed pedestrian safety improvements for Borinquen Place in Williamsburg. These projects will bring major improvements for biking and walking on these two North Brooklyn streets.

NYC DOT has proposed sidewalk extensions, concrete medians, and other safety fixes for Borinquen Place. Above, a rendering of the intersection where Borinquen Place converges with Grand Street. Image: DOT

Borinquen Place is a major route for cyclists and drivers going to the Williamsburg Bridge, and it has a deadly history. Because it intersects the grid at an angle, it creates dangerous crossings for pedestrians. The intersection with Grand Street, for example, has an exposed crossing distance of 130 feet.

DOT’s plan is to expand pedestrian space and reduce crossing distances using painted curb extensions and concrete median islands.

The agency began studying Borinquen Place after a request from Council Member Diana Reyna and a string of fatalities. The agency is proposing painted curb extensions at Grand Street, South 1st Street, and South 2nd Street. A concrete median island would be installed on Borinquen Place between Rodney and South 2nd Streets, and concrete curb extensions would be added to the intersection with Marcy Avenue.

One block of South 1st Street, between Keap and Rodney Streets, would be changed from one-way westbound to one-way eastbound to minimize conflicts with pedestrians near Borinquen Place.

In addition, South 4th Street, which widens to 45 feet as it crosses the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, would receive a 15-foot wide painted sidewalk extension, narrowing the travel lane to 12 feet.

The agency is still working on identifying community partners to maintain possible tables and chairs in the sidewalk extensions and will reach out to businesses along the street in the coming weeks. Implementation could begin later next year.

The committee also voted to support the first capital project for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which would reconstruct West Street in Greenpoint, converting it to a one-way street with a two-way bikeway separated from motor vehicle traffic by a mountable curb.

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Brooklyn Greenway Milestone: City Announces Full Implementation Plan

A cross-section envisioned at one point along the greenway. Image: NYC DOT

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway started out as a glimmer in the eyes of a few dedicated volunteers 14 years ago. Now it’s a comprehensive city plan to build out a ribbon of parkland from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

At the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s annual benefit yesterday, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the release of an implementation plan for the full 14-mile greenway, which will serve as the backbone for car-free biking and walking along the borough’s waterfront. The plan consists of 23 segments that can be fed into the city’s capital construction pipeline.

“This document marks both the end of the planning stage and the start of a new era,” Sadik-Khan said in a statement today.

The backstory of the greenway could some day form a textbook for grassroots livable streets activism. The founders of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative — Meg Fellerath, Brian McCormick, and Milton Puryear — hatched the idea in 1998. In 2005 their vision took a huge leap forward, when Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez secured a $14 million federal grant for the project. Following NYC DOT’s 2008 decision to adopt the greenway as official policy, the city’s planning and outreach accelerated, with BGI, DOT, and the Regional Plan Association organizing dozens of public workshops over the past few years to map out the greenway route. ”Every step in the process was open and transparent and gave people an opportunity to express their ideas,” said Velazquez last night.

After a day when Republicans in Congress renewed their efforts to eviscerate and belittle programs for biking and walking, Velazquez framed the greenway project as a smart transportation investment. “It’s not only about providing public access, but connecting communities along the waterfront,” she said. “That is providing transportation options, so you can walk or bike, and burn some of those calories.”

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Brooklyn Greenway Needs Your Clicks

The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is in the running for a grant from Green Mountain Coffee and needs your online support. To help out, click over to JustMeans to cast your vote and leave a comment in favor of the project. Says the Greenway team:

The funds will help sustain our work over the next five years when the design of the greenway will be completed and the first segments will go into construction. In the current financial environment coming up with the required match for our funding from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund is proving challenging. You can help by voting for the greenway as an innovative climate change solution.

Free registration with JustMeans is required. Watch the video above for a BGI primer.

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The Livable Streets Backlash Claims a Victim at Brooklyn’s CB1

Teresa Toro, one of New York City's most productive livable streets activists in recent years, has been deposed as chair of Brooklyn Community Board 1's Transportation Committee. CB1 covers the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn and has recently been embroiled in bitter fighting over the new bike lanes on Kent Avenue. CB1's executive committee voted unanimously to remove her.

As committee chair, Teresa was instrumental in winning New York City's first on-street bike parking, last summer's Williamsburg Walks event on Bedford Avenue and -- don't forget this -- a 39-2 Community Board vote in favor of the suddenly controversial Kent Ave. greenway plan.

It's also worth noting that the Kent Avenue bike lanes were the by-product of a decade of community-driven planning as part of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. Williamsburg's politically-powerful Hasidic community, offended by the loss of parking space and the potential increase in short-sleeved, female goyim rolling through the neighborhood, has vowed to make life miserable for cyclists.

We'll try to get some more details in the new year. In the meantime, get some rest over the holidays, folks. The backlash is for real and it's gonna be a fight in 2009. You can fax a letter to Mayor Bloomberg to express your support for the Kent Avenue bike lane.

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Brooklyn CB1 Approves Bike Path in Place of Parking

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Here's how space is divvied up on Kent Avenue today...

On Tuesday night, Community Board 1 in north Brooklyn voted 39-2 to support adding a separated bike path to Kent Avenue, a truck route through Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The path will be part of the Brooklyn Greenway, which is slated to follow the waterfront from Greenpoint to Red Hook when complete.

What makes the overwhelming "Yes" vote especially noteworthy is that the greenway section on Kent Avenue will displace hundreds of on-street parking spaces. "That was one of the biggest hurdles, getting a community to accept a loss of parking," says Milton Puryear, director of planning for the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. "For people who have cars that’s a lightning rod issue."

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...and how it would be allocated under the proposal approved by CB1 on Tuesday. (Rendering by the Regional Plan Association.)

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Tonight: Support a Bike-Friendly North Brooklyn

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Congestion pricing may be dead for the moment, but livable streets advocates can't afford to let that sap our strength or motivation. There are plenty of changes to be made that need grassroots support -- and not one iota of approval from Albany -- to reach fruition. One of those measures will face a crucial test later today.

Brooklyn Community Board 1 is slated to vote tonight on plans for a separated bike path on Kent Avenue and West Street. To add the bike path, parking spaces will be shifted away from the street, and you can bet that even this modest proposal will gin up some opposition. The public is invited to speak (see details below), and the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is urging bike path supporters to come out and show support:

The plan involves the transfer of parking from Kent Ave and West St to new spots we have found in areas that are changing from industrial to residential use. Despite the fact that we have identified enough spaces within two blocks of the route to avoid inconveniencing people who may park there, there is often strong resistance to what may be spun as a "loss of parking". So we really need a strong showing of support to make the board know the overwhelming desire for these improvements for Kent and West that will make them more inviting for both pedestrians and cyclists. The project will also add over 250 new street trees and other greening of the streetscape.

To speak, you must sign up by 6:15pm. The meeting is at the Swinging 60's Senior Citizens Center, 211 Ainslie Street (corner of Manhattan Avenue).

Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

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Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Benefit This Thursday

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When I first met Brian McCormick, Milton Puryear and Meg Fellerath in the spring of 2002, they were picking up trash and planting tulips alongside a Brooklyn-Queens Expressway off-ramp in Cobble Hill. I asked them what they were up to and they told me they were working to create a waterfront greenway for Brooklyn -- a linear park running from Greenpoint to Red Hook. I didn't have the heart to tell them they looked like a gang of juvenile delinquents paying off 40 hours of community service for shop-lifting. Clearly, these people were either insane or visionary.

At the time, Brian, Milton and Meg had no serious funding, no office and no particularly powerful allies or sponsors. They just had a great idea and a ton of persistence. They kept picking up trash, planting flowers, organizing the community and pushing their idea. Today the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is a professional non-profit organization with capital funding from the federal government, an office on Columbia Street and all kinds of high-powered allies and sponsors. They may or may not be insane, but they are definitely visionary.

Personally, I find the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to be one of the most inspired and exciting community-driven development projects in all of New York City (take that, High Line). This Thursday evening, BGI is hosting a benefit event on the beach at East River State Park. There will be cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and music. If you are not already involved in the Greenway, this is a great chance to get in on the ground floor of shaping the future of Brooklyn’s waterfront and, in the process, creating a more livable city.

Thursday, June 28th, at 6:30 pm
East River State Park, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
RVSP: Buy tickets online
View the invitation (pdf)

Photo: ambienttraffic/Flickr
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Aiming to Reduce Car Use Around Brooklyn’s New Park

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Some excellent news just came across the transom in a press release from the Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation. The are announcing "the launch of a transportation study that will examine potential future means of providing access to Brooklyn Bridge Park, with an aim to reduce reliance on personal vehicles."

The study is being made possible through a $1 million grant from the US Department of Transportation secured by Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez. (Velazquez is becoming a real hero for Downtown Brooklyn. She also recently secured funding for the development of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Initiative). The press release goes on to say:

The study will kick off with an open public meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4 at the auditorium at St. Francis College. The meeting will be the first in a series of open public meetings to discuss access issues concerning the new park.

Sam Schwartz PLLC will be leading a multi-disciplinary team of traffic engineers, transportation planners and architects studying various transportation and access alternatives. The study will focus solely on an examination of how to improve transportation and access to-and-from the park. The study will explore a variety of topics including potential vertical connections from Brooklyn Heights, subway access, bike lanes, greenway connections, jitney buses, waterborne transportation and improved pedestrian accommodations on Old Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue.