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Posts from the Downtown Brooklyn Category


Sneak Preview: The Jay Street Protected Bike Lane

DOT will present its proposal for protected bike lanes on Jay and Smith Streets in downtown Brooklyn to tonight's CB 2 transportation committee meeting. Image: DOT

Image: DOT

Tonight, DOT will present plans for a protected bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee. DOT shared this rendering of the redesign with Streetsblog this afternoon.

Jay Street is an essential connection for bike commuters traveling over the Manhattan Bridge, but it’s chaos during rush hour, when cyclists must weave around a slalom course of double-parked vehicles and car and bus traffic.

Sean Quinn, DOT’s senior director for bicycle and pedestrian programs, told Streetsblog that the redesign has taken on greater urgency as the number of people biking on Jay Street has increased. DOT counts show 2,400 cyclists on the corridor in a 12-hour period. During rush hour, bikes make up 34 percent of the vehicles on Jay Street.

Once this project and its Manhattan counterpart on Chrystie Street are implemented, there will be four miles of continuous protected bike infrastructure from Midtown Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn.

The DOT plan calls for parking-protected bike lanes on both sides of Jay Street between Sands Street and Fulton Street. For the most part, there will be five-foot bike lanes by the curb protected from motor vehicle traffic by parked cars with a two-foot painted buffer. The bikeways are narrower than typical protected bike lanes in NYC, which usually have at least a three-foot buffer and six-foot bike lane. South of Fulton, where Jay Street becomes Smith Street, there will be less protection, though we don’t have the specifics on that section yet.

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Eric Adams Proposes Downtown Brooklyn Car-Share Fleet for City Agencies

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is open to clearing Borough Hall Plaza of parked cars, and he also wants City Hall to study a car-share system for government agencies in Downtown Brooklyn.

We reported last November that Adams and his staff resumed using the plaza as a parking lot after an $11 million rehab, following the lead of his predecessor, shameless space hog Marty Markowitz.

In a recent letter to Mayor de Blasio, Adams said he is considering an internal survey to determine how Borough Hall employees get to work and looking at using off-site garages instead of the plaza.

He also suggested that city agencies with offices in Downtown Brooklyn may be able to consolidate their fleets. Adams wants to the city to investigate a “municipal car share system” to consolidate the vehicles of the half-dozen or so agencies located downtown. The Department of Buildings, the Department of Education, and DOT are among the agencies with offices in the area.

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Reimagining Jay Street With Shared Space and Protected Bike Lanes

A two-way, center-running bikeway and a bus lane would be added to Jay Street south of Tillary Street under a concept suggested by Transportation Alternatives. Image: Street Plans Collaborative for Transportation Alternatives

A two-way, center-running bikeway and a bus lane would be added to Jay Street south of Tillary Street under a concept suggested by Transportation Alternatives. Image: Street Plans Collaborative for Transportation Alternatives

Jay Street is one of the major north-south spines of Downtown Brooklyn. The street is full of pedestrians near MetroTech, cyclists going to and from the Manhattan Bridge, and buses connecting to nearby subways, but it’s not designed to serve anyone particularly well — except, perhaps, people with parking placards. Double-parked cars constantly obstruct bike lanes and buses. Pedestrians deal with dangerous intersections. Everyone is frustrated.

In March, Transportation Alternatives hosted a workshop with Council Member Stephen Levin and Community Board 2 to solicit ideas on how to improve Jay Street. Now, TA is out with the results of the project, including a redesign that features shared space and dedicated lanes for buses and cyclists [PDF].

Some of the changes can be implemented relatively quickly — like adding lighting beneath the Manhattan Bridge and giving pedestrians a head-start on crossing the street before drivers get a green light. Cracking down on illegal placard parking is a matter of will and could happen overnight if the authorities decide that it matters.

Other ideas would involve more substantial physical changes to the street. The report recommends upgrading the bike lane between York and Prospect Streets to a two-way protected bikeway to allow for better connections to DUMBO. The bikeway could then be extended along the west side of Jay Street between the Manhattan Bridge and Tillary Street. The complex intersection at Tillary would receive wider pedestrian medians, neckdowns, and signal changes that give cyclists time to cross the intersection when it isn’t filled with cars.

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DOT Studying Shared Space for Three Blocks Next to Willoughby Plaza

Three blocks, one on Willoughby Street and two on Pearl Street, could become shared space. Photo: Google Earth

DOT is looking to calm traffic on these three blocks by blurring the lines between sidewalk and roadway. Photo: Google Earth

Three narrow blocks near Willoughby Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn could become “shared space” streets under a DOT plan to blur the lines between sidewalks and car lanes. The concept has been under discussion for years as a way to slow motorists and give pedestrians more breathing room, and the city is now studying this concept in earnest. There are some funds allocated for construction, and DOT is planning to get feedback on potential designs at a public meeting next month.

“This is a different type of space,” said Laurel Brown of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “It’s not exactly a plaza where you don’t expect to see cars. It’s not exactly a street where you don’t expect to see people.”

The project would build on the success of Willoughby Plaza, which reclaimed an adjacent block from cars in 2006 and became the city’s first pedestrian plaza project to be cast in concrete early last year. Two of the proposed shared space blocks are on Pearl Street, running north of Fulton Mall until the street dead-ends at the Brooklyn Renaissance Plaza office tower. The other block is on Willoughby Street between Pearl and Jay Streets, immediately east of the plaza. In addition to people walking between Jay Street and Borough Hall, the streets are used primarily for loading and drop-offs, not through traffic. They are also full of parked cars, many using placards.

“We’re looking at some potential designs that will recognize the unique uses there, as opposed to putting down a typical New York City street,” said Chris Hrones, DOT’s Downtown Brooklyn Transportation Coordinator, at a meeting of Community Board 2’s transportation committee last night. “We’re exploring some unconventional design approaches.”

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Sooner or Later, the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Needs Better Transit

New condos in Long Island City are part of the first wave of changes sweeping the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

The Brooklyn and Queens waterfront is in the midst of a grand transformation that’s only just begun. Newly built Brooklyn Bridge Park is already firmly established as one of the city’s most stunning public spaces. The Brooklyn Navy Yard now hosts glitzy fashion shows by international designers like Alexander Wang and Dior. Long Island City’s waterfront is a wall of glassy new condos. Many more changes are coming.

As this transformation takes place, new travel patterns are emerging, and for the better part of the last ten years, planners have floated the prospect of a new transit line along the waterfront to accommodate residential development and job growth. Most recently, architecture critic Michael Kimmelman suggested in the New York Times that the city build a streetcar along the waterfront, prompting Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, to Tweet: “Love big ideas.”

Others were critical, noting that a streetcar represents a huge investment that could be better spent on other transportation priorities: using buses to connect residents with the subway, or beefing up service on the city’s busiest bus routes. Writing for Next City, Stephen Smith noted: “You cannot effectively connect waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens to both each other and the subway.” Smith also pointed out that the waterfront neighborhoods, for all their development, have relatively low population and job densities.

To plan for the future of the waterfront, however, we have to give some thought to transit. I agree that the cost of a light rail line is unnecessary (and streetcars make little sense regardless of the expense), but the city will need to forge stronger transportation links to meet the area’s full potential. The rationale for transit improvements is about the waterfront’s ultimate potential for new housing and jobs, rather than the existing conditions.

The city should begin by strengthening bicycle connections and by improving bus service with the goal of a one-seat ride from Astoria to Downtown Brooklyn. Both modes could certainly connect new residents and workers with the subway: The F train at Jay Street and the 7 train at Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue are both within reach.

But a subway connection is not the main point. A successful vision for the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront is necessarily oriented away from Manhattan and instead looks to stitch the waterfront communities together. Otherwise, new residential developments will be effectively cut off from each other and from new job centers in DUMBO, the Navy Yard, Williamsburg, and Long Island City.

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Eyes on the Street: Illegal Parking Crackdown Coming to Jay Street

Photo: Eric McClure

Photo: Eric McClure

Reader Eric McClure spotted these flyers today on cars “up and down Jay Street between Johnson and Willoughby,” in the 84th Precinct. This comes a few weeks after attendees at a public workshop identified illegal parking as a major safety hazard and a major source of dysfunction on Jay Street, where pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and private motorists all mix near the Manhattan Bridge approach.

“Looks like the 84 is getting ready to start writing some tickets,” McClure writes. “Big props to [CO] Capt. [Maximo] Tolentino.”

Judging by the flyer, excuses on the dashboard aren’t going to fly.


Fixing Jay Street Starts With Cracking Down on Illegal Parking

Jay Street, the north-south route often overshadowed by nearby car-clogged Adams Street and Flatbush Avenue, is a major artery in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, flush with pedestrians going to and from the subway and cyclists heading to the Manhattan Bridge. It’s also overrun with illegally-parked drivers, creating an obstacle course for anyone trying to navigate the street.

In addition to longer-term design changes, improving Jay Street could start with better enforcement against illegal parking in bus stops and bike lanes. Photo: Street Plans Collaborative

Improving Jay Street could start with more enforcement against illegal parking in bus stops and bike lanes. Photo: Street Plans Collaborative

After years of advocacy by its Brooklyn activist committee, Transportation Alternatives hosted a presentation [PDF] and forum last night to solicit ideas on how to improve the street through short-term action and long-term design fixes. The event attracted nearly 100 people and included representatives from DOT and NYPD. It was co-sponsored by a suite of local groups and officials, including the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, DUMBO BID, Forest City Ratner Companies, Community Board 2 and Council Member Stephen Levin.

“It’s been so long since it was really re-imagined. It’s outdated,” said Levin, who added that he was recently looking for a cause to champion during his second term. “Jay Street was the thoroughfare that jumped out to me as the street most in need of improvement.”

Forum leaders said cracking down on illegal parking emerged as a top issue in the five break-out groups. “The whole parking issue is really the crux of the problems on Jay Street,” said event organizer Eric McClure. The problem isn’t related to lack of available spaces nearby: The city halved off-street parking requirements in the area in part because there’s already a glut of available off-street spaces.

Dante Orsini, 67, lives in the Concord Village co-op, which sits between Jay and Adams Streets at Tillary Street and notified its residents about last night’s meeting. Orsini usually walks or drives along Jay Street and agreed that it needs fixes, especially south of Tillary. Double parking was his top complaint, he said before the meeting.

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Monday: Reimagine the Mess That Is Jay Street


It’s filled with double-parked cars. On just about every block, drivers stand illegally in bus stops, block the bike lane, and make illegal U-turns. If you’ve ever walked to jury duty in Brooklyn or biked over the Manhattan Bridge, you know Jay Street is chaos incarnate.

What can be done? Well, here’s a chance to make some change happen. Transportation Alternatives, Council Member Stephen Levin, and Brooklyn Community Board 2 are putting on a workshop to build some momentum to overhaul Jay Street. Bring your ideas over to 1 Metrotech on Monday at 6:30. RSVP here.

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Cyclist Struck in the Bronx Today Is Second Fatality in Past Two Weeks

A cyclist was struck and killed by a driver this morning in the Bronx, and EV Grieve reports that a restaurant worker who was hit by a motorist last week while biking in Brooklyn died from his injuries.

Cesar, identified as the cyclist fatally struck by a motorist in Downtown Brooklyn on October 20, had a wife and three kids, according to EV Grieve. No charges were filed.

Today’s crash occurred in Claremont. NYPD and published reports say Walter Ayala, 36, was traveling west on St. Paul’s Place when he was struck by the driver of a Toyota headed north on Third Avenue. Ayala died at the scene.

NYPD told Streetsblog it appears Ayala ran a red light and the motorist had the right of way. NYPD didn’t specify how the agency determined who had the right of way, and provided no information about driver speed. A spokesperson said no summonses were issued and the investigation is ongoing.

Walter Ayala was killed in the 42nd Precinct, in the City Council district represented by termed-out Helen Foster.

In the earlier crash, a cyclist identified as Cesar was biking home from his job at Stromboli Pizza in the East Village sometime on the night of October 20 when according to DNAinfo the driver of a GMC truck hit him at the corner of Smith and Schermerhorn Streets in Downtown Brooklyn.

DNAinfo reported the next day that the cyclist was making a left turn from Smith to Schermerhorn when he was struck by the northbound driver, and that he was hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Via Gothamist, EV Grieve wrote today that the cyclist, who was identified by a reader, died as a result of the crash:

“Apparently he was on a bicycle going home to Brooklyn after work and was hit by a truck and died from his injuries in the hospital after being in a coma for a few days,” Aizaz says.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Says Aizaz, “Cesar had a lot of charm and a very positive attitude about everything we ever chatted about.”

Stromboli Pizza is taking donations for the family.

No other details were reported pertaining to what caused this crash. The DNAinfo story from October 21 said the motorist “was not expected to be charged.”

The crash that killed Cesar occurred in the 84th Precinct, in the council district represented by Steve Levin.


Feds Reject All Three NYC Applications for Latest Round of TIGER Grants

Without a TIGER grant, New Yorkers will have to wait a little longer for the next phase of the Bronx River Greenway (in red). Map: Bronx River Alliance

This morning, U.S. DOT announced the winners in the latest round of its highly-competitive TIGER grant program. While upstate New York won grants for two projects — a highway teardown in Rochester and a complete streets project in Olean — New York City missed out, with applications for ferry improvements, a greenway connection in the Bronx, and the redesign of a busy intersection in Downtown Brooklyn failing to make the cut.

DOT had applied for funding to implement the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway project, a long-anticipated reconstruction of the intersection of Tillary Street and Adams Street that would dramatically improve cyclist and pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge. DOT, which had unsuccessfully submitted the partially-funded project for earlier rounds of TIGER funding before trying again this year, told Streetsblog it was looking at other federal funding sources to fill the gap.

The Parks Department applied for $27.5 million from TIGER to match $10 million in city funds for the completion a section of the Bronx River Greenway between Starlight Park and Concrete Plant Park. The Bronx project includes three bridges — two over the Bronx River and one over the adjacent Amtrak corridor. The project, delayed by negotiations over the Amtrak bridge, saw state funds dedicated to its construction expire in 2009.

A third application, from EDC, would have been dedicated to ferry infrastructure. Streetsblog has inquired with Parks and EDC to see how they plan to fund their projects without TIGER; we’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

New York City has previously won TIGER grants for Hunts Point freight rail infrastructure, Moynihan Station, the city’s Sheridan Expressway study, and the redesign of Fordham Plaza.