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Ride the New Pulaski Bridge Bikeway With Streetfilms

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens: NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog’s coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I’d love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

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The Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Is Open and It’s Magnificent

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer lead the pack of DOT officials, electeds and advocates on the Pulaski Bridge protected lane's first official ride. Photo: David Meyer

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (front left) and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (right) lead the pack. Photo: David Meyer

Pedestrians and cyclists don’t have to settle for scraps of space on the Pulaski Bridge any more. This morning, the bridge’s new two-way protected bikeway officially opened to the public, the culmination of a four-year effort to improve biking and walking access between Greenpoint and Long Island City.

The Pulaski carries thousands of cyclists between Queens and Brooklyn across Newtown Creek each day, according to DOT. For many years, cyclists and pedestrians had to squeeze onto a single narrow path, while motorists zoomed along on six lanes of congestion-free roadway. The Pulaski path became more congested every year as housing and jobs boomed on both sides of the bridge.

Assembly Member Joe Lentol began pushing DOT for the project in late 2012 after meeting with local residents frustrated by the increasingly crowded conditions on the path. The engineering challenge of providing sufficient protection for cyclists on the drawbridge section of the Pulaski proved surmountable, and construction was initially set to conclude by the end of 2014.

Red tape and construction delays pushed the project back more than a year, and the long wait came to an end with today’s grand opening. The project cost $4.9 million and was funded by the city with support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The Pulaski project is the most prominent example of the city repurposing car lanes on a bridge for biking and walking since Transportation Alternatives won the full-time use of a lane on the Queensboro Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists in 2000 (a fight that lasted no less than 22 years).

Other bridges could use similar treatments. The Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge both have bike-ped paths that get uncomfortably crowded, and DOT is currently working to improve bike-ped crossings on the Harlem River.

DOT Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning Ryan Russo led a group of department officials, advocates, and electeds on an inaugural ride on the bikeway from Long Island City to Greenpoint this morning.

Read more…

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Streetfilms Flashback: The Bad Old Days of the Pulaski Bridge

Later this morning, officials will cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. Pretty soon, it will be tough to remember the claustrophobic anxiety of navigating the narrow path — just 8.5 feet wide, and even less at pinch points — that pedestrians and cyclists made do with before today.

So here’s some footage for posterity that Clarence shot in October, 2013. You’ll never have to deal with this again, New York.

We’ll have a full report from the grand opening and a new video from Clarence later today.

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Looks Ready for a Ribbon-Cutting

Update: A DOT spokesperson tells Streetsblog that while finishing touches are being made, cyclists should follow the posted signage, which directs them to the shared pedestrian-bike path on the west side of the bridge. The new protected lane will be “unveiled” later this week.

It hasn’t officially opened, but you can ride on DOT’s long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bike lane linking northern Brooklyn and western Queens. Word is that a ribbon-cutting is set for the end of this week.

Over the weekend, Twitter and the Streetsblog inbox lit up with alerts that the path is rideable, though there are still cones and signs at both ends marking the bike lane as closed.

The Pulaski project has been in the works since 2012, when Assembly Member Joe Lentol requested that DOT explore the possibility of converting a car lane to a protected bike path so pedestrians and cyclists could have some breathing room instead of sharing a narrow, cramped pathway. The bikeway advanced in fits and starts since then, and after some delays it’s finally here, separated from car traffic by concrete barriers and a metal fence.

It’s not every day that part of a six-lane bridge gets repurposed from motor vehicle traffic to make room for biking and walking. The Pulaski bikeway points the way forward for bigger crossings like the Queensboro Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge where cyclists and pedestrians are an afterthought, jammed together on paths without enough space to move comfortably. We’ll have a full report when the new path officially opens.

Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: First Signs of Greenway Construction on West Street

west_street_cuts

These cuts in the asphalt are one sign that DDC is about to dig up West Street to install a two-way protected bike lane.

More than three years after it was approved by Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee, construction on the West Street segment of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is finally underway. The Department of Design and Construction confirmed that current work on West Street is related to the greenway.

The project will turn West Street into a one-way northbound route for cars with a two-way protected bike lane on the west side of the street. The redesign from Quay Street to Eagle Street is part of the 14-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway that will stretch from Sunset Park to Greenpoint.

West Street will be entirely reconstructed from top to bottom. In addition to the bikeway, DDC will construct bioswales and high-level sewers to prevent stormwater from overloading the system and sending raw sewage into the city’s waterways. The current construction work also includes the replacement of “century old watermains on Calyer Street from Franklin Street to West Street,” according to DDC.

A preliminary rendering of the two-way bikeway and planted buffer slated for West Street in Greenpoint. Image: DDC

A preliminary rendering of the two-way bikeway and planted buffer slated for West Street in Greenpoint. Image: DDC

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DOT’s Meeker Ave Safety Project Gets — You Guessed It — Meeker

DOT's updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for new neckdowns instead of a closed slip lane at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT’s updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for curb extensions instead of a car-free space at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue, and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT has watered down its safety plan for the area around Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan avenues. And for the second time in as many meetings, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee could not make quorum last night to vote on the project.

DOT’s plan calls for sidewalk extensions and crosswalks at several intersections where Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan converge. It’s not a “complete street” redesign of the length of Meeker, but it would be a step up for pedestrian safety at these locations. There were three fatalities and more than 90 injuries in the project area between 2009 and 2013.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

Map: DOT

Last night’s presentation included a few modifications from what DOT showed in January. Significantly, the plan no longer calls for pedestrianizing the short segment of North 5th Street between Metropolitan and Havemeyer. Instead, DOT will add neckdowns at three corners.

DOT Project Manager Julio Palleiro said the change was made at the request of the Church of the Annunciation, whose front entrance faces the would-be plaza. The church initially OK’d the car-free space, but came back to DOT after last month’s presentation. “They made a very strong case about elderly folks that need to get up to the front door here, and by having them over here that will add an extra 30 or 40 feet, which is significant for elderly people,” Palleiro said.

Read more…

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DOT: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Will Open By End of April

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The steel fence will extend over the drawbridge section of the Pulaski, protecting the new bikeway. Photo: Jon Orcutt

Construction of the Pulaski Bridge bike path is slated to finish at the end of April, according to a DOT spokesperson. As DOT’s bridge division puts together the finishing touches, specifics of the new design are coming to light, including how the bike lane will negotiate the drawbridge section of the Pulaski.

On most of the bridge, the bike lane will be separated from motor vehicle traffic by concrete barriers. The concrete transitions to metal railings near the drawbridge section. Currently, there is no railing on the drawbridge itself, but DOT says that’s coming soon.

TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt tweeted pictures of the new railings yesterday:

Read more…

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Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

Full-BRT---Brooklyn-Side

Claiming street space for full-fledged BRT can help L train riders weather the impending Canarsie Tube closure and meet the long-term transit needs of northern Brooklyn better than a waterfront streetcar. Click to enlarge. Map: Sahra Mirbabaee/BRT Planning International

The news that Sandy-related repairs will require closing one or both directions of the L train under the East River (the “Canarsie Tube”) for one to three years has understandably caused panic among the estimated 230,000 daily passengers who rely on it. Businesses in Williamsburg that count on customers from Manhattan are also concerned about a significant downturn in sales. When the Canarsie Tube was shut down on weekends only last spring, it was bad enough for their bottom line, and this will be much worse.

Fixing the Canarsie Tube is imperative, but it doesn’t have to result in a massive disruption that threatens people’s livelihoods. The key to keeping L train passengers moving is to create new, high-capacity bus rapid transit on the streets.

Since the potential closure went public, several ideas have been floated to mitigate the impact. None of them do enough to provide viable transit options for L train riders. Only setting aside street space for high-capacity BRT can give riders a good substitute for the train. This can be done in time for the impending subway closure while also creating long-term improvements that address surface transit needs in northern Brooklyn much better than a waterfront streetcar ever could.

The Inadequacy of Current Proposals

While some L passengers will be able to switch to other subway lines, a huge number will face significant inconveniences. Passengers from Bedford Avenue to Union Square, for example, will face up to three new transfers.

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DOT’s Meeker Avenue Safety Plan Is, Well, Meek

DOT unveiled its plan for pedestrian safety improvements along Meeker Avenue in north Brooklyn at last night’s Community Board 1 meeting, but board members and advocates with the “Make Meeker Move” campaign expressed disappointment with DOT’s failure to specifically address the safety of bicycling.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

This part of Meeker functions as a service road for the BQE. DOT’s proposal [PDF] would improve pedestrian crossings in the area around Meeker, Metropolitan Avenue, and Union Avenue, adding sidewalk extensions at 11 different locations. DOT proposes adding crosswalks at the intersection of Meeker and Union, moving poorly placed entrances to parking lots beneath the highway, and rerouting the Q59 so that it goes directly between Union and Metropolitan without detouring onto Meeker. At the intersection of Metropolitan and North 5th Street, DOT wants to close a slip lane to car traffic to make way for a pedestrian plaza.

Brooklyn safe streets activists have been organizing for a safer Meeker Avenue for the better part of the last year. The mile of Meeker beneath the BQE is a dark and dangerous dividing line between Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Between 2012 and 2014 there were three fatalities and over 100 injuries on the corridor. The project area is just as dangerous, if not more so, with eight fatalities and 90 injuries between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. Read more…

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Lentol: Safety Improvements Coming to Meeker Avenue in 2016

The intersection with Skillman Avenue is just one of many unsafe crossing along Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Image: Google Maps

The intersection with Skillman Avenue is one of many dangerous crossings along Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Photo: Google Maps

DOT will present safety improvements next month for Meeker Avenue by the BQE in Williamsburg, according to Assembly Member Joe Lentol. The department told Lentol’s office it would bring a proposal to Brooklyn Community Board 1 on January 12.

Meeker Avenue runs under the BQE for a mile between North 6th Street and Vandevoort Avenue, dividing the neighborhood in half and posing risks to pedestrians and cyclists at nearly every corner. In 2014, 21-year-old Marisol Martinez was killed by an MTA bus driver while crossing the street at Union Avenue. In total, there were three fatalities and 104 injuries on Meeker between 2012 and 2014.

In April, Transportation Alternatives launched the Make Meeker Move campaign, calling on DOT to study pedestrian safety improvements and protected bike lanes along the corridor.

The next month, Lentol sent a letter to DOT requesting a pedestrian crossing where Skillman Avenue intersects with Meeker. DOT’s response indicates that the agency is looking primarily at ways to shorten crossing distances:

Read more…