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Posts from the "Brooklyn Greenway Initiative" Category

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike Path, Same Old Illegal Parking

NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan's unit, overseeing illegally-parked minivans putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk. Photo: Robert Wright

NYPD Traffic officers had a great view of illegally-parked minivans last night in South Williamsburg. Photo: Robert Wright/Flickr

Well, that didn’t take long.

The paint is barely dry on the new two-way bike path on Kent Avenue in South Williamsburg, and drivers are using it as car storage for minivans. Again.

Robert Wright snapped a photo of cars blocking the bike lanes and sidewalk in full view of NYPD Traffic officers. “What’s the point of putting in a new bike lane if the police are essentially going to supervise its obstruction?” Wright asked in an email.

The bikeway should eventually include flexible posts, supposedly to keep cars out, before implementation wraps up. But without a more substantial barrier — and the revocation of consent from New York’s Finest – illegal and dangerous parking in the path of cyclists and pedestrians will probably continue.

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DOT Plans Road Diet and Bikeway Upgrade on Deadly Section of Kent Avenue

On Kent Avenue, DOT is proposing converting one northbound lane to parking and turning the southbound parking lane into a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

On Kent Avenue, DOT is proposing converting one northbound lane to parking and converting the southbound parking lane into a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 1′s transportation committee unanimously recommended the board support a DOT project [PDF] to calm traffic on a deadly stretch of Kent Avenue between Clymer Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The project also upgrades a link in the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway to a two-way protected bike lane.

Last March, hit-and-run driver Julio Acevedo, who police say was traveling 69 mph, killed Raizy and Nathan Glauber, both 21, in a two-car crash on this section of Kent Avenue at Wilson Street. Acevedo, facing charges including criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, is scheduled to go to trial next year.

Since the crash, DOT has installed traffic signals at Wilson and Hooper Streets. The agency says crosswalks will be added at these locations next year, once crews begin striping again in March. (Currently, there are no marked crosswalks between Clymer Street and the BQE, a distance of four-tenths of a mile.)

This section of Kent Avenue is currently a median-divided road with parking on the east and west sides of the street. There is one southbound car lane and two northbound car lanes. A DOT study in May found that 82 percent of northbound drivers exceeded the 30 mph speed limit, similar to measurements taken last March by Transportation Alternatives and Council Member Steve Levin, which found 89 percent of drivers breaking the limit.

“When roads are overbuilt, this is the way people drive,” said DOT’s Ted Wright, adding that car volumes on Kent could be accommodated in one lane in either direction without any impact on traffic. ”This is about limiting the speeds of vehicles on the northbound side,” he said.

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Here’s What’s Next for the Flushing Ave Segment of the Brooklyn Greenway

Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

The next phase of Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway construction on Flushing Avenue will build a raised two-way bikeway and planted buffers alongside the Brooklyn Navy Yard, creating a safer, more appealing environment on what has already become a much-used bike route. Here’s a look at the recently unveiled design from NYC DOT, the Department of Design and Construction, and project consultant Parsons.

As the city builds out the permanent greenway, reconstructing Flushing Avenue is one of the most important capital projects – a mile-long link connecting the Manhattan Bridge approach, DUMBO, and Farragut Houses to Williamsburg Street West, Kent Avenue, and Williamsburg/Greenpoint. The major upgrade entails converting the existing westbound curbside bike lane into a two-way bikeway at sidewalk grade, separated from motor traffic by a three-foot, planted cobblestone buffer. Another planting strip will separate the bikeway from the pedestrian path. For pedestrians, adding this bikeway will narrow crossing distances substantially — about 20 percent.

The Flushing Avenue greenway segment will add an eight-foot-wide, two-way bikeway at sidewalk grade and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by about 20 percent. Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

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Eyes on the Street: Minivans Parked All Over Williamsburg Sidewalk, Bikeway

Bike lane? Sidewalk? To these Williamsburg drivers, it's the perfect place to park.

A reader sent in this photo of what looks to be several dozen minivans in Williamsburg parked all over the sidewalk and bike lane on Kent Avenue.

Along this section of Kent, which is part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, the parked cars blocked both a southbound bike lane and a northbound bike route on the sidewalk.

“Kent Avenue is a very busy street with a great deal of vehicular traffic and the bike lane is there to ensure safety,” Council Member Steve Levin said in an e-mail, adding that he would check with NYPD about the issue. “Obviously, people should not be parking in bike lanes.”

This section of Kent Avenue borders the 88th and 90th precincts. We’ve asked NYPD if the agency has done any parking enforcement here. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

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One-Way Gap in Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Set to Be Closed This Fall

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is planned to run along the inside edge of a Port Authority lot in Red Hook. Negotiations between DOT and the Port Authority have delayed this short section until the fall. Image: DOT

Construction continues on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway along Van Brunt Street, with a two-way buffered bike lane extending the greenway south through Red Hook striped recently, but there’s a conspicuous gap in the route that won’t be filled until at least this fall.

Missing link: This two-way bike path on Conover Street is supposed to continue through the fenced-off lot in the background. Photo: Stephen Miller

Reader Anna Zivarts flagged the problem with this short video and set of photos showing how southbound cyclists on Imlay Street find that the two-way bike lane suddenly ends at Verona Street, giving them the option to backtrack, divert to a cobblestone street, ride on a narrow sidewalk, or ride against traffic for two blocks before rejoining the new bike lane on Conover Street.

Why the gap? As shown in this DOT presentation from February [PDF], the missing link is supposed to be bridged by a bike path that jumps off the street and runs along the edge of a Port Authority truck storage yard, but it appears negotiations between the Port Authority and DOT didn’t wrap up before the on-street section was striped.

“The permanent greenway route along the Basin is expected to be completed in the fall,” DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said in an e-mail. In the meantime, he said, DOT will be installing temporary bike route indicators on the sidewalk. This stretch of sidewalk, while not heavily used by pedestrians, isn’t especially wide, and on a recent visit was blocked by companies that were unloading trucks.

“We continue to work with the Port Authority and other agencies to implement the portion along Atlantic Basin,” Mosquera said. Streetsblog has inquired with the Port Authority, but is still awaiting a response.

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CB 6 Committee Votes for PARK Smart Zone, Brooklyn Greenway Extension

Image: NYC DOT

Last night, the transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 6 voted unanimously in favor of a new PARK Smart zone for Atlantic Avenue, Smith Street, and Court Street, and for a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway segment connecting Van Brunt Street to Valentino Pier in Red Hook.

The new PARK Smart zone, which Stephen covered earlier this week, works differently than PARK Smart in Greenwich Village and Park Slope, where on-street parking rates rise when demand is highest. NYC DOT’s proposal for Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill is to have rates rise progressively after the first half hour. The goal is to reduce traffic by discouraging long-term parking and all-day meter feeding in curbside spaces that should be turning over frequently. Brooklyn CB 2′s transportation committee voted for the plan on Tuesday.

DOT also presented plans for a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway segment that would loop out to Valentino Pier from Van Brunt Street. We have a request in with DOT for last night’s presentation (Update: Here it is), but in the meantime, below is a map of this part of the greenway from DOT’s implementation plan [PDF]. It looks like the segment that the CB 6 committee voted for last night includes capital projects 12, 13, and 14 (not 14a), or parts thereof:

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Greenpoint Gets a Preview of Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway on West Street

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

NYC DOT and consultants for the Department of Design and Construction gave Greenpoint residents a glimpse of preliminary designs for the West Street segment of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Wednesday night at a full meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The two-way bikeway proposed for West Street is the first of 23 capital projects that will eventually comprise the finished, 14-mile greenway.

While CB 1 voted in 2008 to support a similar redesign of Kent Avenue (a preliminary segment in the greenway), the current board seems to have regressed since then, and residents who support the project shouldn’t take anything for granted. At Wednesday’s meeting, the fundamental premise of establishing a two-way bike lane on the street received some support from the audience, but also a hostile response from the transportation committee chair.

For motor traffic, the plan would convert the length of West Street, currently two-way, to one-way northbound. Approximately 80 parking spaces on the west side of the street would be replaced with a two-way bike lane, separated from motor vehicle traffic by a mountable curb.

A mountable curb is not what Milton Puryear of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative would have preferred for West Street. “It’s not ideal,” he said, noting that the he often encounters parked cars on the Sands Street bike path, which has a mountable curb. While the proposed design will be open to similar incursions, Puryear said, it will be “way better than the way it is.”

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Friday Bikeway Omnibus Review

Furman_bike_lane3.jpgFurman Street, under the BQE. Photo: Paco Abraham

We've got a few different bikeway-related reader submissions that have come over the wire recently. First up, Dave "Paco" Abraham sends this picture of a two-way barrier-separated bikeway going in on Furman Street by the downtown Brooklyn waterfront. Furman is on the route of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and with Brooklyn Bridge Park opening piece by piece, it's already pretty common to see people biking in both directions on this three-lane speedway underneath the BQE cantilever.

Paco says it looks like the new bikeway is only going in between Joralemon Street and the entrance to the yet-to-open Brooklyn Bridge Park bike path, about a block away. We have a request in with DOT about the scope of this treatment. Extending it along the full length of Furman would plug one of the last major greenway route sections that feels unsafe to bike on between Greenpoint and the Columbia waterfront district.

Remember this from last week? It's where the East River Greenway caved in at 72nd Street. The Parks Department told us they would have it fixed this week, and here it is, all patched up. Parks didn't tell us, though, whether there's any attempt underway to determine whether all the other sinkholes on the greenway are symptoms of a larger problem.

The final update comes to us from Ed Ravin. Actually it's more like an epic saga with a happy ending. I'll let Ed tell the story:

For years, the East River bridges have been the stepchild of emergency phone coverage. Up until the mid 1990s, the Brooklyn Bridge had four emergency phones hooked up to two regular telephone lines.  If one of the lines failed, all the phones on that side of the bridge would go down with it.

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Brooklyn CB 2 Committee Approves New Plan for Flushing Avenue Bikeway

flushing_phase_two.jpgPhase two of the Flushing Avenue project maintains the city's commitment to a two-way bike path, but Brooklynites will have to wait a few years to get it. Image: NYCDOT

Last night, NYCDOT's Ted Wright presented a revised design for the Flushing Avenue bikeway to the transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2. The new version preserves plans for a fully-protected, two-way bike path while leaving room for two-way bus service and auto traffic. Because the revised design requires more complex construction work than the original, however, Brooklynites will have to wait a few years before that phase of the project gets built. In the meantime, DOT plans to lay down a less-robust interim project, which the committee endorsed unanimously.

The interim project will extend the two-way bike path on Williamsburg Street West -- which is protected from traffic by jersey barriers -- onto the north side of Flushing, up to Washington Avenue. (To orient yourself, check out this map.) Between Washington and Navy Street, the plan calls for buffered bike lanes on each side of the street. Parking on the north side of the street will be removed.

flushing_phase_one.jpgPhase one will add buffered bike lanes west of Washington Avenue. Image: NYCDOT

The original concept for Flushing Avenue called for a two-way, protected bike path all the way to Navy Street, preserving curbside parking while eliminating the eastbound traffic lane. DOT could have built that out as an in-house project this summer, but adjusted its plans after Navy Yard businesses and local residents objected to the new traffic pattern.

The city hasn't backed away from its commitment to build a safe connection for bicyclists and pedestrians on Flushing, but it will take longer to get there. Phase two of the new plan for Flushing calls for widening the sidewalk on the north side of the street by six feet. The wider sidewalk will then accommodate a two-way bike path and pedestrian space. Since expanding the sidewalk along the entire street entails changes to drainage and grading, phase two will have to proceed through New York's multi-agency construction bureaucracy. Wright estimated that it would take two to four years to build.

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Tonight: Turn Out to Support Safer Biking and Walking on Flushing Ave

flushing.jpgWhat it's like to bike on Flushing Avenue now. Photo: NYCDOT
We've got a late and important addition to the Streetsblog calendar: At tonight's meeting of the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee, DOT will present a revised proposal to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists on Flushing Avenue near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This is a critical link in the path of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and the project would provide safer bike connections for people riding to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges.

The concept that DOT initially presented for the project was well-received by this CB committee a few months ago, but met with resistance from Navy Yard businesses and locals who insisted on preserving two-way traffic flow on Flushing. If you want to help keep up the long-term momentum for a continuous Brooklyn greenway and improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians right now, don't miss this meeting.

It gets started at 6 p.m. Here's where to go:

St. Francis College
180 Remsen Street
1st Floor Board Room

It's a small room, so I recommend getting there as early as possible to find a comfortable spot.