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Posts from the "Brooklyn Greenway Initiative" Category

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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.

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Sunset Park Greenway: Big Challenges, Bigger Potential

Sunset_Park_Waterfront.jpgA map of potential greenway routes and east-west connections in Sunset Park. Image: UPROSE
A full crowd of about 60 people turned out for NYCDOT's Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway workshop in Sunset Park last night. The meeting was the second of four sessions the city is putting on with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the Regional Plan Association, as the years-in-the-making project of a continuous pedestrian and bicycle path tracing the Brooklyn waterfront moves from the concept phase to more detailed planning and engineering.

Determining a buildable greenway route in Sunset Park is a complicated proposition. The waterfront is an active industrial district filled with the sort of facilities that pose logistical hurdles for safe walking and biking. West of the BQE, the greenway route will have to negotiate obstacles like the 65th Street rail yard, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the active freight rail corridor on First Avenue. It won't be easy, but as Brooklyn Greenway Initiative planning director Milton Puryear told me last night, it's a place where you've got to think big.

A finished greenway in Sunset Park would bring huge payoffs. Sunset Park has one of the highest walk-to-work rates in the city, and a major new waterfront park is slated for the Bush Terminal Piers. So in addition to providing a route along the waterfront, the greenway project is a chance to connect the residential areas east of Third Avenue to the new park and the waterfront's industrial job center, using safe walking and bicycling paths. There's already a well-established base of local support for creating those connections: The United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE) started holding public workshops about the greenway and waterfront access in 2005.

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DOT Proposes Flushing Ave Bikeway in Prelude to Major Greenway Push

Flushing_bikeway.jpgImage: NYCDOT [PDF]
Here's a look at the Flushing Avenue bike path concept that NYCDOT presented to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee last night. This project would add another preliminary link to the path of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, following in the footsteps of the Kent Avenue bike lane. After a round of questions with DOT's project team, the committee passed a unanimous motion to endorse the concept.

DOT is aiming to implement the new bike path in July, and Brooklyn greenway project manager Ted Wright told CB 2 members to get ready for more greenway planning in the meantime. The agency is holding a series of public workshops, starting next week, for the full 14-mile length of the proposed greenway, part of a master planning process that officials expect to run through 2012. The first workshop, open to anyone who wants to come, will take place at Brooklyn Borough Hall on March 25. (You can RSVP with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, which is sponsoring the workshops with RPA.)

The Flushing Avenue project would construct a two-way bike path from Williamsburg Street West to Navy Street, separated from traffic by a nine-foot planted median. Vehicle traffic would travel in one westbound lane, between two lanes of parking. Only three curb cuts providing vehicle access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard would interrupt the bike path along the length of the project. Passengers on the B69 and B57 would disembark at bus bulbs constructed in the center median, with eastbound bus routes diverted to Park Avenue.

Despite the current tendency of motorists to speed on Flushing, the high volume of trucks, and the absence of a bike lane, more than 300 cyclists ride there on summer weekdays, according to DOT counts. "People are already using it for recreation and commuting purposes," said DOT Bicycle Program Coordinator Josh Benson. With the recent completion of the Sands Street bike path and the Kent Avenue path, the attraction of Flushing as a bike route to the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park is expected to grow substantially.

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Tomorrow: Speak Up for Safer Biking on Kent Ave

A tipster sends word that opponents of the Kent Avenue bike lane are making appeals to Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, a long-time supporter of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. A large group representing the Williamsburg Hasidic community showed up at Velazquez's office last week, our source tells us, to register their opposition to the bike lane, which is a precursor to the full build-out of the greenway.

Velazquez has played a big role in advancing the greenway, securing $14.6 million in federal funding for its construction. Staff members at her Brooklyn and DC offices were not available to confirm or comment on the bike lane opposition.

If it wasn't painfully obvious already, this can no longer be dismissed as your typical bike lane flap. To counter the opposition and show support for critical safety improvements, be sure to show up tomorrow at the full Community Board 1 meeting about the bike lane (211 Ainslie Street; sign up before 6:15 p.m. to speak). And if you haven't signed on yet to Transportation Alternatives' e-fax campaign, now is the time. More direct, in-person appeals will certainly be necessary, and we'll keep you posted about organized actions going forward.

Want to work the phones a little this afternoon? Check here for contacts at Velazquez's Brooklyn office, and here for City Council members Yassky and Reyna. They need to hear from constituents who don't want to see Kent Avenue take a step backward toward the dangerous bad old days:

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Eyes on the Street: Biking on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway

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Last time we checked in on the Columbia Street section of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, construction was in full swing. Now, along much of the path in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, the orange barrels are gone and new plantings are taking root. Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson snapped these shots last week, noting that about 40 new trees have been planted on Columbia between Atlantic Avenue and Degraw Street. The paths and plantings have completely changed the feel of the street, he tells us.

This section of the greenway is a "temporary" path that may be widened in the future. The current right-of-way varies between 13 and 20 feet and may expand to 30 feet, pending negotiations with the Port Authority, says Milton Puryear of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. We have a request in to DOT to find out when this phase of construction is slated to wrap up officially. For now, enjoy more of Clarence's pics.

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Another Sign of Progress for Brooklyn Greenway

During an epic bike tour of the city yesterday that stretched from the Bronx to Brooklyn, StreetFilms' Clarence Eckerson, Jr. took these shots of the future site of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Greenway, which received a vote of confidence from Community Board 1 on Tuesday, will run through the park along the edge of the pier. The demolished structures on the right were still standing when Clarence shot this video last year, documenting a tour of the Greenway's path.

Says Clarence: "Made me realize with all the sadness of congestion pricing failing, there IS plenty of great stuff going on in the city."

A tighter shot comes after the jump.

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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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Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Comes to Life


The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, a citizen-driven project that began with a handful of insane visionaries picking up trash and planting flowers beside a BQE off-ramp, is taking shape on Columbia Street.

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Notice the space for greenery between the sidewalk and the curb. Plans call for the park to connect Greenpoint to Red Hook.


Photos: Clarence Eckerson

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StreetFilms: Touring Brooklyn’s Future Waterfront Greenway


On Saturday, over 100 cyclists turned out for Brooklyn Greenway Initiative's annual ride. For nearly a decade, they have been working with numerous community & government groups to bring a Hudson River-style recreation path from Greenpoint to Sunset Park. In the next few years, much of the 15-mile route will finally become reality.

The tour highlight: It was the first public bike tour to be allowed to ride on the piers the future Brooklyn Bridge Park will occupy. Riders enjoyed vantage points of lower Manhattan few have ever seen. Along with Streetsblog reporter Sarah Goodyear, StreetFilms' Clarence Eckerson, Jr. was there with his camera. Afterwards, he produced this two minute video essay.

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They Cover the Waterfront: Brooklyn’s Future Greenway

eriverpark.jpg
Opening this summer: East River State Park on the Brooklyn waterfront 

It was a dreamy spring day on the Brooklyn waterfront as more than 100 bikers set out to trace the proposed route of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

Starting at the end of Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, cyclists were treated to views of the soon-to-open East River State Park as well as an unprecedented spin around the piers that will be part of the future Brooklyn Bridge Park. Watch a StreetFilm showing these rarely seen views here

puryear.jpgMilton Puryear (right), vice chair and director for planning of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), led the ride and did a great job of explaining the group's vision for the future of Brooklyn's waterfront. A key part of that vision is the provision for separate lanes for bikers and pedestrians, so that, as Puryear explained, "Cyclists can keep their heart rate up and pedestrians can lower their blood pressure."

The challenge facing the greenway's advocates is considerable. Considering the multitude of owners and interests at work along these now prime pieces of real estate, coordinating the planning and construction of a world-class greenway is an extraordinarily complex undertaking. Community Board 1 will be holding a planning workshop on May 24th at 6pm where residents of Greenpoint and Williamsburg will be able to brainstorm about planning options for that section of the greenway.

bb_park.jpgSeveral riders commented on how quickly we got from Greenpoint, where condo towers are sprouting right and left, down to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. It's easy to imagine how the construction of the greenway would provide a vital physical and psychological connection between the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint and the more established residential neighborhoods to the south -- Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. Right now, these neighborhoods feel very distant from each other, in part because the only way to travel between them is by the G train or by car on the massively overcrowded BQE. But on a bike, cruising along the East River, you can become aware of how close together they all really are -- and how integrated the waterfront's recreational opportunities could become with smart development.

The BGI has a spiffy new map showing the proposed route as well as the current preliminary route along the waterfront. Contact them and get a copy at info [at] brooklyngreenway [dot] org. Then go out and ride it yourself.

Photos: Sarah Goodyear