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.
Committee member Mike Epstein said the plan provides "a top-notch protected bikeway" on a street in desperate need of safety improvements. "It’s important to look at this as a traffic-calming project" that will benefit pedestrians too, he said.
Epstein also requested better bicycle connections from Vanderbilt Avenue, where the bike lane terminates south of Fort Greene, and Bedford Avenue, where the erasure of a 14-block bike lane segment has left cyclists without a continuous route to the Williamsburg Bridge.
Benson said DOT would look into both ideas, but that adding a connection from Bedford would be hindered by ongoing construction work on Flushing Avenue. The segment of Flushing between Bedford and Williamsburg Street is still being reconstructed, he said, because the Department of Design and Contruction encountered an underground stream.
After the presentation and the unanimous vote in favor, I caught up with Milton Puryear, head of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. Following last year’s drawn out fight over the Kent Avenue bike lane, this early vote on the greenway precursor for Flushing Avenue was a friction-less affair. He was smiling almost the whole time we talked.