Two-Way Bike Lane Back on Table For Plaza Street, But Will It Be Protected?

Upgrading the Plaza Street bike lane would provide safer connections between the many bike lanes feeding into Grand Army Plaza.

Is the NBBL era finally behind us? First, Senator Chuck Schumer himself was spotted riding in the Prospect Park West bike lane. Now, the Department of Transportation is reviving a plan, shelved at the height of the NBBL-aided media circus about cycling, to build a two-way bike lane on Plaza Street.

DOT first proposed the two-way Plaza Street lane in 2010, as part of a larger set of improvements to Grand Army Plaza. The package got an enthusiastic reception from a joint meeting of Community Boards 6, 8 and 9, and most of the pedestrian and bike improvements in the plan went forward in 2011, but the Plaza Street lane didn’t make it.

The plan for a protected Plaza Street lane happened to be under discussion at the height of the political assault on the nearby Prospect Park West lane. DOT moved ahead with the Grand Army Plaza proposal last April, without the Plaza Street bike lane, promising to revisit the discussion at an unspecified later date. At the time, Streetsblog called it the “NBBL Effect.”

As first reported by Brownstoner, that later date is now. DOT will present local community boards with multiple options for providing two-way bike access on Plaza Street later this month, said a department spokesperson. “We have continued to work with the community on ways to improve bike access and look forward to presenting options at next month’s meeting,” DOT said in a statement.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that both protected and unprotected options will be on the table. Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6, hasn’t seen the plans yet, but guessed that any proposal from DOT will differ at least slightly from what was put forward two years ago.

The two-way bike lane would be an important hub in the area’s bike network, allowing cyclists to travel safely and easily between the various bike lanes that extend from Grand Army Plaza in every direction.

  • J

    I have little trust in an article from Natalie O’Neill. She credits cycling advocates as pressing for an unprotected bike lane there, which I think is not true. As advocates we need to be vocal that we want a protected 2-way lane. Also, a two-way unprotected bike lane is unprecedented in NYC, and I highly doubt that is what’s planned for Plaza Street.

  • Anonymous

    All for two-way lane there, but it’s of no use if they don’t improve the timing of the lights–which for cyclists are, I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time, horrible, just horrible.

  • Anonymous

    I just recently got an email newsletter from DOT that mentioned all counter-flow lanes must be barricaded or parking protected. Curious to see what they came up with.

  • Plaza Street Rider

    If the Plaza Street bike lane isn’t protected, then, no, the “NBBL era” is not finally behind us.  In fact, it’s a striking lesson in how one illegitimate lawsuit, a small group of wealthy NIMBYs, and the willing cooperation of all the Natalie O’Neills out there can send the DOT running back to the drawing board, tail between their legs. 

  • Eric McClure

    Unless the Brooklyn Paper re-edited the story they posted, I don’t see anything in there saying that advocates were pushing for an unprotected two-way lane there. I know when I spoke with Natalie, I told her that I strongly favored a parking-protected path.

  • Eric McClure

    If you support a parking-protected path on Plaza Street, it’s really important that DOT and the Community Boards hear from you. Write to them, and show up at the meeting on April 19th — triply important if you actually live on Plaza Street!

  • J

    @EricMcClure:disqus It doesn’t say so directly, but it implies that cycling advocates are behind a 2-way bike lane, regardless of whether it is protected or not. It is not clear that advocates are adamantly pushing for protection, and I think this is important to correct. Have a look:
    “Bike advocates say the city will unveil proposals for a two-way lane that is not separated from traffic and a two-way lane that is shielded from cars at the Community Board 6 meeting.The plan is popular among cyclists, but its predecessor faced some opposition from neighbors and motorists.”

  • There are only two things that have changed since 2010 and the enthusiastic reception a protected bike lane received from the local community boards:

    1. The NBBL lawsuit, which was dismissed and will soon be re-dismissed, if that’s a legal term.
    2. Ridership levels, which have increased exponentially and are likely to explode this summer.

    Which should receive the most priority from DOT and community leaders in deciding the future of Plaza Street?

  • Mike

    What on earth would an unprotected two-way bike lane look like on a street like that??

  • J

    @2a15ea2c09af9bca9fa0232039062265:disqus I’m not advocating for this, and don’t think DOT would go for it anyway, but the unprotected proposal would likely be contraflow lanes. Here is an example from Montreal, where is works decently, as double-parking is less of an issue there:
    http://g.co/maps/wkxkb

    That said, let’s fight for protected lanes on this important corridor.

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