Brooklyn Greenway Milestone: City Announces Full Implementation Plan

A cross-section envisioned at one point along the greenway. Image: NYC DOT

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway started out as a glimmer in the eyes of a few dedicated volunteers 14 years ago. Now it’s a comprehensive city plan to build out a ribbon of parkland from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

At the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s annual benefit yesterday, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the release of an implementation plan for the full 14-mile greenway, which will serve as the backbone for car-free biking and walking along the borough’s waterfront. The plan consists of 23 segments that can be fed into the city’s capital construction pipeline.

“This document marks both the end of the planning stage and the start of a new era,” Sadik-Khan said in a statement today.

The backstory of the greenway could some day form a textbook for grassroots livable streets activism. The founders of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative — Meg Fellerath, Brian McCormick, and Milton Puryear — hatched the idea in 1998. In 2005 their vision took a huge leap forward, when Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez secured a $14 million federal grant for the project. Following NYC DOT’s 2008 decision to adopt the greenway as official policy, the city’s planning and outreach accelerated, with BGI, DOT, and the Regional Plan Association organizing dozens of public workshops over the past few years to map out the greenway route. “Every step in the process was open and transparent and gave people an opportunity to express their ideas,” said Velazquez last night.

After a day when Republicans in Congress renewed their efforts to eviscerate and belittle programs for biking and walking, Velazquez framed the greenway project as a smart transportation investment. “It’s not only about providing public access, but connecting communities along the waterfront,” she said. “That is providing transportation options, so you can walk or bike, and burn some of those calories.”

Kent Avenue before and after DOT added a two-way protected bike lane as an interim greenway treatment. Photos: NYC DOT

In recent years, DOT has implemented five miles of preliminary segments like the Kent Avenue bike lane, which will be upgraded as the greenway is built out. Those stretches are heavily used already, showing the intense demand for the greenway. “That is the spark,” Sadik-Khan said of the sections along the greenway footprint that have been repurposed so far. “People are already using it,” including, she noted, Velazquez’s 90-year-old mother.

The document released today includes the final route of the greenway and outlines a plan to build it and options to fund it. The first capital projects, according to DOT’s announcement, will consist of the “upcoming construction of permanent protected paths on West, Flushing and Van Brunt streets.”

  • Can’t decide whether it’s optimistic or delusional.

    Maybe we can get velodrome guy to kick in for the Red Hook / Sunset Park improvements? I wouldn’t take a car on some of those roads…

  • Miles Bader

    Hmm, perhaps what we need is a program to eviscerate and belittle Republicans in Congress…?

  • Anonymous

    I am 100% pro bike lane. However, have you biked down Kent lately? Bicycle infrastructure needs to partner with bicycle education. Bike lanes work well when not clogged with pedestrians, ebikes etc.

  • Anonymous

    I think it looks amazing. I am glad they are aiming high.

  • Ben Kintisch

    This is the kind of long-term improvement to our city that makes me want to stay for many years to come.

  • fj

    Might want to nickname this wonderful bike route Sunset Strip with its Manhattan skyline backdrop while it passes near this country’s largest film stages and number 77 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

  • The improvement looks safer and better now.

  • J

    These plans look great for the most part. However, I have some strong concerns about putting cyclists on the sidewalk, either sharing space with pedestrians or occupying space at the same level as pedestrians. This can work in areas with wide sidewalks, low pedestrian volumes, and smooth, straight, wide bike paths. However, few of the proposals qualify. The Flushing Ave section is a great example of bad design. At present, Flushing Ave has 16′ of space for cyclists (two 5′ bike lanes and two 3′ buffers) and a 12′ sidewalk on the north curb pedestrians. Amazingly, for $7.5 million, cyclist are squished into 8′ of space and pedestrians into a 4-10′ sidewalk. I really don’t understand the logic. Driving space will be EXPANDED, adding a center median lane and widening the parking lane. Do we really need a center turn lane even though none exists at present? Do we really need a 13′ wide parking lane on the south side of the street? Why not use that space to construct a high-quality bike path, instead of this mediocre bike path? The proposed space is narrow for bikes, narrow for pedestrians, and as a result will not serve either very well, even though they will be protected. It also makes widening the bike path for increased volumes in the future very difficult. Not a very good design, and certainly not worth the $7.5 Million price tag.

  • Tom372

    When is the projected finish date?

    This is only serious when that question is answered, and the funds are set aside.

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