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 basic elements of this design were hashed out a few years ago, when DOT first presented concept plans for Flushing. To maintain two-way bus service on Flushing and provide left-turn bays for trucks accessing the Navy Yard, the planned bikeway was narrowed by two feet. Instead of a ten-foot-wide bikeway, the project calls for an eight-foot-wide bikeway — as wide as the Prospect Park West bike lane but only half as wide as the most comfortable parts of the Hudson River Greenway. That could pose problems in the years ahead as bike traffic grows.
The city has made a few design adjustments since presenting the outline of this plan in 2010. One is to move the bikeway so it doesn’t directly abut the Navy Yard, which means people won’t have to bike right next to a wall or fence. The bus stops along the north side of Flushing will function as shared space, where the bikeway points cyclists to curve around waiting bus passengers (see the background of the top rendering to get a sense of this). The road markings will also maintain an eastbound, painted bike lane, which will be a more convenient option for cyclists continuing east on Flushing past the Navy Yard and the BQE, and may help relieve future crowding on the greenway segment.
In a new arrangement, DOT will seek a maintenance partner to care for the plantings and upkeep of the greenway. The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative — the grassroots advocacy organization that has propelled the vision for a continuous waterfront greenway — has indicated that it intends to take on maintenance and adopt the entire greenway.
Brooklyn Community Board 2 passed a resolution supporting the project earlier this month, 29-0 with two abstentions. The plan now heads to the Public Design Commission for review, and is slated to be built by the Department of Design and Construction starting next fall.