Here’s What’s Next for the Flushing Ave Segment of the Brooklyn Greenway

Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

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 Flushing Avenue greenway segment will add an eight-foot-wide, two-way bikeway at sidewalk grade and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by about 20 percent. Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

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.

Flushing Avenue at Vanderbilt Avenue. Image: NYC DOT/DDC/Parsons

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.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Why keep the class 2 lane in the eastbound direction? Wouldn’t removing it allow for a better, wider, fully protected lane on the north side?

  • JBS

    Looks very Montreal, except for the class 2 lane on the other side.

  • I don’t think so, because the real constraint comes from the left-turn bays for Navy Yard trucks. The south side bike lane is carved from leftover space where there is no turn bay. It turns into a stencil at intersections with turn bays.

  • M to the I

    Where do cyclists stop to wait to make a turn off of the bikeway? In the pedestrian crosswalk or buffer area? I’m sure that there will be lots of cyclists turning onto Vanderbilt and Washington from both directions. There needs to be a waiting area for turning bicycles, especially at those streets. I hope that they have thought about that in their full design.

  • Jeff

    This could be as perfect as it gets if the bikeway were at the same grade as the street but separated by a planted median strip. The closest thing we have to this design as proposed I believe is the Queens Plaza bikeway, and while pedestrian incursions don’t make it a deal-breaker (due to relatively low pedestrian volumes in the area), you still have to cycle at “shared space” speeds.

  • Reader

    And will there be bike-specific signals? Without them there could be some confusion as to when cyclists are supposed to make their turns across Flushing. Do they do it when there are gaps in the east-west traffic or do they wait for the north-south signal to change?

    It’s a great plan overall, but appears to be more functional for the recreational Greenway user or Williamsburg-to-Manhattan Bridge commuter and not as well thought out for those who access Flushing Ave via Fort Greene. (And vice versa.)

  • Bolwerk

    What incursions? Bus riders?

  • J

    8′ is quite narrow, and I’m not wild about the “shared space” at bus stops. It just seems like a means of ignoring an obvious problem. Instead of getting rid of some modestly-used parking on the south side of the street to accommodate both bus stops AND a bikeway, we get this half-baked solution that basically eliminates the bikeway to maintain parking. Awesome. There’s a reason you can barely see it in any of the renderings: it will suck. Oh well. It’ll just mean more bike-ped conflict.

    That said, this is certainly a step up from the existing configuration. I guess I just get extra pissed when bad decisions get put into concrete where they are much much harder to modify. This could have been world-class, but it’s not. It’s pretty good.

  • Danny G

    Pretty good is still pretty good!

    Hopefully they’re doing the drainage and locating the underground stuff in such a way that they can tweak it at a later time, should it become necessary. This isn’t the first time Flushing Avenue is being redesigned, and it won’t be the last.

  • Anonymous

    Re bike specific signals: if there are none except for intersections that cross through into the Navy Yard, then one of NYPD’s favorite gotcha ticket traps will be removed. Too bad!

  • Reader

    Short term, that’s great. But long term, especially as area gets developed and bike/ped traffic increases there needs to be slightly more signalization to tell people what to expect and do.

  • J

    Hopefully, but that would require some very intelligent planning. Given this design, I’m not holding my breath.

  • Frodo_Boolbool

    And where will the piggies wait to ticket every cyclist, swerving into the bike lines and endangering other bikers to do so? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • J

    Yeah, the bike path basically ends before you get to the bus stop then picks up afterwards. The space in between is “shared” between bus riders and bicyclists. The could work with low bus ridership or low greenway use. However, a smart plan would be designed to accommodate significant growth in both.

  • Joe

    Time to go back to riding on Myrtle Ave. each morning and Park Ave. in the evenings.

  • svente

    Why?

  • Max Power

    I love the sharrows in the last illustration: “Cyclists must ride in door zone”
    I look forward to choosing between getting doored or harassed by cops.

  • Anonymous

    I think you are intended to merge into the motor vehicle lane prior to making a turn, and turn from there. I could be wrong. And it is not optimal, as you have to merge into faster moving vehicular traffic with drivers that may not be expecting a biker to enter the lane.

  • Ben Kintisch

    This looks like a beautiful extension of the waterfront greenway, and yes, it soon will be filled with more and more cyclists. Each time we see a new protected greenway design, it becomes less “experimental” and more part of the new normal for biking in the city. Look at that whole road bed and notice how much of the route is designed for biking. A major improvement for now – and yes, still always room to improve further.

  • Anonymous

    Flushing is very fast for bikes in its current configuration. (And almost certainly less so in this proposal, especially westbound)

  • Anonymous

    I’ll definitely keep using the class 2 eastbound lane on the right side. Especially when there’s a tailwind.

  • Dan

    There is also an eastbound protected lane. Which brings up the real question: two lanes for eastbound bikers?

  • Anonymous

    I stopped riding on Flushing long ago. The harassment by cops wasn’t worth it. I now weave through F Greene (parts on Myrtle) and get to the bridge just as easy, but without the stress.

  • Anonymous

    “harassment by cops”? Seriously? What “harassment by cops” on cyclists takes place on Flushing Avenue? I walk my dog along Flushing and I’ve never seen any of this so-called “harassment by cops”.

    However given the number of idiotic salmon along Flushing maybe there should be an increase in this non-existent “harassment by cops”.

  • Ian Turner
  • Anonymous

    Hardly harassment.

  • Anonymous

    Your anecdotal daily dog walk is a welcome contrary point to the various cases documented in Streetsblog, Gothamist and around the web! #KeeponTrollin

  • Anonymous

    I stand by my earlier comment. The Gothamist article posted by Ian below cites one ticket, ONE!, being given out by cops on Flushing Avenue. One ticket hardly constitutes “harassment by cops” when it comes to riding on Flushing Avenue.

    I take it then that you’ve stopped cycling completely in NYC due the widespread “harassment by cops” since the various cases documented in Streetsblog, Gothamist and around the web are from all over the Big Apple.

    Me? I’ll continue to get in my multiple daily walks of my dog and log my 5,000 annual miles on my two wheels. Enjoy!

  • BBnet3000

    Whats there now in paint is “pretty good”. When they are literally setting it in concrete it needs to be great.

    See Pike and Allen Street in Manhattan as an example of where the capital buildout went horribly wrong. The “temporary” parts with the painted buffer are vastly superior to the expensive capital constructed parts, because they are wide enough for faster cyclists to pass slower cyclists.

  • BBnet3000

    Why “shared space” (read: conflict space) bus stops rather than bus islands that the bike lane goes around?

    See basically every picture in this article: http://cycleto.ca/protected-bike-lanes/transit-pedestrians-drivers

    We are setting this design in concrete. Do not build the bus stops with cyclists going through pedestrian space!

  • Lane

    Wow seriously? only 4′ lanes? Meanwhile cars get grossly excessive 11′ lanes and a 5′ median (more space separating cars from each other than separating the two-way bike path from traffic AND wider than the the bike path lanes!)

  • kio

    Or remove parking wherever there is a left turn bay and have the cars swing right if they aren’t turning.

  • qrt145

    That’s no bike lane. It’s a dooring station.

  • stairbob

    Nah, there’s plenty of room there to ride away from doors.

  • Chris Nolte

    I just called the DOT this morning to follow up on this and it seems that the project is on hold due to problems with community board 4 (Bushwick). I’m interested to see if this will pick back up or it will just fall off. Admittedly I have a certain vested interest here as I’m opening a bike shop next month on Flushing between Vanderbuilt and Clermont. I’d love to hear from anyone that knows anything about this.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DOT Proposes Flushing Ave Bikeway in Prelude to Major Greenway Push

|
Image: 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 […]

Cyclists and Pedestrians Now Make Up a Huge Share of Flushing Ave Traffic

|
Biking has skyrocketed on Flushing Avenue by the Brooklyn Navy Yard since the installation of bike infrastructure in 2010, according to new counts released by the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. The route is slated for more biking and walking upgrades as the city builds out the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Cyclists and pedestrians comprised 25 percent of traffic […]

Eyes on the Street: Blast of Thermoplast on Flushing

|
John Del Signore at Gothamist got this shot of Flushing Avenue this morning. Looks like phase one of the Flushing bikeway is getting striped, creating a continuous link between North Brooklyn and the Manhattan Bridge. A refresher: The two-way, jersey barrier-separated path on Williamsburg Street West will extend to Washington Avenue on the north side […]