DOT Planning Buffered Bike Lane on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene

DOT's proposal would replace left-lane sharrows with a buffer-protected bike lane. Image: DOT
DOT’s proposal would replace sharrows with a buffered bike lane. Image: DOT

DOT plans to install a buffered bike lane this summer on Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn between Fulton Street and Classon Avenue.

The project, which the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee voted for unanimously last night, calls for a five-foot bike lane protected by a three-foot buffer zone [PDF]. It will be an upgrade from the current shared lane design but won’t be physically protected.

The buffered lane will create a better connection for cyclists heading from downtown Brooklyn to Fort Greene and points east, a route with significant bike traffic. There were five severe traffic injuries on the corridor between 2010 and 2014, with drivers often meandering between the two travel lanes and driving well over the speed limit. Outside of rush hour, DOT observed 24 percent of drivers speeding.

A dedicated lane on Lafayette Avenue will help fill in gaps in the neighborhood's already extensive bike network. Image: DOT
A buffered lane on Lafayette Avenue will help fill a gap in the neighborhood bike network. Image: DOT

At the intersection with Cumberland Street, DOT plans to build out the sidewalk around an old tree that has grown so big as to render the existing sidewalk inaccessible for people with disabilities. When committee member Hilda Cohen asked why DOT isn’t planning sidewalk extensions around similar trees on the same block, both DOT and CB 2 chair John Dew expressed reluctance to cut curbside parking spaces on the corridor.

A number of attendees and committee members expressed interest in a parking-protected bike lane, but DOT said it doesn’t consider the street to be wide enough.

“If we did the curbside bike lane, the cross section would be very tight,” DOT’s Sean Quinn told the committee. “Where anyone wants to pull over, try to pull over and stop, or the bus didn’t pull to the curb, there’d be no room for cars to continue flowing down the street. There is space there, but the space wouldn’t be efficiently used for all users on the corridor.”

  • Jared R

    It’s about time! They do need plastic bollards to separate traffic. Those that use Lafayette to speed from downtown to Bed-Stuy will absolutely ignore the painted buffer. I’ve been clipped twice by speeders on Lafayette. While this doesn’t go far enough, it’s a good step in the right direction.

  • William Farrell

    “Where anyone wants to pull over, try to pull over and stop, or the bus didn’t pull to the curb, there’d be no room for cars to continue flowing down the street.”

    Of course when they say there will be room for cars to continue to flow down the street, what they mean is that motorists will be able to drive in the bike lane.

  • William Farrell

    They won’t put plastic bollards here because motorists would have to cross them in order to park. This is why it’s important to continue to push for a true protected bike lane along this corridor.

    I was nearly given the left hook from a driver nearby on Dekalb, even with that buffered bike lane. It’s better than the status quo to be sure, but it is far from ideal.

  • Jared R

    You’re right – I didn’t realize. Parking on both sides of the street on Lafayette is a severe impediment to safety here (and on Dekalb). Very dangerous indeed.

  • Is DOT’s Sean Quinn endorsing the bike lane as a passing lane?

  • bggb

    When committee member Hilda Cohen asked why DOT isn’t planning sidewalk
    extensions around similar trees on the same block, both DOT and CB 2
    chair John Dew expressed reluctance to cut curbside parking spaces on
    the corridor.

    Just an unbelievable set of priorities. I mean: it’s stunning.

  • Bernard Finucane

    The bike lanes should be between the parking and the sidewalk.

  • Bob

    non-protected lane on a street where the proposed plan clearly provides room for it. I simply do not understand what is going on. Bully for them re: upgrading at all, but I just do not get it

  • dave “paco” abraham

    In lieu of bollards, I’d be interested to see DOT put down some sort of mountable, armadillo type texture in the buffer that furthers tells cars to not drive there, but still allows slowing cars to cross it and park. Otherwise, this is an unprotected bike lane… and if the past few years are any indication, it means the paint will fade into oblivion, then not get re-stripped for a full year after that.

  • “There isn’t room to pull over”? There isn’t room in the proposed design either unless….oh…right….blocking the bike lane is part of the design.

  • J

    “Where anyone wants to pull over, try to pull over and stop, or the bus didn’t pull to the curb, there’d be no room for cars to continue flowing down the street.”

    Of course there’s ZERO thought given to the flow of cyclists down the street when someone in a car pulls over into the bicycle lane.

    We could provide for both continuous and safe car and bike movement by actually addressing curb usage. The current strategy of giving curb space away for free is broken and needs to be addressed through Residential Parking Permits, meters, etc. Sticking it to cyclists (DOT’s current plan) is not the answer.

  • J

    seems like it.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    better and safer allocation of 40′ roadway:

    9′ Paid Parking or short term paid loading
    10′ Motor lane
    9′ Paid Parking
    5′ Car door buffer
    7′ Cycling lane

    this would be using complete street template already existing

  • kevd

    Oh Good! A brand new double parking lane!

  • Reader

    Traffic flow and parking > people’s lives.

  • BBnet3000

    “Where anyone wants to pull over, try to pull over and stop, or the bus didn’t pull to the curb, there’d be no room for cars to continue flowing down the street.”

    Of course, people don’t stop in the middle of the road when it’s the only lane (except when its wide enough to double park and make people squeeze around).

  • Seth Rosenblum

    The only thing that’s changing is that DOT is establishing a uniform “this side is for double parking” rule Instead of the current slalom. Whatever, I’ll take it.

  • citizen

    What’s the point of a buffer if it invites encroachment by placing parking on the other side?

  • Accessibility for handicapped people takes a backseat to car storage. DOT should rethink this philosophy.

  • William Farrell

    I was actually thinking of bringing up the armadillo idea at the meeting, but I used my brief window of speaking time to call for a protected lane. Are there any examples of DOT using them in the city? Every time they’ve been brought up it’s always been shot down as a snow-plow issue.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    At the meeting I pointed out that the design appeared to me to be a mirror of the Lafayette in Manhattan – and the buffered bike lane design that was pioneered there in the 1990s, rather than the upgraded design with a protected lane that replaced the antiquated design in 2014/15.

    Maybe the way to read this design is that DOT is fully aware that NYPD has proven unable to stop lawbreaking behaviors of drivers, so the reality is that the design is reflective of the limitations of a lawless street.

  • Joe R.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t even understand how the concept of long-term car storage on public streets came to be acceptable. There’s no precedent in history for it. When we used horses, the horses and carriages went to the stable or barn at night. They didn’t sit on the streets overnight. It’s a waste of space plus resources to pave a lane just to store private property. Cars in cities never would have become as popular if we held the line on curbside parking. At best, the space by the curb should be a loading zone. If you’re doing anything besides loading or unloading passengers or cargo, you park the vehicle on private property off the street.

  • BBnet3000

    Isn’t that the wrong way around? A protected lane would be reflective of the fact that buffered lanes are blocked constantly.

    Yes, I am aware that protected lanes get blocked too, but in my experience this is quite rare.

  • kevd

    well, at the very least this could be a 1/2 step towards the new Manhattan Lafayette design.
    A) Start with a buffered double parking lane – which only requires paint.
    B) Eventually upgrade to a parking protected lane, which requires a tiny bit of construction (for islands at crosswalks and such)

  • That very well may be, but if that’s the case, DOT needs to design with NYPD’s attitude toward enforcement in mind. That means more protected bike lanes that can’t become double-parking lanes.

  • N_Gorski

    So this is mirroring the buffered bike lane on DeKalb (which the eastbound run of the B38 follows, coming back to Ridgewood on Lafayette). The DeKalb lane runs all the way from Myrtle to Flatbush Av. Why the hell is the Lafayette lane going to run barely a third of that distance?

  • Ben_Kintisch

    CB3 Bed stuy doesn’t want the lane to continue through their turf. So lots more cyclists will ride safely and then be dumped past Classon into a very unsafe biking situation. That’s how we roll in NYC!

  • N_Gorski

    I was afraid it was something like that. I’d say that DOT needs to stop consulting community boards on road issues, but I haven’t been in a choir since I was 13.

  • Wilfried84

    “Cars in cities never would have become as popular if we held the line on curbside parking.” Isn’t that precisely the point? They wanted to make cars popular, and explicitly at the expense of other road users. And that’s still the dominant paradigm, much as we try to change it.

  • MatthewEH

    New Urbanists would tell you that the parking lane does offer a sense of for pedestrians from the cars zipping by in the travel lanes.

    Probably wasn’t necessary when things were moving at slower horse-speeds.

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