DUMBO Street Upgrades: Big Curb Expansions + Contraflow Bike Lane

DOT's proposal for DUMBO (left) includes expanded pedestrian space and a contraflow bike lane. Today, pedestrians have a long crossing on Jay Street (right). Images: DOT [PDF]
DOT’s proposal for DUMBO (left) includes expanded pedestrian space and a contraflow bike lane. Today, pedestrians have a long crossing on Jay Street (right). Click for larger view. Images: DOT [PDF]
DUMBO, where NYC DOT launched its public plaza program more than seven years ago, is set to get more pedestrian space as the city expands sidewalks and reworks oddly-shaped intersections beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The project also includes a contraflow bike lane to improve connections from DUMBO to the Manhattan Bridge, Jay Street, and Downtown Brooklyn [PDF].

The biggest change is coming to the intersection of Jay and Prospect Streets, one block from the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge bike path. Currently, pedestrians have to cross 80 feet of asphalt on the north side of the intersection, though half that distance is marked as off-limits to vehicles by white paint. DOT will replace this painted area with concrete, adding a chunk of pedestrian space and cutting the crossing to 27 feet. Curb extensions will also be added to the intersection’s northwest and southeast corners.

The project also includes a new bike connection. Currently, cyclists heading south from DUMBO to the Manhattan Bridge, Downtown Brooklyn, or the Sands Street bike path must take a long detour (or break the law) because Jay Street is one-way northbound between Prospect and York Street. The new design adds a contraflow bike lane on the west side of the block to eliminate that detour, while converting the existing northbound bike lane to sharrows.

This would be Brooklyn’s second contraflow bike lane; the other was installed in 2013 on Union Street in Gowanus.

Expanded pedestrian space is also coming to the intersection of Pearl and York Streets. Today, the location is an awkwardly-shaped triangle beneath the Manhattan Bridge with a 90-foot pedestrian crossing at York. DOT will add a concrete pedestrian island and painted pedestrian space on the intersection’s northeast corner, shortening the crossing distance to 35 feet.

More pedestrian space would also come to the intersection of York and Pearl Streets. Image: DOT [PDF]
Concrete and paint will narrow this pedestrian crossing at intersection of York and Pearl Streets. Image: DOT [PDF]
Other sidewalk improvements are coming to the intersection of Front and Pearl Streets and along the south side of York east of Washington Street, where a narrow, unwalkable curb currently runs along the brick wall holding up the BQE.

Another aspect of the plan to keep in mind the next time someone howls about a “war on cars”: It adds about 10 spaces to the neighborhood’s allotment of free, subsidized curbside parking.

The plan has already gone before Brooklyn Community Board 2’s transportation committee. DUMBO Improvement District director of marketing and events Kristin LaBuz attended the meeting, where the plan advanced to the full board in an 11-0 vote. “Though there is still much work to be done in the neighborhood,” she said, “we’re thrilled by DOT’s responsiveness to community concerns.”

Community Board 2’s next general board meeting, where a resolution supporting the plan is likely to be on the agenda, is scheduled for February 11 at 6 p.m.

Update: DOT says it plans to begin construction on the project in August, pending support from CB 2.

  • BBnet3000

    Clicked very excitedly to see NYC finally using a contraflow lane, but no delineators or curb and conflicts with parallel parking cars? How long until we’re expected to “take the lane” going against traffic? This is pretty much just legalized salmoning.

  • Reader

    Brooklyn has other contra-flow lanes. There’s one by Park Circle that leads people from Prospect Park to Ocean Parkway. Plaza Street has a two-way lane on a one-way (for drivers) street.

  • That doesnt look so great. Theyre removing an existing bike lane and making it a sharrow, and adding the contraflow lane.

    Why not remove one of the parking sides and make it a real 2-way bike path?

    Especially because the PDF shows them adding so many new parking spaces elsewhere.

  • J

    Good point!

  • J

    Legalized salmoning is the status quo in many European cities, providing direct routes for cyclists but not for cars. I literally picked the first one-way street I could find in Amsterdam. The sign translates to “do not enter, except bicycles”. It’s also a 30 kph (20mph) zone, with a narrow width to ensure that low speed. I should mention that this is much narrower than Jay St, but it also likely has a much lower volume of cars.


  • millerstephen

    Thanks Reader. This point was brought up on Twitter, but I’m sticking by the description since the Park Circle/Ocean Parkway connection and the Plaza Street lane are bidirectional unprotected lanes. (Also of note: Kent Avenue and PPW are both bidirectional, though protected.) Since the design for Jay Street is so much like the one implemented on Union Street, I’ll keep the “Brooklyn’s second contraflow bike lane” descriptor. https://twitter.com/psneighbors/status/560489668656246784

  • D’BlahZero

    “Why not remove one of the parking sides?” I’d say, you’re not from around here, but I’m guessing you are. This DOT *remove* parking for bike infrastructure, prolly not(tenberg).

  • Moncada’s Codpiece

    Everything is a war on cars, even with parking. How could one even get to the parking if they can’t cruise at highway speeds on city streets?

  • Ian Dutton

    I share your disappointment with the limited treatment, but it’s not at all legalized salmoning. The key threat with salmoning is that there simply isn’t room for a driver and bikes going in two directions, so someone gets the squeeze (and it’s never the driver who suffers the consequences). At least in this plan, the contraflow cyclist doesn’t take space out of the mix so no one gets squished. Still… looks like a prime place to use a more aggressive treatment, like a protected 2-way cycleway. #visionnotquitezero

  • D’BlahZero

    Navigating around drivers blocking the bike lane is bad enough when you have to merge into the flow of traffic to get around them. What are you supposed to do when your going contraflow and have to head into oncoming traffic to get around? (I’m presuming, of course, that the adjacent ’empty’ space in the drawing is for parking.)

  • Chris Mcnally

    I think this is great news, and I am impressed with the activism and initiative of the Dumbo BID. The contraflow bike lane is awkward and seems dangerous. Cars turning left onto Jay could be head on with Cyclists. We’ll see though, because I think everyone on a bike goes the wrong way on Jay, it’s wide enough and it’s just a crazy detour to go any other way. However there are no lights, not to mention crosswalks, when you cross Prospect on Jay. Peds do not seem to have any right of way and have to cross quickly whenever there are no cars coming. A stop sign could have been installed there. Was this addressed?

  • Chris Mcnally
  • C Batista

    The schematic is a bit obscure and complicated, as if it’s asking for a 3-d rendition.


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