DOT Opens Greenpoint Ave Bridge Bike Lanes — Now With Flex-Posts

Cyclists, led by DOT Assistant Commissioner Ryan Russo, ride over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo leads the pack over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

DOT staff led a celebratory ride on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek this morning to mark the completion of new bike lanes between Brooklyn and Queens.

The lanes provide safer passage on what had been a nerve-wracking crossing next to fast-moving traffic and lots of trucks. The project was first proposed in 2010 and revived earlier this year in a modified plan that called for curbside buffered bike lanes. Cyclists this morning discovered the final project has an extra bit of protection from traffic on the bridge: DOT has added plastic bollards to keep drivers out of the bikeway.

The plastic bollards continue even when the bike lane buffer disappears. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
The plastic bollards continue where the buffer tapers away at the ends of the bridge. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

On the Brooklyn side, the bridge connects to reconfigured bike lanes on Greenpoint Avenue. On the Queens side, sharrows are being added as part of a separate project.

Now, attention shifts to the other bike project linking Brooklyn and Queens: the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. The early stages of construction have begun on that project, which involves more heavy-duty roadwork than the Greenpoint Avenue bike lanes. It’s set to open by the end of this year.

  • BBnet3000

    The use of flex-posts is a huge relief. Lets hope this isn’t a one-off.

  • Flex-posts flex when hit by cars, which does nothing to disincentivise motorists from running them over, as we can see from the destroyed flex-posts at west-bound Borinquen Place in Brooklyn where the street goes over the BQE, and at the northeast corner of John and Water Streets in Manhattan. So flex-posts are really just a visual barrier, in the end no different to a painted line.

    Anyway, I am not really complaining! No doubt this bridge is improved (I will check it out today, I think); and the other spots I mentioned used to be worse than they are now. I just don’t see the reason to call the use of flex-posts a “huge relief”. The painted green lane seems like the big deal here; the presence or absence of flex-posts is not that important in comparison.

  • I think they make a huge difference. They don’t stop a speeding driver from careening into the bike lane, nor do they stop the most determined bike-lane-blocking drivers, but they do make a difference in discouraging more casual – but often very frequent – encroachment into the bike lane.

    That’s certainly been my experience on Kent Avenue. Sure, you still get some big trucks who roll right over the flex posts, but there are far fewer livery drivers and others sitting in the bike lane these days.

    Thanks, DOT! This is a smart move.

  • Simon Phearson

    While I appreciate the thought behind flex-posts, riding around the city, they tend to mean one thing, in my experience: gravel. Gravel, glass, broken windshield wipers, etc.

  • JK

    Cheers! Been a long-time coming. Should give a big boost to cycling here, especially on Queens side. Nabes on both sides have scale and street mix to be some of busiest biking places in NYC. Be nice if DOT did high quality signs and lanes from GP Bridge to Silver Cup, LaGuardia College and QBB to help cyclists navigate QBB vortex.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    the flex-post addition os huge. Yes, it’s cheap infrastructure and will get destroyed but they’re much easier to replace than the year long process it takes to repaint faded paint on the ground. they also perhaps serve as blueprint for a future jersey barrier or planters etc. Big thanks to DOT for adding them to what would otherwise simply be another strip of paint drivers could too easily ignore.

  • Here’s something to chew on: Should a flex-post lane qualify as a “protected” lane?

    I’m with the camp that says flex-posts are a big step up from having no vertical elements. But I think DOT is overstating the benefits by calling this design a protected bike lane in today’s press release. Curbs, Jersey barriers, and parked cars are protection. Flex-posts are something else.

  • Mark Walker

    Given the placement of the posts in a buffer area used by neither cyclists or motorists, I’ve also wondered why DOT didn’t go for bollards with real car-stopping power. A rubber post is about as much protection as a wet noodle. Cyclists (and pedestrians, like myself) deserve better protection.

  • Protected is way too strong. If you wouldn’t let your kids ride in it on their own bikes without fear of them getting crushed by a reckless driver, it’s not protected. A plastic post is more like an enhanced indicator, to use the most awkward term I can imagine.

    DOT shouldn’t count this toward its protected bike lane goals. I think the designs we have on 8th and 9th Ave, PPW, or the part of Flushing with the Jersey barriers should be the benchmark.

  • SSkate

    I have my doubts about the flex-posts also. As a particular example, I’m thinking of the posts along the Kent Ave bikelane by the navy yard. Many have been destroyed, and have been gone for so long that one wonders if DOT has any intention of replacing them.

  • Joe R.

    Other than to save money is there any good reason they’re not using jersey barriers here? I’m thinking of the parts of the Belt Parkway Greenway adjacent to the highway. Without the jersey barriers there I wouldn’t feel protected at all. Granted, the vehicles here aren’t traveling at highway speed, but a little piece of plastic isn’t protection in my book.

  • It’s a drawbridge.

  • Joe R.

    I guess then they could use steel and concrete bollards attached to the road surface. Or perhaps a rail similar to the type used on the sides of the bridge.

  • Jeff

    The challenge of the drawbridge is that the opening mechanism (specifically the counterweight) is specifically designed for the roadway to have a known weight. That’s why the Pulaski Bridge bike path buildout is taking so long.

  • BBnet3000

    The American camp that wants jersey barriers in front of every bike lane needs to look at separated lanes in bike-friendly places.

    Most of them aren’t hidden behind parked cars and aren’t physically protected by much more than a curb, often half as high as a sidewalk curb.

    We need to keep people from parking in them but the idea that every driver is a deranged maniac who will kill people on bikes if there aren’t HESCO bastions in front of every bike lane is wrong.

  • Joe R.

    So in other words they would have two choices here. One, increase the counterweight to compensate for any weight bollards or a fence might add. Two, reduce the weight of the bridge elsewhere by as much as the fence or bollards weigh.

  • Joe R.

    I think the problem here is you have enough outliers to justify protection. Indeed, look at how many pedestrians get killed on sidewalks despite having the protection of a row of parked cars.

    It would help a lot if we added physical traffic calming elements to streets. It would help even more if most of the types of motor vehicles driven in cities were designed as such. That would mean mostly the size of a police scooter, battery powered, and with a top speed no more than maybe 50 mph (adequate to use on the city’s highways). We don’t need 3-ton SUVs with enough power to hit 60 mph in a few seconds. In fact, I’m seeing few instances where vehicles that size are justified at all anywhere in the US. I’m seeing no instance where that kind of power-to-weight ratio is justified other than on a race track. In a word, the danger on city streets comes because the vast majority of vehicles driven on them are oversized and overpowered for the task of urban transportation.

  • I have ridden this bridge some over the years but of course prefer the Pulaski. That said, I am fine with this step. It is far better than nothing. It is far better than the simple painted lines we had. It is far better than just painting it green. The flex posts make a big difference. For the first time in history riding on its roadbed feels okay. Not wonderful, but okay. The traffic is slower and more predictable. But damn those trucks are still noisy and the bridge does bounce!!

    This is an area dominated by industry and they need to transport the goods that make our lives better. LOTS of trucks and big tonnage vehicles. For now this is the best we can do. I think people that have a choice will go to Pulaski when finished. Others that are braver or don’t want to take the extra time will use Greenpoint Avenue. Would I want my future 8 year old riding over this alone? Probably not. Would I let him ride over it with me? Yes.

  • BBnet3000

    Coming down the 2nd Ave “protected lane” the other day I noticed that at 14th St there are plastic delineators between the turn lane and the straight general use lanes, but the turn lane is sandwiched with the very narrow bike lane (which has a split-phase signal).

    I just don’t understand how the bike program puts out such poor designs. I worry that it is because our advocates are primarily political in orientation and don’t really care about design. What you see here constitutes a victory in that mindset. To me it’s snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Joe R.

    I hate to say this but I think too many advocates suffer from Stockholm syndrome. They’re so used to having bike projects scrapped that they’ll cheer literally any project which even meekly does something for bikes. They also fear being overly critical of bad bike infrastructure for fear of hearing the usual chorus of voices. That would be the CB leaders and vocal citizens saying you’re lucky to get even this because (take your pick):

    a) Doing any more would have meant losing parking spots or travel lanes.

    b) We have no more money for your bike play pens with the shortage of money for schools or other “more essential” things.

    c) Cyclists don’t deserve any better until they start following the laws.

    d) Bikes are a tiny mode share and don’t merit the same projects as cars do.

    It seems to me nearly every bike project in this city ends up being half-assed to either save money or avoid losing precious parking spots.

    I also should mention most of those in charge are utterly clueless when it comes to the needs of cyclists, including apparently many at NYC DOT. The best example here is Central Park. We finally won the fight to make a large part of the loop car free permanently. And then we start hearing the traffic signals will stay. I was like WTF? Wasn’t much of the reason for making the loop car-free in the first place exactly so we could get rid of those traffic signals which have ended up being nothing more than yet another means for the NYPD to ticket cyclists just to fulfill their quotas? Why aren’t our cycling advocates putting the pressure on to get rid every traffic signal on the loop north of 72nd street right now (and to eventually put in bridges for the most heavily used pedestrian crossings)? This is why we have cycling advocacy groups—to advocate for major changes benefiting cyclists, not to kiss behinds when they get a few scraps from the king’s table.

  • Mr Cogsworth

    This is great! Eager to see how the bike lanes fare on the Brooklyn side, once you get off the bridge. Previously, the bike lane was used as a travel/passing lane to get around cars waiting to turn left onto Humboldt, and was pretty sketchy. I hope the new green paint (and bollards?) makes that less tempting for drivers.

  • J

    It’s a question of speed. Higher speed -> more intense protection. Heavy double parking -> more intense protection.

    On a bridge like this, where the speed limit is unenforced and vehicle speeds regularly exceed 45mph, more intense protection is necessary.

  • actor212

    This is welcome news to those of us who tire of dodging marathon runners training for the NYC. Now, if they could just repair the LIC feeder streets to Vernon Blvd, that would be great.

  • Adam Anon

    Except that nobody replaces them when they get damaged.

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