Sneak Preview: The Jay Street Protected Bike Lane

DOT will present its proposal for protected bike lanes on Jay and Smith Streets in downtown Brooklyn to tonight's CB 2 transportation committee meeting. Image: DOT
Image: DOT

Tonight, DOT will present plans for a protected bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee. DOT shared this rendering of the redesign with Streetsblog this afternoon.

Jay Street is an essential connection for bike commuters traveling over the Manhattan Bridge, but it’s chaos during rush hour, when cyclists must weave around a slalom course of double-parked vehicles and car and bus traffic.

Sean Quinn, DOT’s senior director for bicycle and pedestrian programs, told Streetsblog that the redesign has taken on greater urgency as the number of people biking on Jay Street has increased. DOT counts show 2,400 cyclists on the corridor in a 12-hour period. During rush hour, bikes make up 34 percent of the vehicles on Jay Street.

Once this project and its Manhattan counterpart on Chrystie Street are implemented, there will be four miles of continuous protected bike infrastructure from Midtown Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn.

The DOT plan calls for parking-protected bike lanes on both sides of Jay Street between Sands Street and Fulton Street. For the most part, there will be five-foot bike lanes by the curb protected from motor vehicle traffic by parked cars with a two-foot painted buffer. The bikeways are narrower than typical protected bike lanes in NYC, which usually have at least a three-foot buffer and six-foot bike lane. South of Fulton, where Jay Street becomes Smith Street, there will be less protection, though we don’t have the specifics on that section yet.

DOT is working with the MTA to finalize designs for the bus stops along the route, but according to Quinn they will most likely be zones where bus and bike traffic merges. The above rendering shows the design of one particular bus stop, on the left side of the street, which is also a bus layover area.

“We had to take a lot of things into account — mainly the heavy number of buses moving north and south on the corridor,” Quinn said. “If the street was a bit wider, we could possibly have done something a little more creative with the bike lanes on one side or the other, but because of the width we have and the frequency of the buses, we came upon this design — which we think is really good — to keep the lanes clear for the majority of the corridor, moving the double-parking out of the bike facilities and accommodating bikes and buses at the bus stop locations.”

You can speak up at DOT’s presentation tonight at the CB 2 transportation committee meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at Long Island University’s Jonas Board Room, at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb.

  • Mass firings. Change will come, whether it is the kind of change you want or not is impossible to determine, but change will come.

  • Joe R.

    It’s best practice to avoid traffic signals on bike lanes altogether, other than when they’re used to give bikes priority over motor traffic via bike sensors. Of course, it’s better if people can wait two or three abreast at lights than single file but in general it’s a bad idea to have lights in places where there’s enough bike traffic that you’ll end up with a long line. By the time the line starts moving, the cyclists at the end might get caught at another light cycle.

  • Joe R.

    You’re basically saying then that bike paths shouldn’t have enough room for passing because it bothers you personally when you’re passed? Every nation with good bike infrastructure allows room for passing. If not, then everyone is forced to ride at the speed of the slowest cyclist. I don’t see how that’s possibly good if the goal is to encourage riding for general transportation.

  • Mike

    I’m saying I’m fine with some bike lanes being too narrow for passing. Just like some streets are too narrow for cars passing. Even in Amsterdam there are lanes that are too thin for passing — the locals ride single file in such places, and they don’t form a giant crowded mess at intersections.

  • Joe R.

    Obviously there will be spots where the space just doesn’t exist for a bike lane with enough room for safe passing. That’s probably true on a number of streets in lower Manhattan. That said, narrow lanes should be the exception rather than the rule. And they shouldn’t exist in places where high volumes of cyclists are expected. If a street on a popular cycling route is too narrow for both a car lane and a bike lane with room for passing, then it might make sense to just make that street bikes only.

    A real concern is when the narrow lane continues for quite a few blocks. A block with no room for passing isn’t that big a deal, even for someone like me, provided there isn’t a traffic signal on that block. I can wait a few seconds until the next block to pass. However, it is a major problem is the lane is too narrow for its entirety, or if there’s a traffic signal. NYC in general has the room for decent bike lanes. We just don’t seem to have the political will to build that many of them. It seems for every great project there’s 25 or 30 mediocre ones.

  • ahwr

    Jay street has more people in buses than on bikes. That’s likely to remain true for the foreseeable future. The ‘car’ lanes are used by buses too.

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