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.

  • Brian Howald

    Barriers of some sort, even if it’s more densely placed flexible delineators are needed to protect the S/B lane.

    If you have space for a painted buffer, why can’t you put some sort of physical separation?

    But, as for the N/B lane, it should be great! Just need to watch out for B57 and B62 buses.

  • BrandonWC

    The answer is always street cleaning. DSNY requires 11′ curb-side clearance for street sweepers and plows. I’m assuming that DOT will add overnight restrictions to clear the parking lane so the street can be cleaned.

  • BrandonWC

    Well this is much less ambitious than I hoped. With just a two-foot buffer, the door zone will extend into the “protected” lane. A 5′ bike lane is going to feel like a cattle shoot during the morning rush.

  • BrandonWC

    But you’re totally right that the placard class is going to find a way to block the lane…

  • Mike

    Definitely a step in the right direction. Anybody know if there are plans for similar changes for the Brooklyn Bridge approach one block over on Boerum/Adams? Parts of that bike lane are a parking lot in the morning.

  • r

    I’m curious to see what happens at Tillary and Jay. This morning I was at the light with about 12 other cyclists and it wasn’t even that nice out. I’d hate to imagine what would happen on a sunny day. 20 or 30 cyclists queued up in a long line? Kinda defeats the point…

    The other issue is that if you’re riding in that chute and just one driver chooses to park against the curb, you’re stuck. DOT needs to put up some more robust protection here. Plastic delineators would help.

  • Jeff

    I worry that many cyclists simply won’t use it, because it won’t feel safe. I, personally, would feel much safer in the general purpose lanes where I have better sight lines and room to maneuver and react to obstacles. In fact the only reason I actually WILL use this lane is because if I’m on Jay St I’m usually on my way to a TA meeting, and I’d feel guilty not taking advantage of a hard-fought (albeit imperfect) victory!

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Yes. Adams St is tied together with a full reconstruction of that street, along with Tillary St, Cadman Plaza East, and a revamp of the Brooklyn Bridge entrance. No tentative dates.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/brooklynbr_gateway.shtml

  • BBnet3000

    Guaranteed to be totally inadequate for rush hour volumes.

    I’d prefer the center running 2-way lane advocates were touting last year as at least that would be wide enough if people used the opposing direction for overtaking.

    Users of this are going to back up a lot during rush hour in this single file lane, and many won’t use it at all.

  • BBnet3000

    What an awful plan that is compared to making the service roads local traffic only “bike streets”. The inconvenient and/or dangerous need to switch from the side to the middle at Johnson Street is fast becoming a hallmark of cycling in this city. If you want to go to the Manhattan Bridge instead of the Brooklyn Bridge you have to switch sides a second time!

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    Im excited about the protected bike land but concerned about peds walking into it (like 8th ave in midtown).

    I cant attend tonight but looking forward to the outcome. I wish that they would have went with the 2 way center bike lane. I think that would have worked out better. Perhaps someone can suggest it tonight?

  • multimodal

    God I wish I could be there. I’ve said before, this will make such a difference in my daily quality of life – but only if it’s done right. This sounds inadequate even talking about current levels of cycling, much less if it keeps going up.

  • Geck

    I disagree. Sure eliminating all traffic from the service road would be nice, but short of that a protected center lane looks great. Lots of folks already switch to the center at Johnson St. And I find the center is the best way to avoid conflicts in accessing the Brooklyn Bridge. Making that official with a protected lane is a massive improvement. If you are going to the Manhattan Bridge, you just stay in the buffered bike lane on the right (no switching back an forth at all).

  • Alexander Vucelic

    If DOT Counts are 2,400 in 12 Hours; that means actually are closer to 4,000 with peak hour at 700.

    A Five foot Lane plus 3′ buffer will not be adequate. Have the cajones to Remove One lane of Car storage and then it’s 8′ bike Lane and 4′ buffer both sides.

  • BBnet3000

    If the center is the best place to be due to the bridge (the same is true on Delancey Street in Manhattan), put the bike lane in the center for more than the last short distance.

  • BrandonWC

    Two-foot buffer!

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Agreed on that.

  • J

    Heavy bike, ped, and bus traffic makes this street a no-brainer for restricting car traffic and parking and creating the highest quality of bike and bus infrastructure. Sadly, it seems that DOT is still rather hesitant to effectively prioritize bicycles and buses.

  • N_Gorski

    Yep–I’d love to see the Williamsburg Bridge access extend down the middle of Delancey extend to Bowery (or better yet, somehow, Lafayette).

  • JudenChino

    They should ban all private car parking on Jay Street and limit it to commercial deliveries.

  • BBnet3000

    Seriously. The parking doesn’t protect this lane, it destroys it.

  • red_greenlight1

    It will be full of peds. There is a reason I call 8th ave bloody 8th.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    I see what you’re saying at Johnson Street. Going back, the only reason I can think the DOT did that was because that was the limit of the project area. A revised plan should be created to include up to at least Boerum Pl + Atlantic Av, keeping the configuration constant throughout.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    dude – really ? 2ft.

    are They Joking ?

  • Mike

    Thanks.

  • Mike

    Queued up in a long line is exactly what cyclists should do in most situations.

  • Enforcement would help, also. Have a cop standing there ordering encroaching drivers to move their cars out of the bike lane, and writing tickets on cars which have been left in the lane.

  • sloperider

    Based on what this rendering shows, buses will be crossing the bike lane for stops and cars will be turning blind across parked cars and the bike lanes to enter garage driveways. Is that correct?

    If so, no thanks. I’ll just ride in the travel lane where it’s safer.

    Like one commenter suggested, there’s enough bus and bike traffic through here to justify removing one side of parking which would free up space to do a much better design.

  • “moving the double-parking out of the bike facilities”, while this sounds like a good thing to me, I have to ask, I thought double parking was illegal. Shouldn’t it be “ending double parking through enforcement”….I don’t understand why this is tolerated. Honestly, what about that “broken window” enforcement that was happening a while back. Or was that only certain ….. types….of windows?

  • mattkime

    maybe someday we’ll understand why the nypd just-don’t-care but for now we just need to accept it.

  • Parking placard abuse was a huge topic of discussion at the meeting today. One can certainly be sure that these lanes will be protected at all times because the spots will be occupied by placard vehicles at all times. I’m sure this is old news to local residents, but I walked up Smith street today between Bergen and Atlantic and almost every single vehicle parked on both sides had placards. One can only wonder what the design opportunities for Jay street could be if we were to refuse to allow our streets to be used as long term parking lots for government employees.

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    No we don’t. That’s the opposite of what we should do. It’s our duty as citizens to push back on bad policy, the alternative is things never changing or getting worse.

  • mattkime

    I completely agree, i just don’t know how to change the nypd when they don’t want to. if you know, please share.

  • BrandonWC

    “Highlights” from DOT presentation. Committee approved plan for Jay between York and Prospect (which is legitimately great) and the south-bound lane from Sands to Fulton and the north-bound lane from Fulton up to (but not including) the Manhattan Bridge off ramp.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    thinking only the ‘interested but concerned’ will use the Green Lane, Strong and Fearless + enthused and confident will be taking the lane.

    making If comfortable for the interested but concerned is okay.

    peak volume Is 34% of roadway traffic, cyclists already own Jay Street. Motorists haven’t got the Memo yet

  • J

    It’s amazing how far NYC mayors and officials will bend to avoid addressing placard abuse and other corruption within the government.

  • BBnet3000

    Enforcement isn’t coming. We can end double parking in many locations (such as Lafayette Ave) through design, but instead we are designing bike facilities to enable double parking in them.

  • BBnet3000

    No, it’s not. A good facility for this volume of cycle traffic should not force everyone into single file. And it definitely shouldn’t expose people to the risk of dooring.

  • AnoNYC

    s this the city’s first either curbside parking protected bike lane on a two-way street?

    They are usually two-way protected bicycle lanes on either side.

  • AnoNYC

    Floating bus bulbs? As for the driveways, how busy are they along this stretch?

  • Boeings+Bikes

    NYPD does not share our interests in safer, more efficient streets. They support criminal activity, as long as they are the criminals.

  • Daniel

    Getting doored in a curbside lane is generally not fatal. Unlike a moving lane adjacent bicycle lane there is no threat of subsequently getting run over. AFAIK It is the part where the person is run over that is responsible for the vast majority of dooring fatalities.

  • Mike

    I find cyclists weaving past me while I’m riding to be incredibly worrisome — single file behavior eliminates that, though I can see how it would irritate the impatient. Also, with two feet of buffer and five feet of lane, one can ride five or six feet from a car without much trouble. At that range, even a DeLorean would have trouble dooring somebody.

  • BBnet3000

    At least one of them is very busy and people pulling out of it in the afternoon frequently block the existing lane, yet the green bike path isn’t even green across the driveways in this proposal.

  • Brian Howald

    The street cleaning width slipped my mind. My bad.

    However, I think while everyone, including CB2, clearly understands the extent of placard abuse in Downtown Brooklyn, everyone seems to ignore the fact that it doesn’t take a placard or official business for the 84th Precinct to decide not to ticket you.

  • mfs

    This is generally good and they should do it, but I’m unsure it will make the three key pinch points any better – the bus stop at Myrtle promenade where double parking is rampant, the northbound crossing over the Manhattan Bridge exit (I’m dubious DOT will install a stoplight there since they didn’t commit to that), and Tillary where left turning vehicles often turn blindly into the bike “lanes” and crosswalks.

  • BBnet3000

    I have higher hopes for Jay Street and cycling in New York than “I got doored, but I didn’t die”. Make sure you wear your foam protective hat.

  • r

    Nope. It’s best practice to allow cyclists to group together at a light so that as many of them as possible are in front of car traffic when the light changes.

    Even in places where that’s not possible, you at least want people to be able to wait two or three abreast, and not single file.

    To be clear: you don’t want people to shoal, but that’s different from what a good design would allow.

    Bikes are efficient space savers. If you make cyclists line up single file, you eliminate that advantage.

  • Gotta love that in the DOT’s mockup, there’s a transportation officer issuing a ticket… on Jay Street, of all places. But of course this happens in the fantasy world that also includes a protected bike lane through the MetroTech region.

  • Mike

    The problem with that big group is that it reintegrates poorly after crossing the street when the light changes.

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