After two years of back-and-forth with the local community board, a proposal to link the bike networks of Williamsburg and Ridgewood via the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge may finally be coming to fruition. DOT presented an updated version of the plan, which it first unveiled in June 2014, to Brooklyn Community Board 1 last night [PDF].
The Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a critical connection between Brooklyn and Queens over Newtown Creek. Currently there are only bike lanes to the west of the bridge, on Grand Street in East Williamsburg, not on the bridge itself, where cyclists have to contend with heavy truck traffic.
With two lanes in each direction, drivers on the bridge tend to go too fast. Two cyclists and one pedestrian were killed on or near the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT.
DOT plans to remove one westbound car lane to make room for bike lanes on both sides of the bridge. On the eastbound side of the bridge, the bike lane will have a painted buffer. On the westbound side, in an odd touch, there will be both sharrows and a curbside bike lane.
The bike lanes would extend a few blocks east of the bridge along Metropolitan to the Queens border at Onderdonk Avenue. The design presented to the board last year had the bike lanes giving way to sharrows between Varick Avenue and Onderdonk Avenue, but DOT Bicycle Program Director Hayes Lord said the agency decided to extend the lane until the road narrows at the intersection with Onderdonk.
There was no board discussion or vote on the plan last night, but four members of the public and Council Member Antonio Reynoso spoke mostly in favor. "I'm extremely supportive of the Metropolitan Avenue bike lane," said Reynoso. "It is important to make things safer, especially for bikers and vehicles."
At a City Council hearing in November, Reynoso accused DOT of delaying the project at the behest of CB 1 members, but last night he told Streetsblog that DOT subsequently told him the delays were due to the agency's desire to "make the project better" and connect it to future bike infrastructure improvements in Ridgewood.
DOT will present the plan again later this summer, followed by a vote by the full board.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, David fell in love with journalism as a kid accompanying his reporter dad on stories while school was out. A reporter at Streetsblog from 2015 to 2019, David returned as Streetsblog Deputy Editor in 2023 after a three-year stint at the New York Post. A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and the University of Maryland, he lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
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