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Antonio Reynoso

Reynoso Tells DOT: Grand Street Needs a Safer Bike Lane ASAP

Council Member Antonio Reynoso today urged DOT to upgrade the bike lanes on the Grand Street in North Brooklyn. The existing painted lanes did not protect Matthew von Ohlen, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in July.

Antonio Reynoso. Photo: NYC DOT

In a letter sent this afternoon to DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, Reynoso calls for "the immediate installation of safety mitigations along Borinquen Place/Grand Street from the BQE to the Metropolitan Ave Bridge."

Grand Street is an essential bike connection between the bridge and Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood. But its painted bike lanes are often blocked by double-parked cars and provide limited separation from the heavy truck traffic generated by nearby industrial areas.

Pointing to the impending L Train shutdown, which will disrupt trips for hundreds of thousands of subway riders, Reynoso says the local streets are poorly designed for current needs, let alone additional demands:

We should be making a plan now to best prioritize bus, bike, and pedestrian travel that gives community residents the opportunity to move safely and efficiently. Grand Street already serves as a main connector to and from Manhattan, yet the corridor is not equipped with adequate safety measures to accommodate the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists who use the street.

At Brooklyn Community Board 1's August full board meeting and again at last Thursday's transportation committee meeting, Von Ohlen's friends and family called for a protected bike lane on Grand Street. Von Ohlen, 35, was riding on Grand Street early in the morning on July 3 when the driver of a Chevy Camaro knocked him off his bike and dragged him 20 to 30 feet. (Police located the vehicle on July 6, but have not apprehended a suspect.)

One friend, Amanda Stosz, told transportation committee members last week that a protected bike lane on Grand Street between the Williamsburg Bridge and Metropolitan Avenue Bridge would be "ideal," and that other safety improvements should be made if a fully protected lane is not possible. A "North Williamsburg Transportation Study" is already underway at DOT, but Stosz said she hopes the agency will move faster on making Grand Street safer, particularly in light of the L Train shutdown.

In response, CB 1 Chair Dealice Fuller, District Manager Gerald Esposito, and committee members expressed support for studying a protected bike lane. "You don't have to justify it to me. We agree with you ... and we welcome the commissioner to investigate and advise," Esposito said, referring to Bray, who was present for the meeting. "Now is the time. If there ever was a time, now is the time."

Bray said DOT would investigate, but that he wasn't sure a protected bike lane would be "geometrically" feasible. Only four committee members were present for Thursday's meeting, and no vote was held.

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