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.

  • jeremy

    North Brooklyn desperately needs protected bike lanes. Seriously there are no safe routes.

    All of these streets are extremely dangerous. Metropolitan, Graham, Manhattan, Bushwick, Morgan, Grand.

  • Reader

    “Bray said DOT would investigate, but that he wasn’t sure a protected bike lane would be “geometrically” feasible.”

    Translation: parking is more important than human lives.

    I realize commercial strips need some car parking and delivery space, but this is such a defeatist thing to say. Plenty of countries manage to fit protected bike lanes on the same kinds of streets.

  • Kevin Love

    Plenty of countries manage to make the same kind of streets car-free.

  • jeremy

    Why not put the PBL right in the middle of the road?

  • c2check

    Could help keep the bike lanes free, but then it’s difficult to make turns or to get to adjacent businesses on bike

  • c2check

    Some traffic-calmed bike boulevards would work wonders.
    You wound’t even have to remove parking.
    Even just retiming traffic lights for bike speeds would be great (on Roebling, for example)

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Literally the only route through an industrial area and from the industrial area to the nearby highways? I doubt it.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Part of the problem is there’s no hierarchy. Every street is the major route. If they could actually turn some of them into neighborhood streets (by filtering away through-traffic) they could be safe streets to cycle on without any bike-specific infrastructure.

  • c2check

    Imagine if Neighborhood Slow Zones had real, robust traffic-calming/diverting measures to make them actual…you know, “neighborhood” “slow” zones?

  • kevd

    easy, make them one-ways that switch direction every few blocks.
    no more through traffic on side streets.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Not if there are crosswalks.

  • ahwr

    Is that Passeig de Sant Joan in Barcelona?

    Looks like it. The building to building distance is ~150 feet. Grand street is about thalf that. Counting the buffer, the bike lane on Passeig de Sant John is ~15 feet wide. Grand street is 50 feet curb to curb. That would leave 17.5 feet on each side. Is that enough room for a bus to pass a parked truck without slowing to a crawl? Sounds like you’d still be removing a lane of parking.

  • c2check

    Possibly, but there are still design questions: Where do turning cyclists wait to turn without blocking thru-cyclists on a road of this width? How to we remove conflicts with pedestrians in the crosswalks and turning vehicles? How do cyclists make left turns?

  • c2check
  • c2check
  • kevd

    seen those many times in Europe. Also a very good idea.

  • Bernard Finucane

    True, but none of these sound like deal breakers in my experience. Crosswalks can be wide enough to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. Bikes can navigate around turning or waiting bikes, unless there is serious congestion.

    My experience consists of living in Germany long term. In Germany the pedestrian infrastructure is very good and the bike infrastructure is pretty good but spotty. It is easier for cyclists to work around infrastructure issue that bring them into conflict with pedestrians and each other than it is for cars.

  • ahwr

    When the sidewalks are fifty feet wide (as they are on that street) and you have a cycling culture that tolerates riding considerately for a few blocks then the median can serve through traffic exclusively with limited number of accommodated turnoffs to get to the sidewalk for local access. That wide a sidewalk can accommodate plenty of green to give a wide buffer from moving vehicles, waiting areas for bus riders, cafes etc…

    Take a look at the area, and what it was like a few years ago.


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