Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bicycling

No More Stalling: DOT Redesigns Gerritsen Ave After Teen Cyclist’s Death

In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT
By next month, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian islands, and bus boarding islands. Image: DOT [PDF]
In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT

DOT will install a two-way protected bike lane and other traffic-calming measures on Gerritsen Avenue, the street next to Marine Park in southern Brooklyn where a drunk driver killed a teenage cyclist this summer [PDF].

On the night of July 19, Thomas Groarke, 24, overtook another driver on the left and sped into the wide painted median on Gerritsen near Gotham Avenue, then fatally struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike southbound, the Daily News reported. Three other people were injured in the crash. Groarke's blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.

Gerritsen Avenue is a wide street with a speeding problem and a history of traffic injuries and deaths. Since 2007, there have been four fatalities on the street, according to DOT, including three in the past two years. After the deaths of Joseph Ciresi and James Miro last fall, the Times looked at the street's reputation as a drag strip.

The city has tinkered with the design of Gerritsen Avenue before. After a motorist severely injured 12-year-old cyclist Anthony Turturro in 2004 at the same intersection where Ryan was killed, the city implemented a four-lane-to-three-lane road diet with a painted median. In 2008 and 2009, the city floated concrete pedestrian islands and painted bike lanes for Gerritsen but backed off after local residents protested the changes. The only change implemented was to narrow the medians to make room for a "wide parking lane" (instead of painted bike lanes).

gerritsen
The current conditions on Gerritsen Avenue don't work well for people walking or biking. Photo: NYC DOT
Here's what Gerritsen Avenue used to look like when it was dangerous and more appealing to Marty Golden.

DOT's new design finally narrows the motorway, adds the raised medians, and provides a bikeway that could have protected Anthony Turturro and Sean Ryan. A curbside two-way bike lane protected by parked cars and six new bus boarding islands will run along Marine Park on the east side of the street. Medians at nine intersections will get concrete pedestrian islands. And the city will add a signalized crossing at Channel Avenue by P.S. 277.

The day after Ryan was killed this summer, neighbors, including Turturro, marched down Gerritsen Avenue in his honor to demand that the city address speeding on the corridor. This time, DOT is not waiting for permission before taking action.

The redesign will be installed "in late October/early November," according to a DOT spokesperson.

Ryan was biking in the wide painted median pictured above when a speeding driver swerve out of the northbound lane and struck him. Image: DOT
In the old design, it was too easy for reckless drivers to overtake other motorists by swerving into the median, like the driver who killed Sean Ryan. The new design makes that much harder. Image: DOT
Ryan was biking in the wide painted median pictured above when a speeding driver swerve out of the northbound lane and struck him. Image: DOT

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Thursday’s Headlines: ‘We’ll See You in Court, Gov.’ Edition

Today's the day that City Comptroller Brad Lander and his team of legal eagles will start the fight to save congestion pricing!

July 25, 2024

Hochul Must Put Up or Shut Up on Congestion Pricing, New Senate Transportation Chair Says

Gov. Hochul must produce a "100-day plan" to replace the $16.5 billion MTA funding shortfall created by her decision to cancel congestion pricing.

July 24, 2024

DOT Begins Safety Upgrades for Atlantic Av. But Locals Want More

Some changes are coming for Atlantic, but they're not enough, say street safety advocates.

July 24, 2024

MTA Contractor Scrambles to Refund Fake Charges After OMNY ‘Upgrade’ Goes Awry

Cubic is working to issue refunds to riders improperly charged thanks to the glitch, a spokesman said.

July 24, 2024

Podcast: GOP’s ‘Project 2025’ is ‘Based on a Lot of Ignorance’

What does Transportation for America's Beth Osborne think of the transportation portion of the Heritage Foundation's playbook for a Trump presidency?

July 24, 2024
See all posts