No Controversy as Park Slope Panel Backs Flatbush Ave. Bike Lane

Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard is completely dominated by cars. Photo: DOT
Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard is completely dominated by cars. Photo: DOT

Members of a Brooklyn community board unanimously supported a Department of Transportation plan for a protected bike lane on Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard.

“It’s a really strong proposal. It replicates what was done on Prospect Park West almost a decade ago that has worked very well,” said Community Board 6 Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Eric McClure at his committee’s Thursday night vote.

The non-controversial proposal goes to the full board on June 12. Work is expected to begin this summer, the DOT told Streetsblog.

Currently, cyclists traveling northbound from Prospect Lefferts Gardens toward Grand Army Plaza have access to the Prospect Park loop, but southbound cyclists lack good options. Hundreds of cyclists already use Flatbush Avenue each day without any bike facilities, leading one-third to ride on the sidewalk, DOT said. Others ride against traffic on the park’s loop.

DOT's plan would maintain full service for drivers and remove very little parking. Source: DOT
DOT’s plan would maintain full service for drivers and remove very little parking (except during rush hour on the northbound side of Flatbush). Source: DOT

The proposed parking-protected, two-way bike lane [PDF] will be built along Flatbush Avenue’s western curb to connect Grand Army Plaza to another proposed bike lane on Ocean Avenue being built by the Parks Department.

The new design also prioritizes riders of the beleaguered B41 bus. The city plans to install southbound bus boarding islands between the bike lane and travel lanes at Grand Army Plaza and the Prospect Park Zoo. Buses will stop at the islands while remaining in the travel lane, reducing time spent at each stop.

Right now, cyclists, like the man next to the bus at right, have to mix with fast-moving traffic. Photo: Isaac Blasenstein
Right now, cyclists, like the man next to the bus at right, have to mix with fast-moving traffic. Photo: Isaac Blasenstein

The city says the plan will bring safety to a speedway-like stretch where 30 people were injured in 2018, and 221 were injured between 2013-17. Transportation officials presented data to the board showing a 15-percent decrease in total injuries after the installation of a protected bike lane.

“We are looking to design the street so people are urged to slow down. We want those bus islands to reduce the distances for people crossing the street at intersections. We want a connection for bicycles from the north of the park to the southeast,” DOT Senior Project Manager Acacia Dupierre told the committee.

However, the city made sure to keep two wide travel lanes in both directions during the morning rush and will not reduce the level of service for Flatbush Avenue.

“We want to maintain traffic capacity because it is such a vital corridor,” Dupierre told the board.

Nor does the plan substantially reduce parking — in fact, preserving parking was one of the DOT’s stated goals for the plan. Parking will be permitted along the eastern curb outside of the morning rush hours. No changes will be made to the regulations on the western parking lane.

Despite the city’s preservation of motor vehicle space, McClure remained upbeat about the city’s plan.

“Given the volume of cycling that’s there now, [the bike lane] is warranted, and it will only increase that,” he told Streetsblog. “I hope a decade from now that if there are so many people biking there that we can grab some more feet from the street.”

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Good recap of CB6’s reaction but why not also include CB9’s reaction from the previous week. They blasted it as a terrible plan & do not seem to care about the safety of cyclists at all if it encroaches upon an ounce of drivers’ space. Hope DOT recognizes facts, not irrational feelings, ought to guide this project forward and into reality. They made a great plan & deserve real praise here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Have we heard from NBBL and Seniors for Safety yet?

    Back in the 1990s, when I first owned a car, if you were frozen out of a place to put it with alternate side coming that day, you could park on this stretch of Flatbush, and hop the B41 bus to the subway.

    But a couple of years ago when I most recently owned car that was no longer possible, because the street parking filled.

  • Eric McClure

    Seriously? That’s unbelievable. It doesn’t even encroach on drivers’ space, only parkers’ space. And only for three hours every morning. And no one actually lives along that stretch, except for zoo animals. Never mind that thousands more rely on the pokey B41 bus than on free street parking.

  • Jacob

    It’s a good step in the right direction, but at a crucial juncture on the Southern end, the plan still forces people on bikes up onto the sidewalk. DOT says this is done to keep car delays to a minimum. The cult of LOS is still alive and well at DOT.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0bf91d115fcade35271e24b284a9f2971743230603e35ffb04c94baef233198.png

  • Andrew

    But what about the zoo animals who have doctor’s appointments in Manhattan?

  • thomas040

    “We want to maintain traffic capacity because it is such a vital corridor,” Dupierre told the board…… if you put in a bike lane, essentially you’re expanding traffic capacity. Don’t bikes per hour count as traffic?

  • Eric McClure

    Valid concern, tbh.

  • Geck

    It is somewhat understandable insofar as the proposed Ocean Avenue bike lane will be raised above the curb between parked cars and the sidewalk.

  • Jacob

    But the article list sidewalk riding as a major impetus for this project:

    Currently, cyclists traveling northbound from Prospect Lefferts Gardens toward Grand Army Plaza have access to the Prospect Park loop, but southbound cyclists lack good options. Hundreds of cyclists already use Flatbush Avenue each day without any bike facilities, leading one-third to ride on the sidewalk, DOT said. Others ride against traffic on the park’s loop.

  • MD

    Scariest place I’ve ridden in NYC. And I’ve ridden on the Manhattan Bridge (before they reopened the bike lane) as well as the Harlem River Drive.

  • kevd

    it will be a protected lane at the same height as the sidewalk there. not a sidewalk at all. just a bike lane at a different height.

  • Daphna

    This is a massive improvement but why keep two 11′ travel lanes? No travel lane with a citywide 25mph speed limit, even accounting for buses and trucks, needs to be wider than 10′. And the bi-directional bike lane will not even really be 8′ because that assumes the 1.5′ curbside gutter is rideable, which it is not. So this is really a 6.5′ bi-directional bike lane which is not nearly enough. At least reduce those two 11′ travel lanes to 10′ and add 2′ for the bike lane.

  • Eric McClure

    Yes, think Ocean Parkway or Eastern Parkway.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Now the I look at it, I understand why CB 9 is opposed. That is the CB closest to this stretch of road, and probably the folks storing cars there when it’s alternate side where they live, as I did every now and then from the other side of the park.

    By removing a lane of parking during the AM rush hour, it is effectively removed for people who need to leave the car there all day (while made available for those visiting the Botanic Garden and zoo, on the other hand).

    I’ll bet that’s the issue.

  • kevd

    the biggest problem with Ocean Parkway is the crossing traffic.
    there will only be one point where traffic crosses the Ocean Ave lane (lincoln road entrance to the rink).
    the second biggest problem with the Ocean Parkway bike path is the crappy state of the cement paving (especially further south). I would hope that won’t be an issue on a new bike path (no promises).
    The biggest problem with the eastern parkway path is people walking in it, which they do on plenty parking protected bike paths at street level, too.
    Ped levels on that side of Ocean are pretty low (most peds are IN the park, not just outside it, and since its a park there aren’t buildings) so I’m not too worried.

  • Vooch

    Indeed – in other countries, motor roadways with 25MPH speeds, get along perfectly well with 9 1/2 wide motor lanes.

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