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.”

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