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DOT <i>Says</i> It Will Fill Jay Street Bike Lane Gaps This Year

Drivers often give cyclists far less than three feet of passing distance. This is Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn every day. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Manhattan Bridge-bound commuters: Your long unprotected nightmare is (almost) over.

After months of claiming it had "no plan" to fill in the gaps in the protected bike lane network on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the Department of Transportation now says it will act "some time this year" to improve safety on a critical corridor that serves two heavily used bridges.

The agency said it had declined to act for years because of construction projects on Jay Street between Fulton and Tillary streets.

"Now that all three construction projects are complete and the implementation season just began in April, we will schedule the completion of this project for some time this year," DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray wrote in a form letter to several cyclists who had objected to unsafe conditions on the roadway.

Bray did not note that the construction projects — including a renovation at the former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay, the construction of City Tech's rec center at Tillary Street and a third project north of Tillary — have been done for a while now. Placarded cars line the curbs, despite "No standing" signs. Cyclists are forced into traffic at several crucial spots in both the northbound and southbound lanes.

This southbound Jay Street cyclist was forced into the roadway because the protected bike lane currently ends abruptly at the Myrtle Promenade. Photo Gersh Kuntzman
This southbound Jay Street cyclist was forced into the roadway because the protected bike lane currently ends abruptly at the Myrtle Promenade. Photo Gersh Kuntzman
This southbound Jay Street cyclist was forced into the roadway because the protected bike lane currently ends abruptly at the Myrtle Promenade. Photo Gersh Kuntzman

It is unclear what fixes are in store. Despite Bray's letter, the DOT press shop declined to brief Streetsblog on the details of the plan or the timeline.

Double- )and in this case, triple-) parked cars line Jay Street. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Double- (and in this case, triple-) parked cars line Jay Street.
Double- )and in this case, triple-) parked cars line Jay Street. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Last week, the agency had said that there were "no plans" for Jay Street — a comment that the agency says was made before Bray's letter was issued.

Until the plans are released, cyclists will likely continue to be cynical of the agency, which often leaves glaring gaps in its protected bike lane network.

"I’ll repeat my old refrain: If this many people are willing to mix it up with heavy traffic and bike the Jay Street gauntlet to the bridge, imagine what would happen with policies to reduce cars and bring our city’s bike infrastructure up to international standards," tweeted Doug Gordon.

Jay Street between the Fulton Mall and the Manhattan Bridge bike path entrance is one of the busiest cycling sluices in Brooklyn — and, thanks to double-, triple- and placard-parking, it is one of the most dangerous.

Last year, there were 199 crashes, which injured 19 cyclists, 10 pedestrians and 23 motorists, according to city statistics.

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