Brooklyn Bike-Lane Proposal Finally Surfaces After Deutsch’s Departure
A long-awaited plan for a key waterfront connection on Emmons Avenue emerges after a Council member's expulsion.
Will you be biking to the beach safely next summer?
A waterfront block in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, that is a key connection to Jacob Riis Beach and home to the world-famous Roll-N-Roaster roast-beef joint will be getting a two-way protected bike lane, the Department of Transportation disclosed this week — months after the neighborhood’s Council member, who had opposed the lane, was expelled for criminality.
The DOT presented the plan for a protected bike lane on the south side of Emmons Avenue from Shore Boulevard to Brigham Street — a dangerous stretch where the lack of bike infrastructure and signage has sent more than one cyclist onto the Belt Parkway — at Community Board 15 on Monday night. The avenue serves as Sheepshead Bay’s entrance to the Jamaica Bay Greenway. Crucially for car-mad southern Brooklyn, the protected bike lane would be totally parking neutral, neither creating or destroying car parking along the south side of the block.
The DOT accomplished the feat by shrinking a median that runs from Shore Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, keeping both 11-foot-wide travel lanes on the south side of Emmons and creating a parking lane that “protects” the bike lane. The city proposes to remove the angled parking on the south side of Emmons from Ocean Avenue to Coyle Avenue and to create two parking lanes, one next to the median and the other next to the bike lane. That would change the street geometry from a 19-foot-wide travel lane (which often is full of illegal parking) to a 12-foot-wide travel lane surrounded by two parking lanes. The plan might enable the proposed bike lane to avoid the usual controversies that attend such projects in south Brooklyn.
“If you bike down Emmons Avenue, say on your way to make Jamaica Bay or the Rockaways, you will note that there’s usually parking on the right side of the street, even though there’s not supposed to be,” said Bike South Brooklyn co-founder Brian Hedden. “So, this is actually adding a parking lane on that side of the street where none exists now. So, in my view, that would make people happy.”
The final stretch of the bike lane, from Coyle to Brigham streets, would be protected by flexposts and keep two, 10-foot-wide travel lanes, which the DOT said it preserved in order to move traffic headed toward the Belt Parkway. The lane would also have daylighted gaps in the parking protection in order to provide egress from the driveways along the south side of the street.
The city also proposed tweaking traffic-signal timers and installing improved pedestrian medians at Shore Boulevard, Ocean Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, Coyle Street and Knapp Street in order to provide safer street crossings.
The long-awaited bike-lane proposal finally surfaced after its sometime opponent, former City Council Member Chaim Deutsch, left the body at the end of April after pleading guilty to tax evasion. Deutsch last year hypocritically blasted the DOT for leaving Emmons off a list of protected-bike-lane projects, after he had opposed the lane because it purportedly affected the ability of parents to drop off their children in front of the Bay Academy middle school on Emmons. Sources told Streetsblog that the plan is the same one to which Deutsch objected on school-safety grounds.
Although the DOT didn’t disclose a date for the project’s start, advocates urged presumed mayor Eric Adams to move forward immediately. “A great @ericadamsfornyc signature #bikenyc superhighway would be filling the historic gap between the Jamaica Bay & Shore Parkway greenways,” Bike New York tweeted.
— Bike New York (@bikenewyork) October 26, 2021
The bike lane also would fill in another piece of the Jamaica Bay Greenway, a long-in-the-works plan to connect the neighborhoods around Jamaica Bay with waterfront cycling and jogging paths. Earlier this year, the DOT installed a two-way protected bike lane on 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, a key connection to Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula east of Emmons Avenue. The Emmons Avenue bike lane also would complete another leg of the Brooklyn Greenway, a similar effort to give cyclists safe access to the city waterfront.
“Connecting disparate segments of the greenway is vital to its provision of safety, mobility options, open space, and waterfront access,” said Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Executive Director Terri Carta. “Emmons Avenue is a frequent and popular corridor for families and people of all ages to reach Plumb Beach and the greater Jamaica Bay Greenway, and closes a substantial part of the greenway gap in South Brooklyn. I can’t see why Community Board 15 wouldn’t embrace this project for Emmons Avenue.”
Steve Saperstein, a Democrat who is running to represent Deutsch’s former district, did not respond to a request for comment. He recently told the Brooklyn Paper that “as a father, my transportation priority is always safety first.”