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‘Bedford Slip’ Plaza Returns Full-Time To Greenpoint For G Train Shutdown

The northernmost block of of Bedford Avenue in Greenpoint will be an around-the-clock pedestrian plaza through at least Aug. 12.

Josh Katz|

The uppermost block of Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue will be a car-free plaza through at least Aug. 12.

The northernmost block of Bedford Avenue in Greenpoint is now an around-the-clock pedestrian plaza, after city officials closed off the tip of the borough-length corridor for six weeks to ease congestion for shuttle buses during the G train shutdown.

The section of Bedford between Nassau and Manhattan Avenues, which locals have re-christened "Bedford Slip," has closed to traffic on a handful of days since 2022. Locals hope the latest closure — scheduled through mid-August — will outlast the G train outage.

"From a public space perspective, the intersection has been transformed," said Katie Denny Horowitz, Executive Director of the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, which helps manage Bedford Slip and other public spaces in the area.

The Department of Transportation has banned left turns from that stretch of Bedford onto Manhattan Avenue through Aug. 12, to reduce vehicle conflicts for free shuttle buses servicing the area as the MTA replaces the G train's ancient signaling system.

The change effectively closes the block to cars, since drivers can only make left turns on that part of Bedford — creating a new space for people.

The plaza at Bedford Slip was bustling last Wednesday.Josh Katz

"By temporarily closing the slip lane, we can reduce unnecessary traffic on Manhattan Avenue, helping MTA buses move more quickly and more reliably through the corridor," said DOT spokeswoman Mona Bruno. "This approach will not only speed up riders’ commutes, but also enhance safety and create new public space for all to enjoy."

The short block has been turned into an open space around a dozen times during the warmer months since 2022. Unlike with nearby Banker's Anchor, however, DOT has so far declined to make the conversion permanent. A petition calling for such has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

"The people yearn for open space," said Dan Elstien, a volunteer with North Brooklyn Open Streets. "This space that’s just a turn lane could be a much more beneficial asset to the community than it’s used right now."

DOT may have been cowed by a few residents and businesses on the block against the street closure. An opposing petition by a group called "Greenpoint Defense," claimed the change "would create more traffic and potentially unsafe conditions that could cause more accidents [sic]," but got about a quarter of the signatures as proponents.

People have flocked to the plaza since it returned last week. The North Brooklyn Parks Alliance set up planters to beautify the space and keep cars out.

Even former critics have started to come around to the changes, Elstein said.

"We’ve seen people who used to be skeptical, they’ve come around. They can see the benefits. Now that it’s here, it’s a lot harder to catastrophize," he said.

The three-way intersection of Bedford, Lorimer and Nassau counts some of the highest foot traffic in north Brooklyn.Josh Katz

The block where the plaza sits used to be a two-way road that intersected with both Lorimer Street and and Nassau Avenue. DOT converted the block to one-way and painted a pedestrian extension in 2018, making it redundant for vehicular traffic. Even with the block closed, northbound cars can still access Manhattan Avenue via Nassau.

The three-way intersection of Bedford, Lorimer and Nassau counts some of the highest foot traffic in north Brooklyn, according to DOT data from 2019.

In late 2020, pickup driver slammed into a woman and pinned her against one of the boulders of the corner extension, severely injuring her, which galvanized locals to push for pedestrianizing the space.

"Having an alternative use for this space during this period for the G train [shutdown] makes a ton of sense," said the area's City Council member, Lincoln Restler. "It gives us an opportunity to see how it goes."

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