In recent months, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) has released plans for a number of bike lanes that will be huge improvements and possible game-changers in their respective parts of the city. Two projects in Brooklyn notably represent a more aggressive approach to finding space for safe bike lanes than we saw during the de Blasio years.
Schermerhorn is a long-time poster child for dysfunctional NYC bike lanes. The police department’s Transit Bureau 30 routinely parks official and staff-owned cars in the west bound paint-only bike lanes, and that sets the tone for the rest of the street.
Advocacy and elected efforts to clear the Schermerhorn lanes foundered for years. But in May, DOT, with strong support from City Council Member Lincoln Restler, released a new plan that would transform the street.
Schermerhorn will become one-way east-bound for motor vehicles. That will create the space for DOT to implement a parking-protected, two-way bike lane. Parking protected lanes often see less vehicle blockage than DOT’s other bike lane templates, and the bikeway position on the south side of the street will hopefully insulate it as much as possible from police parking. A functioning bike lane on Schermerhorn will provide a great set of links/routes in Downtown Brooklyn, including better connecting the 4th Avenue lane to the Brooklyn Bridge.
DOT has indicated that the Schermerhorn bike lane will be implemented this month.
Ashland Place/Navy Street
The protected bike lane network in Brooklyn has never enjoyed connections between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and areas south of downtown.
That may change thanks to DOT’s proposal to implement protected bike lanes on Ashland Place and Navy Streets.
The network connections the project will create — directly linking the 4th Avenue protected bike lane (which runs all the way to Sunset Park) to the Flushing Ave greenway and the Manhattan Bridge via Sands Street — make this DOT’s most important bike lane proposal in Brooklyn.
As with DOT’s Schermerhorn Street plan, the narrow part of Ashland between Fulton and Dekalb Streets would get room for a bikeway by making it one-way for motor vehicles. The two-way bike lane would be protected by jersey barriers, according to DOT’s proposal.
Existing painted bike lanes on Navy Street would be succeeded by a two-way protected lane on the east side of the street.
Our present understanding is that Ashland/Navy will be implemented in 2023.
Long Island City: 11th Street & 44th Drive
The protected bike network on Long Island City will get big additions thanks to DOT plans to implemented new designs on 11th Street and 44th Drive.
Both streets are tremendously wide with a lot of wasted space and feature frequently-obstructed paint-only bike lanes. The conditions and opportunity put these protected bike lane plans in the “no brainer” category.
The new-design bike lanes on both streets will be parking-protected.
The new lanes will help with local bike circulation and together make up about two-thirds of the direct route between the Pulaski and Queensborough Bridges. Riders between the two spans will still contend with sharrows on 23rd Street under the elevated 7 train and the tough 11th St/Jackson Avenue intersection — hopefully the subjects of future DOT projects.
DOT has told Queens Community Board 2 that the lanes will be implemented “this summer.”
Written by Jon Orcutt, Director of Advocacy for Bike New York