Slow Zone, Next Round of Bike Routes on Tap for Brownsville, East New York

Caption. Image: DOT
Blue lines show where new bike lanes and shared lane markings will be installed in East New York and Brownsville. Orange lines show existing shared lane markings, while red lines show existing bike lanes. Image: DOT

The fledgling bike lane network in Brownsville and East New York will continue to grow. The second of three rounds of painted on-street bike lanes — mapped out in a planning process initiated by neighborhood residents — is set to be installed by the end of the year, pending the support of Community Boards 5 and 16 later this month.

The neighborhood, which already has a 25 mph arterial slow zone along Atlantic Avenue, is also set to receive its first 20 mph neighborhood Slow Zone this summer [PDF]. Both community boards joined the Brownsville Partnership, an initiative of the non-profit Community Solutions, in applying for the Slow Zone. The project is bounded by Sutter, Rockaway, Livonia, and Pennsylvania Avenues and averages nearly 72 traffic injuries annually, according to DOT. There are two NYCHA complexes and four schools within its borders.

The bike lane plan [PDF] adds 14.5 miles of striped bike lanes and shared lane markings to a meshwork of north-south and east-west streets, including Pitkin, Blake, and Dumont Avenues, and Hinsdale Street, Snediker Avenue, Thomas Boyland Street, and Saratoga Avenue. While it contains no protected lanes, the plan would create a denser and better connected neighborhood grid of streets with space marked for biking.

Thomas Boyland Street and Saratoga Avenue will have bike lanes north of Eastern Parkway and shared lanes south of Eastern Parkway, while Blake Avenue will switch between bike lanes and shared markings as the street’s width varies from block to block. None of the bike lanes will remove parking, though Saratoga Avenue will receive a road diet from East New York Avenue to St. Marks Avenue, nearly identical to the one proposed for Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights.

Nupur Chaudhury is program manager at the Brownsville Partnership and a public member of the CB 16 transportation committee. After being encouraged by Bettie Kollock-Wallace, who now serves as CB 16 chair, Chaudhury has been working with Brownsville residents and other community groups on plans to bring bike lanes to the neighborhood. Workshops began in June 2011, and efforts have included community bike rides and follow-up sessions to refine the plan. Last year, the boards voted to support the first phase of bike lanes, which were installed last summer.

DOT presented the latest phase of the project to the CB 16 transportation committee last week. “This was one meeting where everything was coming together,” Chaudhury said. “It showed the committee that there is a concentrated effort on Brownsville by the Department of Transportation.”

Residents are looking for more, though: Chaudhury and others are hoping DOT will install mid-block crosswalks on Blake, Dumont, and Livonia Avenues where they cross what used to be Osborn Street in the super-blocks of Brownsville and Tilden Houses, either as part of the Slow Zone or as a separate project.

Although the bike lane plan was well-received, the committee did not take a vote. It could be taken up at the next general board meeting, which is scheduled for June 24. The plans have yet to go before CB 5, which does not currently have a transportation committee chair and is hosting its next general board meeting on June 25. “We’re trying to get them on the agenda,” CB 5 District Manager Walter Campbell said of the bike lanes. (Community boards take a break over the summer, so these would be the final board meetings until September.)

DOT’s plan says the lanes are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year, with a third round of bike lanes coming next year.