Two Community Boards Sign Off on Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Bike Lanes

New bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge (solid blue arrows) have received support from two community boards. Tweaks to Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn are also moving ahead, but bike routes in Queens CB 2 are on hold as  Map: DOT
New bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge (solid blue arrows) have received support from two community boards, but the intersection of Greenpoint and Borden Avenues (purple dot) remains in question. Map: DOT [PDF]

Four years ago, DOT shelved a plan that would have added bike lanes to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, also known as the J.J. Byrne Bridge, after a year of outcry from area businesses and residents. Now, a modified plan has cleared two community boards little more than a month after it was first proposed.

Unlike the previous plan, which put both eastbound and westbound traffic on a road diet, slimming the bridge from two lanes in each direction to one, the new proposal has one Brooklyn-bound car lane and two Queens-bound car lanes [PDF]. Cyclists will have six-foot bike lanes on either side, with four-foot buffers. As in the previous plan, the bike lanes will not be protected from car traffic.

DOT is also proposing adjustments to the Greenpoint Avenue bike lane from McGuinness Boulevard to Kingsland Avenue, where it connects with the J.J. Byrne Bridge. Some blocks will be converted to sharrows, while others will be upgraded to curbside buffered bike lanes that are wider than the current, faded markings, and will be painted green for improved visibility [PDF].

Resolutions supporting both the bridge bike lanes and the Greenpoint Avenue tweaks received overwhelming support from Brooklyn Community Board 1 at its general board meeting on Tuesday evening, according to Transportation Alternatives Brooklyn committee co-chair Becca Kaplan, who was there.

On the other side of the bridge, Queens CB 2 also voted overwhelmingly for the bridge bike lanes at its general board meeting on April 1, according to former CB 2 member Emilia Crotty.

While it’s given a thumbs-up to bike lanes on the bridge, CB 2 has yet to take action on DOT’s second phase of bike routes planned for Sunnyside and Long Island City [PDF].

The proposal, which calls for shared lane markings on Greenpoint Avenue leading northeast from the bridge, includes the intersection of Greenpoint and Borden Avenues, which has long been of concern to local residents.

Does DOT really think that sharrows are enough to make this expressway on-ramp safe for cyclists? Photo: Google Maps
Sharrows are not enough to make this expressway on-ramp safe for cyclists. (Note the car crash.) Photo: Google Maps

For years, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and CB 2 have asked DOT to make changes at the intersection, which is clogged with auto traffic heading between the Queensboro Bridge and the Long Island Expressway.

“It’s really nasty going through there,” said TA volunteer Steve Scofield. In the nearly three years since Van Bramer made his last request [PDF], there have been major staff changes at DOT’s Queens borough office, but no changes at the intersection. “It’s like we’re starting from scratch again,” Scofield said. “It just keeps falling off the radar, with all the turnover.”

Things may be looking up, however: Yesterday, DOT hosted a walk-through with CB 2 leadership, a Van Bramer staffer, and TA volunteers. “We all agree that sharrows are not going to cut it,” Scofield said. “We need some real bike infrastructure there.”

Scofield hopes DOT will study adding a bike lane and leading pedestrian intervals to give people a head-start on turning drivers, but the crush of cars makes the intersection particularly challenging. “We all agree this is hard,” Scofield said. “We all know there is a problem, but it doesn’t lend itself to an easy solution.”

Update: DOT says it will begin installation of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes in late spring or summer of this year. The agency says it is “reviewing signal timing” and “safety and mobility enhancements” for the intersection of Greenpoint and Borden Avenues. DOT will present its larger plan for bike network expansion in the area to the CB 2 transportation committee next month.