DOT Remains Non-Committal on Building Bike Lanes on Meeker Avenue

There’s room for a bikeway on Meeker, but DOT has yet to come up with a design and doesn't have a timetable for doing so.

DOT is considering repurposing the giant "parking fields" on Meeker Avenue under the BQE for biking and walking. Photo: Google Maps
DOT is considering repurposing the giant "parking fields" on Meeker Avenue under the BQE for biking and walking. Photo: Google Maps

DOT recently presented the next set of Meeker Avenue pedestrian safety measures to the Brooklyn Community Board 1 transportation committee, but the agency hasn’t committed to making the street safer for people who bike.

Meeker, which cuts through Williamsburg underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, is hazardous for street users, with three fatalities and more than 90 injuries in the DOT project area between 2009 and 2013. To this point DOT changes to the street are limited to neckdowns and motorist turn bans. The next phase of improvements to Meeker will mimic those already in place, DOT project manager Julio Palleiro told CB 1 members last Thursday.

Between Union Avenue and Graham Avenue, the agency plans to install seven painted neckdowns [PDF]. The project would also ban motorist left turns at Lorimer Street, Leonard Street, Manhattan Avenue, and Graham Avenue, in part to prepare for future bike lanes.

DOT is tying bike improvements on Meeker to the new Kosciuszko Bridge bike path, which is expected to open in 2020. Excess asphalt in the middle of the boulevard, which currently functions as a parking lot, could be repurposed as a protected bikeway connecting to the bridge.

“We are looking holistically at the parking lots throughout the corridor,” Palleiro said. “If we were to put a bike facility on Meeker, we’re studying [whether] we would put on in the north side, on the south side, or in the middle.”

The bridge project is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, which creates more urgency for DOT to come up with a plan for Meeker. “Since the state is now moving very fast with the bridge construction, there is a necessity now to come to a consensus on what we should do,” Palleiro said.

However, Palleiro didn’t give a timetable for when that would happen, and didn’t say definitively that a bike component would be included. Instead, she said DOT is open to “workshopping” potential connections to the Kosciuszko path if CB 1 requests it.

In response to complaints, DOT previously watered down plans for pedestrian improvements in the area where Meeker meets Union and Metropolitan avenues, and didn’t include bike lanes in the original plan because, purportedly, no one at DOT thought to do it.

CB 1 member Karen Nieves welcomed the planned pedestrian upgrades, but pushed DOT get moving on bike improvements. “We need to start having that conversation,” Nieves said. “I’m talking about with us, with the public, because we need to start figuring out bike networks. It makes sense.”

Transportation Alternatives’ Make Meeker Move campaign has collected thousands of signatures from people who want pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements on Meeker.