Traffic cones line portions of the curb and roadway as the work begins.

A stretch of Kent Avenue in south Williamsburg is being updated to include a two-way bicycle greenway, along with improvements to calm motorists and conform the roadway to traffic patterns above and below the area.

Kent Avenue south of Clymer Street towards the BQE is in a state of transition.

The transformation comes after a Community Board meeting in December, where members expressed concerns about speeding on the roadway after a well-publicized fatal accident, which prompted an immediate addition of more traffic signals. Ultimately, however, the Board decided even more substantive changes were required.

The roadway before changes were implemented (NYC Dept. of Transportation).

Before the overhaul commenced, a street-level bicycle lane was only available in the southbound direction (northbound motorists were allotted a portion of the sidewalk). Bicycle travel was often perilous, requiring navigation between confused pedestrians, parked cars and trucks, and fast-moving traffic (several studies attested to motorists exceeding the speed limit in the area).

Confusion with the old traffic pattern would often create bicycle scofflaws.

Some bicyclists, confused by the abrupt “loss” of a northbound bicycle lane after arriving on the roadway from Flushing Avenue and Williamsburg Street West, would travel against traffic in the southbound bike lane, causing further peril. Others saw the signage to move to the sidewalk, but were indifferent or disagreed with the instruction, creating scofflaws.

A comparison of the old and new designs of the roadway (NYC Dept. of Transportation).

The upgrade plan is a welcome addition for pedestrians and cyclists.

“My commute to [Brooklyn] will be complete!” said William M. Vallego, a bike enthusiast who lives in Queens.”

“Riding into oncoming traffic on Kent [Avenue] was not my favorite bike activity,” Alex Eben Meyer, an illustrator who lives in Greenpoint, admitted. “But I also hope that the new buffer between cars and bikes is more than just a coat of paint.”

The changes will also be integrated with a redesign of the nearby Flushing Avenue bike lane, all of which are part of a comprehensive 14-mile long Brooklyn Greenway project.

Additional photos / explanation below:

The Flushing Avenue / Williamsburg Street West corridor, approaching Kent Avenue.
Approaching from Flushing Ave. / Williamsburg Street West, a sign would abruptly tell cyclists to use the sidewalk.
Approaching from Flushing Ave. / Williamsburg Street West, a two-way street-level bicycle lane would thin to one direction (southbound) only.
Continuing street-level on Kent Avenue allowed only for bicycle traffic in the southbound direction. Northbound cyclists were instructed to use the sidewalk. The opposing side of the street had no bicycle lane, and fast-moving traffic.
Many northbound riders, either confused, indifferent, or in disagreement with the instruction, would prefer to use the street-level painted lane in the wrong direction.
The old traffic pattern, lacking a two-way bike lane, ran along Kent Avenue from Clymer Street to the BQE (Williamsburg Street West / Flushing Avenue).
A lane of parking southbound on Kent Avenue is being removed to accommodate the widened bicycle lane.
North of Clymer Street, Kent Avenue resumes as a two-way bicycle greenway.


Join the Conversation


  1. Nice summary, Matt. Let’s hope the asphalt on Flushing Ave. / Williamsburg Street West gets repaved — and a smooth sidewalk would be nice too.

  2. Why not just use the existing, very wide sidewalk as a mixed pedestrian-bike path? I bike this route all the time and there is plenty of room IF people are mindful of others (and not speeding like it’s the Tour De France).

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