New York City’s Department of Transportation plans to remove hundreds of city-subsidized parking spaces under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. DOT has proposed to use some of the space for a narrow two-way protected bike lane and some minor pedestrian improvements.
The plan would remove 680 free parking spaces between Apollo St. and Metropolitan Ave. and replace them with a bike path, expanded pedestrian space, and 400 parking meters. Hundreds of parking spaces will remain, but they will be metered for the first time.
Metered parking will be $1.50 per hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday. It would amount to $22.50 per day, 6 days per week.
The DOT states the space under the BQE is derelict, but has not made attempts to conduct weekly or biweekly street sweeping (as they do on most main and pedestrian streets) and clean up the area.
Transportation Alternatives, the nonprofit working to “reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile and to advocate for better walking, biking and public transit for all New Yorkers” pushed this DOT project.
Juan Restrepo, a Senior Organizer at Transportation Alternatives states, “Free parking is not a right. The car-centric status quo has failed New Yorkers, and we are proud to have worked on this plan with a broad coalition of local community groups and elected officials. This investment for Meeker Ave has been in the works since 2015 and was unanimously approved by the local community board this past May. As we clean up after a climate crisis-fueled flood and face the deadliest year for traffic crashes since 2014, we need to redesign streets to get people out of cars and keep New Yorkers safe. This plan and others like it are important for New York’s climate and Vision Zero future and we are proud that it will be fully installed soon by NYC DOT.”
But not everyone shares the same views. A group called Meeker Ave. Neighbors started a petition on Change.org. They are Greenpoint residents who would like an equal place at the table when zoning and infrastructure decisions about streets in their neighborhood.
Meeker Ave. Neighbors started the petition because residents rely on the parking spots, including commuting teachers. The group highlights the fact that the believe the plan will create more congestion and increase emissions as residents circle blocks searching for parking. The plan might also increase the use of car services such as Uber and Lyft creating even more congestion and emissions.
It will limit transportation options for people who rely on personal vehicles for their daily commute in transit-poor areas, including the elderly, the disabled, and blue collar workers. The plan will also displace the homeless population residing at the eastern portion of Meeker Ave. under the BQE, without any plan to help these individuals.
Meeker Ave. Neighbors is looking to stop the current iteration of the project immediately, and encourage the city to stop removal of parking spaces under the BQE and not install any meters.
Meeker Ave. Neighbors is asking the city to conduct street cleaning under the BQE during the designated alternate side parking periods and ticket vehicles that do not move for street sweepers, if revenue is needed, and tow abandoned vehicles. They are in favor of ticketing speeding vehicles, installing speed cameras, and updating crossing signals to make crosswalks safer.
Updates on the petition show that there will be a public forum on September 14th. The update notes that it would be impactful to have a good number of people show up who are in favor of saving parking under the BQE.
At the time of publication, 450 people had signed the petition. The organizers are looking for at least 500 signatures.