Transportation Alternatives, an activist coalition with the support of several Brooklyn elected officials, published an open letter last week addressed to Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodríguez concerning bike lane safety in North Brooklyn.
Transportation Alternatives charges that the current set-up of the bike lane on Grand Street does not adequately meet the safety needs of the community, as the initial safety features they first envisioned for the space were not implemented. These features include “protective jersey barriers, dedicated loading zones, and a dedicated bus lane along Grand Street extending over the Williamsburg Bridge.”
The jersey barriers appear to be the most consequential of the proposed improvements, as Transportation Alternatives says that the current plastic barriers are not sturdy enough to protect cyclists from injuries and fatalities.
The City’s own Department of Transportation estimates that the amount of bike trips taken by New Yorkers has more than tripled over the past fifteen years. The DOT installed 29.5 miles of protected bike lanes in 2020, bringing the city’s total up to 546 protected lane miles. As it relates to this specific area, Transportation Alternatives points out that “cycle rates recorded at locations such as the Pulaski Bridge, the Kent Avenue bike lane, and the Williamsburg Bridge grew about 33% year over year from 2019 to 2020,” as demonstrated by data from the DOT’s Cycling in the City report.
Late last year, the soon-to-be appointed Commissioner Ydanis Rodríguez announced during a press conference that the DOT would replace half of the plastic barriers with more permanent structures during his first hundred days in office.
“We’re working around the clock to harden the bike lanes we’ve already announced and appreciate the support for this important work. We will consider locations across the city for future lane hardenings and will have more to share soon” said Vin Barone, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, in an emailed statement to Greenpointers.
“The Grand Street bike lane is an important connector in North Brooklyn, yet drivers routinely ignore the plastic delineators and treat the lane like a parking lot, putting bike riders and pedestrians at risk,” said Juan Serra, co-chair of the North Brooklyn Transportation Alternatives Activist Committee. “Commissioner Rodriguez’s plan to fortify bike lanes is an important step to keeping riders safe, and we urge the City to prioritize Grand Street for safety investments. Grand Street can be a model bike lane for the whole city if it’s given the resources to succeed.”
“To keep people safe, the Grand Street bike lanes need real protection that stops drivers from blocking the path,” said Kevin Costa, co-chair of the North Brooklyn Transportation Alternatives Activist Committee. “As Commissioner Rodriguez and DOT announce plans to upgrade bike lanes across the city, we urge them to make Grand Street safe for bike riders with much-needed investments in concrete bike lane barriers.”