CB6 Approves Protected Bike Lane On Flatbush By Prospect Park

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PROSPECT PARK – The Brooklyn Community Board 6 Transportation Committee unanimously approved NYC Department of Transportation‘s (DOT) proposal to install a protected bike lane on Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard/Ocean Avenue.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

“Because this stretch of Flatbush falls in between [Prospect] Park and the Botanic Garden it’s not really in any CB [community board],” explained DOT’s Acacia Dupierre at Thursday’s committee meeting. She noted that Flatbush Avenue is the only street bordering Prospect Park that has been designated a Vision Zero Priority Corridor, which means that the road “has a disproportionate number of injuries from traffic crashes.”

From 2003 to 2019, there have been a total of 221 injuries on the stretch of Flatbush between Grand Army Plaza and Ocean Avenue, with nine severe injuries and one fatality, according to DOT. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has called on DOT to implement traffic calming measures along the road.

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“This is an equity issue,” Dupierre added. “It’s about making the street safer to travel along but [also] changing it, so it doesn’t feel like a boundary for people on this side of the park to access.”

DOT Transportation Planner, Acacia Dupierre, presenting Flatbush Avenue protected bike lane project to CB6 Transportation Committee, May 16, 2019 (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

Running alongside Prospect Park, the stretch is a “vital transportation corridor” she said, noting that the road accommodates heavy vehicular traffic daily and is one of the city’s busiest bus routes, serving the B41 Local and Limited lines. More than 350 cyclists travel this stretch of Flatbush daily during the week, and more than 500 on weekends. Due to the attractions in the vicinity—Prospect Park, Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Public Library—the area also has a significant amount of pedestrian traffic. “We’re thinking of all these people using the street and how we can make it safe for everybody,” Dupierre said.

The 60-foot-wide corridor currently features two travel lanes in each direction and parking on both sides. The stretch also serves as a bus and truck route where trucks are often parked illegally overnight.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

The proposed redesign includes installing two four-foot bike lanes together next to the curb on the west side of the street and bumping the parking over to create a floating parking lane that will protect bicyclists from moving traffic.

The two southbound bus stops will be built out on concrete islands that will align with the parking lane. Two southbound travel lanes will be maintained at all times.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

There will be no parking allowed on the east side of Flatbush during the morning peak from 7am to 10am to maintain the existing conditions of two northbound travel lanes. Parking will be allowed on the east side curb following the morning rush, reducing that side to one travel lane.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

At Grand Army Plaza, since the road is wider, the three northbound travel lanes will be maintained, preserving the current vehicle capacity.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

Since the curb line changes at Prospect Park’s Willink Entrance, the bike lane will shift onto the driveway’s cobblestones. DOT will work with the NYC Parks Department  and Landmarks Preservation Commission to improve the surface conditions as the cobblestones “are quite worn out,” Dupierre said.

Via NYC DOT’s Flatbush Ave Safety Improvements Grand Army Plaza To Empire Blvd presentation

Down by Ocean Avenue, the three southbound travel lanes will be maintained and the existing median will remain. Bicyclists will go up onto the sidewalk and wait to cross with the light, Dupierre explained. DOT’s bike lane will then segue into the Parks Department’s project along Ocean Avenue to improve the sidewalk. DOT’s plan will also align with Prospect Park Alliance’s current work to upgrade the sidewalk along Flatbush Avenue.

“We’ve learned that designs that include protected bike lanes are very successful in improving safety along corridors like this,” Dupierre noted. “In places where we’ve installed this kind of design throughout the city, we’ve seen a 15% drop in crashes.” Referencing the Prospect Park West protected bike lane as an example of a “very successful project,” she said after its installation in 2010, weekday cycling tripled after one year and crashes were reduced by 16%.

From 2011 to 2016, the number of Brooklyn residents bicycling to work has increased 65%, Dupierre noted, and DOT has responded by installing 65 miles of bike lanes in the borough over the past three years. With a majority of those bike paths focused in the northern part of the borough, “Prospect Park is the beginning of a hub to connect that network into the rest of Brooklyn,” she said.

Following the presentation, some CB6 Transportation Committee members questioned how DOT would ensure bicyclists follow traffic rules on the new paths. Dupierre told them that traffic lights would be installed in the bicycle lanes along with markings to direct cyclists to stop at the crosswalks. She added that DOT can also install rumble strips—built-up markings—in the bike lanes to encourage bicyclists to slow down as they approach crossings.

While the project does not fall into a specific community district, CB6 Transportation Committee Co-Chair Eric McClure said he would “entertain a motion based on the fact that [the bike path] doesn’t fall on another community board and we wouldn’t be stepping on anybody’s toes. I think this would certainly serve residents of CB6.”

The committee voted unanimously in favor of the motion to recommend that DOT proceed with the project as soon as possible since the bike lane would be “a borough-wide improvement and benefit.”

Dupierre said the agency hopes to start work on the protected bike lane later this year.

“It’s clear from the eight years that the Prospect Park West bike path has been in place that it’s an excellent design and it encourages cycling,” said McClure following the meeting. “It encourages better behavior and safety for everybody.”

“I think that would be the same case on Flatbush Avenue. There are some great cultural and natural destinations there for people to access and this would make it easier for them to do so by bicycle [and] on foot. I’m happy that we endorsed the project and I hope it gets built out as soon as possible.”

Click here to see DOT’s full presentation.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. “the road accommodates heavy vehicular traffic daily and is one of the city’s busiest bus routes”
    So, instead of improving traffic situation here, the plan is to eliminate one travel line!? Very clever!
    Besides, why there is a need in a separate bicycle line? There is already a bicycle line inside Prospect Park. Unbelievable…

  2. How did I know there would be an angry motorist in the comments? Flatbush is a dangerous road for everyone in the area, and it’s only congested because motorists insist on commuting in personal vehicles rather than on public transit or bicycles. They’re contributing to dangerous walking conditions, and a worsening climate when it’s totally unnecessary.

  3. As many other driver I used to drive at Prospect Park. Now it’s car-free.
    Lets make Flatbush Ave. – “the road accommodates heavy vehicular traffic daily and is one of the city’s busiest bus routes” – also car-free.

  4. I agree Peter. Beyond unbelievable

    Tyler, it affects quality of life of real Brooklynites who right now cannot access flatbush ave south from downtown brooklyn/north brooklyn, without stopping for a bathroom break.

    Flatbush ave is a major thoroughfare traversing brooklyn. Taking away a travel lane in that part of flatbush ave will only cause more bottle neck to other roads because all other roads near/leading to the proposed area syphon off flatbush ave.

    Ket’s not forget for true Brooklynites who live it each rush morning and evening, that same clever idea, that has become the much under utilized protected bike lane on prospect park west(ppw)for the last 8yrs, has done nothing for access but rather create major traffic in the grand army plaza area from flatbush ave north…rush hr traffic comes to a crawl approaching grand army plaza to get to union st, ppw, flatbush east/south, and to eastern parkway. Everything stops when on ppw and a car is trying to park, or if there is a parked delivery truck, or pick up/drop off from a school bus, an access-a-ride vehicle, or an uber/lyft.

    please show me the numbers re utilization of that protected bike lane on ppw. Someone please explain again Why is there a need for a bike lane around a park when the entire park has become a bike lane ever since vehicle access through the park was taken away! And does anyone realize that these protected lanes are really fully operational for maybe 2-3mo/yr?

  5. You get a ticket for biking the wrong way in prospect park, biking in pedestrian paths in the park, and for going on sidewalk on Flatbush. For those who commute by bike back and forth between grand army and Flatbush everyday there is no safe, legal alternative for bikers. This attempts to solve that and I’ve been hoping it would happen for years.

  6. As someone with three small children and a residence several blocks south of the park, driving and parking makes the park accessible for my family (strollers, gear, etc). And where are the safe bike lanes for people living further south on Ocean Ave or Flatbush???? To get to this fancy bike lane we would first have to risk our lives. This is for affluent people who want to frolic AROUND the park and politicians who pander to them.

    Even on the weekends there isn’t heavy foot traffic along the sidewalk compared to drivers. We NEED Parking. Cyclist, use the inside of the park or take the train.

  7. @Jesse
    There is an easy solution for this: two-way bike traffic inside Prospect Park, no lane elimination
    on Flatbush Ave.
    Everybody wins. End of story.

  8. Big Government at work, pandering to the rich while wasting true tax payers’ money.
    this poorly devised urban plan will ultimately deny access because of worsening congestion and no parking.

    Urban planner, how about using some of that grand side walk space for the protected bike lane around a park that is already entirely a bike lane? let’s keep all lanes and current parking and disrupt less the lives of true Brooklynites w/ needless road construction

  9. This is supposed to protect cyclists. However, the irony is that it will result in more cyclists on the road and more deaths. Cycling advocates seem to have an insatiable bloodlust.

  10. Nadine, you sound like a true suburbanite, not a Brooklynite, with your car and parking obsession. Seriously, if you love cars and parking so much, you should move to Jersey, or Houston, and leave Brooklyn to those of us who really appreciate it and its rich, human scale, which is the antithesis of the car utopia you favor.

  11. @Dennis, why is the answer for me to leave BK. Are you suggesting the elderly, disabled, or those not able to bike their way across/around BK are not cultured enough to live in BK?
    How about real solutions for all and less waste of tax payers’ money. For true Brooklynites, BK was always the suburbs in the concrete jungle. Yes change is inevitable but less than 10yrs ago, my family and i enjoyed PP and the grand army plaza area by driving to the park w/ no hassle and finding parking not only side street parking but parking inside the park and all had a great time w/ all the other BK families and other global families who trekked to the park and BK by car, traversing BK through flatbush ave.

    Isn’t that the point: for all to have access to the park and BK. The proposed plan does not do that. the plan walls off the area and hinders travel across BK through this major thoroughfare north/south.
    Many people depend and rely on four legged transportation and the B41 for access in BK. Access is not having to allow an extra hour of travel to the Downstate area to make 10:30am dialysis. How about to start, motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists just obeying existing traffic laws and get rid of mentality that one or the other has more rights to the road?(we all know what i mean).

    As in my previous comment, do we really need a protected bike lane on the flatbush ave side of the park by eliminating a travel road lane and existing parking? What is the actual utilization of the already existing protected bike lane on PPW?(right now under utilized and fully realistically operational 2-3mo/yr). What will bikers access on that side of the park that cannot be accessed by using the existing mega bike lane in the park (that already allows access/exits at zoo entrance or empire blvd entrance)? That side of the park is already under utilized by commuters not because of lack of access or dangerous road conditions but because the only attraction there is the zoo entrance. Can existing sidewalk space be used for the protected bike lane? @Dennis, i may be wrong but you don’t sound like true BKlynite or NYker. I’m wasting too much time on this

  12. The way to stop people riding on sidewalks is more bike lanes. There is no safe way to go south bound on a bike in this area. The same problem exists north bound on the other side. As long as there aren’t safe ways to get places on bikes there wont be a lot of people riding bikes. Old people can ride bikes too. Its healthy, look it up. They aren’t taking away parking. All of you people arguing against bike lanes, you are arguing for more bicycles on sidewalks. You are arguing for more bicycle deaths.

  13. @william
    -the safety risk overall and ultimately is cyclist behavior and speed
    -have yet to see stats on “bicycle deaths” on sidewalks.
    -protected bike lanes do not entirely eliminate riding bikes on sidewalks nor does it eliminate cyclists biking on roads/streets(we’ve all seen this)
    -some cyclists will always be more comfortable on a sidewalk
    -there’s protected bike lane on ppw and it is under utilized by bikers who still ride on sidewalk
    -yes so can toddlers, they can learn to ride bikes
    -please take look at the existing plans showing the expansive sidewalk space. maybe some of that space can be made a protected bike lane w/o losing a road travel lane
    -a cyclists can safely go south by entering the park at grand army plaza entrance using that mega bike lane and then exit at empire blvd/flatbush ave
    -if mega bike lane in park is made two-way, then would be able to get to empire blvd/flatbush ave south in 5min vs 7min

  14. So glad this passed! Flatbush is a mess.
    We have less than 10 years to mitigate the effects of climate change. We need to do everything we can to reduce the number of cars on the roads. Full stop.
    I’m glad DOT is doing this and not listening to the complaints of the small minority of baby boomers addicted to their cars who won’t have to face the effects of climate change. My kids are born and raised here and could live for the next 70 years. They will face the worst effects of today’s decisions. We shouldn’t sacrifice their future for the convenience of a handful of people who choose to drive in the densest, most transit friendly city in the country.

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