Tonight, North Brooklyn transportation activists will gather together to discuss the coming year, and it’s pretty clear which topic will dominate the conversation: the L train closure.
Hosted by Transportation Alternatives, the gathering is 2018’s first iteration of a monthly North Brooklyn meet-up designed to keep residents informed about upcoming meetings important to safe, equitable transit development in the neighborhood, said Luke Ohlson, a senior organizer for the group.
This means discussing upcoming community board meetings and MTA or DOT events, as well as potentially planning actions. TransAlt, as it’s often abbreviated, has hosted rallies, marches and rides calling attention to the need for better bike, bus and pedestrian infrastructure in New York.
With chapters across the city, the causes are varied, but in North Brooklyn, the group’s focus is familiar to most residents: the L train, truck traffic, and Grand Street.
The Grand Street PeopleWay is a longtime campaign from TransAlt, rooted in safety concerns, said Ohlson, citing three cyclist deaths on the street in the last 15 months. The PeopleWay would prioritize protected bike lanes, bus-only lanes, and better pedestrian access. Now, with the closure of the L train threatening to clog streets with for-hire and private vehicles, the need for better safety and traffic flow has been amplified.
Local Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-34) also supports the creation of the PeopleWay, and transit activists have been making the rounds to local businesses, discussing how changes in traffic patterns will affect their livelihoods.
In a report from the MTA and DOT, the organizations wrote that the “DOT is looking to make major changes to a street that will serve as a major bus and bicycle corridor to the Williamsburg Bridge,” but no further details have been released.
“It’s a frustrating response,” said Ohlson. “Considering we’ve known about the shutdown for a year.”
According to Ohlson, officials from the MTA and DOT reneged on an agreement to attend a January meeting of the L Train Coalition this year. However, the two organizations did announce a series of open house meetings for the public, but whether or not there will be any new information remains to be seen.
For now, the group will keep at their causes, talking to local businesses, keeping residents informed, and trying to hold the city accountable for adequate, safe transportation.
The TransAlt North Brooklyn Activist Meet-Up will be held tonight:Thursday January 18, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Greenpoint Beer and Ale Co. (7 North 15th Street)