Williamsburg Bridge Built For Cycling
by Jeffrey Harmat
Mar 24, 2009 | 1093 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cycling onto the Williamsburg Bridge has been something of an uphill battle, but the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed changes to the streets surrounding the entrances will level the playing field for cyclists navigating the treacherous roadways and sidewalks.

The proposal, which will create designated bike lanes, was announced at last week’s meeting of Community Board 1 and hailed by many residents of the neighborhood as a positive improvement to vastly expanding the cycling network in North Brooklyn.

The street improvements are planned for Driggs Avenue, Grand Street, and Borinquen Place, which are three of the major roadways that connect to both the north and south entrances to the Williamsburg Bridge. The changes will create an additional 4.6 miles of bike lanes on the streets.

Designed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing number of cyclists in North Brooklyn, DOT is confident that these changes will increase the amount of commuters who take their bicycles over the bridge, which connects the south side of Williamsburg to Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

“These improvements will provide greater Williamsburg Bridge access for communities in North and East Williamsburg,” said Hayes Lord, acting Bicycle Program coordinator for DOT.

The plan calls for a dedicated bike lane on Driggs Avenue that follows the southbound direction of traffic on the one-way street, connecting it to the southern entrance to the bridge on Driggs Avenue and South 6th Street. A five-foot-wide bike lane will separate moving traffic from eastside parking on the street. Parking on both sides of the street will still be permitted as part of the plan.

Comparatively more drastic changes are planned for Grand Street and Borinquen Place, which will see one less driving lane on Borinquen Place, changing it from four to three lanes on the stretch between Grand and Keap streets.

The proposal calls for two-way traffic to move through each of the two driving lanes, with a dedicated left-turn lane in the center of the roadway and two bike lanes next to curbside parking.

On Borinquen Place between South 3rd Street and Marcy Avenue, a bike lane will be created on the sidewalk in the eastbound direction and curbside lane will be created along the westbound side of the street. The westbound lane will necessitate the removal of 10 parking spaces between Marcy and Havemeyer, and Lord told Community Board 1 that he did not know where or if new parking spaces would be created elsewhere in the community to compensate for the loss.

At the board, the proposed plans incited cheers from many of the attendees, though a few board members grumbled over the loss of parking.

The new bike lanes are part of DOT’s plan to dramatically increase the number of bike lanes throughout New York City. More than 200 miles of bike lanes have been added to city streets since 2006 as DOT works towards its goal of an 1,800-mile network of bike lanes by 2030.
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