Bicycle blues: Greenway would kill Ridge parking spaces

Bicycle blues: Greenway would kill Ridge parking spaces
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Community leaders in Bay Ridge want the city to put a bike path on a stretch of Second Avenue and Wakeman Place near Owl’s Head Park, but not if they have to lose 46 parking spots to do it.

The Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction are floating a $17.6 million plan called the Owl’s Head Park Connector that would create a combined pedestrian and bike path uniting Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, shift some traffic lanes, and repair a retaining wall on Second Avenue. But the project has additional costs — the city would have to remove 46 parking spaces from Second Avenue and Wakeman Place to make the plan work. The news surprised members of Community Board 10.

“Initially we weren’t told we would lose that much parking, so some members were a bit shocked to hear that was in the plans,” said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann.

The area is already choked for parking, and demand will only rise by the time the connector’s construction begins in 2017, Beckmann said.

The mayor’s proposed ferry service expansion would bring a commuter vessel to Brooklyn Army Terminal, but it’s not clear whether ferry park-and-riders would be able to leave their cars at the terminal or be forced to find on-street parking and further exacerbate the problem.

Second Avenue, which is in Community Board 7, would lose a majority of the spots, according to the plan. The board’s manager is concerned about parking, but board members felt they didn’t have enough information about changes to traffic patterns, and he doesn’t anticipate a vote until November, he said.

“We need to have some of our questions answered about operations near the highway entrance to Belt Parkway and more information on traffic patterns,” he said. “If the committee decides we don’t have enough info, we won’t vote.”

The connector would be the latest link in the under-construction Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a patchwork connection of bike paths leading from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge. When done, cyclists from Sunset Park and north will be able to get to Owl’s Head Park and continue south on the bike and pedestrian promenade that encircles Bay Ridge’s coast.

The city has divide the plan 24 capital projects, but the Owl’s Head Connector is one of only three that are funded, according information from the Department of Design and Construction. The department expects to complete the connector in 2019, officials said.

Community Board 10 voted to support the plan on Oct. 19, but it is recommending the city to mitigate the parking loss.

Board members are also concerned about plans to put benches along Wakeman Place that could attract vagrants and criminals.

“It’s sort of a desolate area that doesn’t get much foot traffic,” said Beckmann. “We’ve heard complaints before about drug dealing and possibly prostitution nearby. Benches serve a great purpose on certain avenues but in the overnight hours they can attract trouble.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.