City putting the squeeze on Kent lead-foots

City putting the squeeze on Kent lead-foots
Department of Transportation

The city plans to narrow several blocks of Kent Avenue to keep drivers from speeding after exiting the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

The traffic calming proposal for the stretch of road between Williamsburg Street West and Clymer Street was prompted in part by the March deaths of Raizy and Nathan Glauber, newlyweds who were driving down Kent Avenue when a speeding cabbie hit them on Wilson Avenue. One Williamsburg resident praised the changes.

“It will cause inconvenience, but if it saves lives, it is a good thing,” said James Planert, who often walks along the avenue.

The proposed tweaks include moving the Williamsburg-Bridge-bound bike lane off the sidewalk to create a two-way bike path on the East River side of the road. The bike highway would be separated from car traffic with a barricade and drivers travelling in opposite directions would be divided by a seven-foot-wide median.

The city has installed new traffic lights and crosswalks where Kent Avenue crosses Wilson and Hooper streets over the past few months

A study by the city found that four-fifths of drivers speed when headed towards the Williamsburg Bridge on Kent while just a quarter of drivers speed going the other way. The problem is exacerbated by the street having two lanes heading bridge-ward and the lane facing the expressway appearing wider than it is because of the median-less bike and parking lanes, according to the city.

Moving the sidewalk bike lane will also give pedestrians more elbow room on an increasingly congested stretch. Biking on the Kent Avenue lanes increased by two-thirds on weekdays between 2008 and 2010 and by more than three times on weekends during the same period.

Both Community Board 1 and 2 have approved the changes. The city says it will begin construction on the road in the spring.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.