DOT to install three bike lanes in and around Downtown Brooklyn this summer

bike laneA cyclist rides through the Jay Street bike lane.
A young cyclist rides through the Jay Street bike lane.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Transit gurus plan to paint a mile’s worth of protected bike lanes in Downtown Brooklyn and nearby neighborhoods this summer, city officials unveiled at a June 18 civic meeting.

The agency will install the two lanes downtown on Smith and Navy streets, and will add the northern stretch of the Fourth Avenue bike lane in the coming months, representatives for the Department of Transportation announced during a virtual meeting of Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee Thursday.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg already announced the coming lanes in January as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Green Wave plan, which aims to build 10 miles of protected bike lanes throughout Brooklyn and 20 miles in other boroughs. However, a projected $3 million cut to the plan in the city’s 2021 budget by de Blasio may force the project to fall short of its goals. 

Still, protected bike lanes are slated for the following thoroughfares:

Smith Street

The agency plans to roll out the new lanes on Smith Street between State and Fulton streets, replacing the temporary plastic bollards officials put there in March to accommodate the surge in bike traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cyclists and safe street advocates have blasted the orange bollards for failing to prevent drivers from illegally parking in the bike lane, which can endanger bikers by forcing them out into traffic.

Similar to the existing bike lanes on Jay Street, the new lanes will be separated from traffic with a painted buffer and parked cars. Two of the three blocks will not have continuous bike lanes on both sides, because of bus stops and the street being only one-way between State and Schermerhorn streets, according to DOT rep Hayes Lord.

Some sections of Smith Street won’t have protected bike lanes.Department of Transportation

The bike lanes between State and Fulton streets were part of the original plans for the bike lane on Jay Street, but construction at the intersection of Schermerhorn Street delayed the project for the last four years, according to Lord. 

DOT also plans to add a new one-block bike lane on Johnson Street between Jay Street and Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard in order to allow bikers to ride to the Brooklyn Bridge’s bike path more safely than at the busy intersection on Tillary Street, the official said.

Along Jay Street, officials plan to make a new painted pedestrian island, more bike racks, and a physical protection for the bike lane at MetroTech, due to rampant abuse of drivers parking in the bus lanes, according to the planner.

The old and the new bike lanes on Smith Street.Department of Transportation

Jay Street will also house a recently-announced busway, which the city plans to install in August.

Fourth Avenue

On Fourth Avenue, planners want to extend the protected bike lane from First Street to Atlantic Avenue — adding to the years-in-the-works corridor that stretches all the way to 64th Street in Sunset Park.

Like the remainder of that lane, the new northern addition will have a bike lane protected by a painted buffer and parked cars.

The design calls for the removal of 77 parking spaces and the city will install metered parking on 11 blocks instead of alternate side parking, according to Patrick Kennedy, another DOT representative.

The current and proposed Fourth Avenue bike lanes between First Street and Atlantic Avenue.Department of Transportation

The city is still working on the largest section of the bike lane corridor between 15th and 60th streets, which was supposed to be done last year but Kennedy said they would wrap that up this year.

“We were hoping to finish the section,” he said. “We got very close last year, we’re hoping to finish the rest of that out this year.”

Navy Street

A one-block section of Navy Street, between Sands Street and Flushing Avenue along the side of grocery emporium Wegmans, will get a new two-way bike lane on the street’s eastern side with a painted buffer and 3-foot plastic flappers.

They will move a bus stop on Navy Street serving three bus lines up a block or around that corner to accommodate the new lane, officials said. 

The section is a popular route heading toward the Manhattan Bridge, but has become a flashpoint between cyclists and drivers with many dangerous pinch points, including when bikers looking to turn left from Navy Street onto Sands Street sometimes ride toward oncoming traffic before crossing.

Navy Street’s two-way bike lane between Sands Street and Flushing Avenue.Department of Transportation

DOT will install the lanes and new guiding markers at Sands Street so that cyclists can safely head west on that roadway, according to another DOT official.

“What you’re going to see is fewer people making that risky maneuver to ride against traffic,” Preston Johnson. “When they have a protected lane, they’re not going to try to weave through traffic the same way they’re doing right now.”

Navy Street from above, with turning markers at Sands Street.Department of Transportation