Go ‘West,’ young cyclist! City plans major bike lane on Greenpoint’s waterfront

Go ‘West,’ young cyclist! City plans major bike lane on Greenpoint’s waterfront
The Brooklyn Paper / Gersh Kuntzman

The city plans to turn West Street, a pockmarked 12-block truck route on the Greenpoint waterfront, into a one-way northbound street while adding a bike lane and removing half the parking spaces.

City officials last week revealed the $10-million project, which would include new pipes, a full repaving and a new bike lane connected to the existing two-way lane on Kent Avenue.

But some residents are demanding that all parking spaces be retained, and that making the street one-way will force traffic onto surrounding streets.

“West Street is still heavily industrial — if the city makes West Street one-way, it will have a ripple effect to Franklin Street,” said Community Board 1 Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen Nieves. “And cyclists won’t take West Street — Franklin is going to be the most direct route for cycling commuters.”

The project is the first significant step in constructing the Brooklyn Greenway — a 14-mile bicycle path that will someday run the entire Brooklyn waterfront from Bay Ridge to Newtown Creek — and the first significant reconstruction of the roadway between Eagle Street and Quay Street in decades.

The area was rezoned for residential development in 2005 — but little housing has yet been built on the waterfront.

Instead, West Street has remained quiet, but primarily industrial, used by trucks moving heavy cargo to the street’s factories, warehouses and construction materials yards.

The city’s plan resembles street reconstructions of Kent Avenue, where a two-way truck route was reduced to a one-way street.

Department of Transportation planner Ted Wright acknowledged that some trucks would take Franklin Street after the proposed conversion, but he said that Franklin could accommodate more traffic.

“We’re really excited about developing substandard West Street, and creating a better bicycle and pedestrian stream along the waterfront,” said Wright.

Cyclists are excited, given that currently, they have to look out for trucks and couch-sized potholes.

“It’s kind of bumpy and badly paved — the southern end is horrendous,” said West Street resident Jochen Hellbeck. “I love that the city is thinking about connecting the waterfront and making it accessible to bikes.”

Drivers have been a menace in the industrial-residential neighborhood, killing four cyclists in nearby Williamsburg since August, including Mathieu Lefevre, killed last month after a truck ran over him on Meserole Street.

But even some bike lane supporters said that the protected path could wait.

“West Street will become more important [as a bike lane] when it is connected to Commercial Street and when the area becomes more residential — but not now,” said Milton Puryear of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. “They could have waited a couple of years. But to do it now is not a bad thing in the larger scheme of things.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.