Islands in the stream: City moves to add sidewalks to scary Dumbo streets

Islands in the stream: City moves to add sidewalks to scary Dumbo streets
Department of Transportation

Dumbo’s most pedestrian-hostile streets are finally getting sidewalks.

The city plans to add walkways to the stretches of road around the supports of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges that force pedestrians to walk in the street. Community Board 2 voted unanimously to approve the plan on Feb. 11. Its administrator said the hair-raising road design is one of the last vestiges of the area’s past, before the condos, art galleries, and tech offices came.

Neutral ground: The corner of Jay and Prospect streets is getting two corner sidewalk extensions, or neckdowns, and a new crosswalk. The image at top shows the intersection as it looks now.
Department of Transportation

“Some of these conditions are left over from when Dumbo was an industrial neighborhood and there weren’t as many people walking around,” district manager Robert Perris said.

The streets’ shift from truck routes to pathways for iPhone-clutching workers and residents began in the 1990s, when developer Two Trees Management put the neighborhood on the map by pitching it as a hub for artists, and offering them discounted rent. Since then, luxury apartments and offices have replaced many of the studios. The massive increase in foot traffic has spurred the city and the local business improvement district to finally add sidewalks where the bridge pillars cut into them.
New and extended sidewalks are planned for the intersections of York and Washington and Pearl and Front streets, which both have stretches where the sidewalks end. The plan also calls for bumping out the sidewalks at Pearl and York and Jay and Prospect streets.

Off-road: The intersection of York and Pearl streets is getting a sidewalk extension that will fill much of the triangular area in the image at top, moving the line of parked cars into the foreground.
Department of Transportation

York and Washington is a particularly sketchy stretch, the head of the Dumbo Improvement District said.

“The sidewalk peters out to nothing over there,” said Kristin LaBuz, director of marketing and events for the Dumbo Improvement District. “It’s a very unsafe pedestrian experience.”

Field-trip friendly: A stretch of York Street leading to Washington Street will be getting be getting a curb extension, as wll as new bike-lane markings. The image at top shows an artist’s rendering of the expanded sidewalk. Currently, the sidewalk ends before the intersection.
Department of Transportation

Five pedestrians have been hit at the intersections since 2009, according to city data.

The plan also called for shared bike-route arrows on York Street, and new crosswalks at each of the intersections, including some paved with granite.

No lines are an island: The city is planning to bump out the sidewalk at the intersection of Jay and Prospect streets as part of a push to make Dumbo’s streets safer.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A larger redesign is in the works, but these changes can be made quickly, LaBuz said.

“There’s still a lot more work to be done,” she said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌[email protected]‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.