The separated bike lane idea came out of a Transportation Alternatives town hall attended by Councilman Steve Levin

Activists: ‘Wall off the Jay Street bike lanes’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Jay Street is a treacherous stretch of asphalt that sends cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians, on a collision course every hour of the day, but a couple of barricades could make it a whole lot safer, road safety advocates said at a meeting on Monday night.

Downtown and Dumbo residents called for the city to install a protected bike lane along the length of the arterial Downtown road, whose current bike lanes were voted scariest in Brooklyn by our readers in 2012, during a brainstorming session about how to improve the roadway hosted by car critic group Transportation Alternatives at Downtown’s MetroTech Center. The 17-block thoroughfare continues to be a danger zone thanks to rampant U-turns, double parking, and buses crossing the bike lane to pick up passengers, according to the group.

“The street just isn’t working for all the people that use it,” said Miller Nuttle, an organizer with Transportation Alternatives. “This grew from a rising chorus of demands to make Jay Street safer,” he said of the forum.

The traffic-calming meeting comes as Mayor DeBlasio is pushing his Vision Zero plan in an effort to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024. Transportation Alternatives hopes that the newfound political momentum behind street safety will help a Jay Street redesign make it onto the desk of new transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“Under the banner of ‘Vision Zero’ hopefully Jay Street can rise to the top of priorities,” said Nuttle.

A pitch to install physically separated bike lanes along the 17-block length of the street in both directions drew the widest support of the evening, but an array of other rejiggering ideas were floated, including easy solutions such as better road markings and more complicated undertakings such as pedestrian overpasses or an outright parking ban.

Participants also put markers on a giant map of Jay Street, indicating the spots they use the most and places that give them the most trouble. The intersection at Tillary Street was the biggest offender, with complainants citing drivers exiting the Manhattan Bridge competing for territory with cyclists and with pedestrians heading towards McLaughlin Park.

People also griped about rampant double parking along the whole road, from Dumbo to the Fulton Mall. Scofflaw parkers — police cars outside the courts included — clog up the works, which is not a matter of moving lanes but of cops enforcing the law, attendees said.

“I think enforcement is humongous,” said Kenneth Nelson, who lives in Crown Heights and works Downtown. “I don’t know where enforcement went.”

Cops have recently come out in force to cite pedestrians, not cars, for contributing to unsafe street conditions, handing out 97 jaywalking tickets in the first two months of this year, more than five times the number of the same period in 2013. Officers were spotted staking out Jay Street near Livingston Street on March 7 as part of the police department’s jaywalking ticketing blitz.

Councilman Steve Levin attended the meeting and told the crowd of about 50 people he agreed with the premise that Jay Street is a mess.

“It’s been so long since it was re-imagined,” he said. “It’s outdated.”

Levin did not back any particular fix.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Great idea. Hopefully they will include a concrete barrier that rises out of the ground and blocks the cyclists from blowing through the red light in front of MetroTech center. I see cyclists go through red light there at an alarming rate. Whole place is a mess, but cyclists are far from innocent
March 11, 2014, 3:54 am
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
making this a no parking zone is not a good option. All no parking means is that these spaces are reserved for cops and court officials. A class A walled off bike lane is the only thing that would work but they cyclist have to do their part. Lots of pedestrians cross these streets
March 11, 2014, 6:09 am
Mike Bike from NYC says:
A "crowd" of 50 in a borough of 2.5 million? How many of those 50 even live there? Or is it just the same group of TA "advocates" who show up just about every community board meeting in the city?
March 11, 2014, 9:17 am
Brooklynite from Downtown says:
Where do you think TA advocates live? I am one and I live just down the street from Jay Street, which means I can't avoid taking it to and from work when I bike or drive.

I salute these advocates for getting off their butts and doing something about a very dangerous street. Some people just whine, others do something. Keep up the great work!
March 11, 2014, 9:26 am
Cyclist from Bed Stuy says:
Swamp Yankee, I am one of those cyclists who basically never runs lights, but every once in a while I find myself there at that very intersection, next to a very aggressive driver who is first in line or a driver who is trying to use the parking and/or bike lane as a passing lane to get around the line of cars waiting at the light. In that case in order for me to be safe, ironically, I have to do what is generally deemed as the unsafe thing, and run the light only in order to get in front of the aggressive drivers who may otherwise run me over if I were still at that intersection when the light turns green. In general that intersection never has cars crossing or entering Jay from the cross street. I definitely don't advocate just blowing through lights or even going through one even after stopping, but at this intersection in particular I can understand people wanting to get in front of the drivers here and arrive at the next light ahead of them, which they tend to wildly speed towards without any regard of the safety of everyone else around them. Because of the fact that this intersection is so unsafe and I really do hate running lights, and I generally feel unsafe waiting at the light, I actually just avoid the street entirely and take an alternative route. If the bike lane were to be separated and the traffic pattern were made more safe for cyclists and pedestrians I'm sure far fewer people would feel the need to take their safety into their own hands by running that light.
March 11, 2014, 9:35 am
Brandon from Sunset Park says:
@Swamp Yankee:

Jay St is the best way for people from quite a lot of Brooklyn to cycle to the Manhattan Bridge, you don't have to live near Jay St to use it.
March 11, 2014, 10:02 am
Ben Kintisch from Bed Stuy says:
I attended the forum and it was excellent. People who walk, bike and drive along this dangerous road have come together to make it safer.

Part of Vision Zero is moving forward boldly with street redesigns that make everyone safer.

Protected bike lanes and a protected busway would go a long way to improve conditions for the hundreds of cyclists and thousands of bus passengers who travel this road daily.

Given the current dangerous conditions, it is somewhat amazing there hasn't been a death on this street in the last decade. However, there have been several hundred serious injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians due to unsafe conditions.

When we redesign streets to be safer for all road users, we prevent needless deaths and injuries to our most vulnerable road users.
March 11, 2014, 10:34 am
jeanwheels from Bay Ridge says:
Keep in mind that if you have a wall blocking access to vehicles reaching the curb that Access-A-Ride will not be able to drop people with disabilities off or pick them up in front of their location. A plan has to take all stakeholders into account.
March 11, 2014, 10:40 am
ty from pps says:
Separated and protected bike lane doesn't necessarily mean a wall, jeanwheels. In fact, it very very seldom means a wall. It's usually a permeable barrier like bollards and/or a lane of parking.
March 11, 2014, 11 am
A.S. from Boerum Hill says:
I live just a few blocks east of Jay St, and often commute by bike through Jay to the Manhattan Bridge during rush hour (and sometimes have to drive there too).

It's a terribly chaotic street. A two-way separated bike lane sounds like a really good idea.
March 11, 2014, 1:09 pm
Peter Engel from Fort Greene says:
Got tired of waiting for this to start and had to leave @7pm. Sounds like some useful things came out of it. Was Tal there?
March 11, 2014, 1:46 pm
ty from pps says:
(We should have our daily stupid comments from Tal in the next 1/2 hour or so.)
March 11, 2014, 2 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
As the T-Bone lives in the nabe (that's for you DH xoxo), I wanted to be there, but I had a prior social appointment. My calendar is full, but I digress...

Agreed with what people are saying. Jay St. is also the illegal U-Turn capital of NYC. Another thing that gets my goat is the MetroTech that runs under the cantilever buildings. It is the most un-pedestrian friendly street in the area. You cannot even walk on the sidewalks because it's blocked by useless bike racks that MetroTech setup and parked cars. I call the bike racks useless because if you park your bike there for more than an hour it will get stolen due to it's hidden location and at best MetroTech will leave an angry note on your bike. Even if you avoid walking down this street, you risk your life crossing with the crosswalks at Lawrence or Bridge street entering into the MetroTech Commons. Cars, and even MTA buses, shoot through the stop signs without slowing down. BK Paper, you should do a story on this street, you wouldn't have to even leave the block since you are shacked up in the 'Tech. You could get me to pose in a picture pointing at the street like you like to do in every article. "OK, now point to the street like you're mad..."

And now, in a moment of feeling peaceful today, I will actually back up what Swampy is saying about the non-intersectioned crosswalk in front of 1 MTC. (He's usually a turd burglar, but he made a half-sensible comment, so I will return the favor). Cyclist do blast through the peds there. And this is coming from an avid cyclist and card carrying TA member. Yes, the reason why us cyclists "run" reds is because, as cyclist from Bed Stuy mentions above, it's usually the safe thing to do. But people really blow through that crosswalk. It's probably because you have to keep your eyes open to avoid illegal U-turn livery cars trying to make their way back to the Fulton Mall to pick up illegal hails.

Yeah, this street is a mess. Let's not even talk about the meat grinder it becomes as you approach the Manhattan Bridge.
March 11, 2014, 2:21 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
I was talking about "MetroTech Drive" in the second paragraph above.
March 11, 2014, 2:23 pm
Tal Rabinowitz from Pleasantville, NY says:
There should be no changing anything on Jay Street until everyone including cyclists stop flouting the laws. Why is it that everytime there's a problem the answer from people is to redesign the street when what is really needed is just for people to learn to respect the law? And yes that means you too even if you ride a bike. Obviously if someone is making a u-turn it is because they have somewhere important to be that means doing something annoying. I don't see why you should care that much about it if it doesn't affect you or if you don't live here. Let the people who live on Jay Street make up their own minds about what should be done. I don't need to tell you that putting up walls isn't a good idea in most of the world.
March 11, 2014, 3:13 pm
ty from pps says:
March 11, 2014, 3:37 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nice impersonation ty...............................NOT!
March 11, 2014, 5:36 pm
Nathan Tempey (Brooklyn Paper) says:
T-Bone, thanks for the suggestion.

A few questions: Do you have suggestions for how the road could be improved? Do you know others who share your concerns? And have you done anything to advocate for modifications?

Send me an e-mail if you have answers to any of these or would like to discuss further.
March 11, 2014, 6:36 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Personally, I think the separated bike lane is a bad idea for Jay Street. I have seen this street numerous times in the past, and it's already hard to drive in with that idea. Of course, Steve Levin is known for having an anti-car bias, and I have never heard him call out cyclists and pedestrians that do similar actions, but rather stay mute on that issue. Although I do believe that it's wrong for cops that park in those lanes, it still doesn't give the cyclists a reason to flout the laws themselves. Right now, I feel that there is more important things that taxpayer dollars should be going to rather than creating a protected bike lane that will hardly ever by used by a lot on a regular basis hence a boondoggle.
March 11, 2014, 6:45 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

Thanks for visiting. How many times did you really see Jay Street?
March 11, 2014, 8:39 pm
jay from nyc says:
This is a bad street, but I am thinking that putting up a mini berlin wall will only create new problems, not to mention it just sounds ugly.
Seems to me that the proper thing to do is put police on the street and bust people who are not following the rules. Enforcement actually does work.
March 11, 2014, 9:06 pm
ty from pps says:
Folks do know that the only mention of a wall is in the "creative" headline provided by the Brooklyn Paper...
March 11, 2014, 9:24 pm
Tyson White from UWS says:
Tal from Peasantville: You forgot to mention Hamas and the Israelis in your argument per usual. Did you suddenly wake up and realize how absurd it was?
March 11, 2014, 10:14 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal also forgot to make his usual mention of Animal Farm, the one book he's read.
March 11, 2014, 10:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I take it you guys forgot to take your decaff last night, which is what makes a lot of you say very condescending remarks at others.
March 12, 2014, 6:19 pm
ty from pps says:
Just you, Tal. Just you.
March 12, 2014, 7:12 pm
Peter Engel from Downtown Brooklyn` says:
Tal is a masochist. When he looks up the word, he'll learn it means that he enjoys being abused by others. Otherwise he'd keep his ignorant ideas to himself.
March 14, 2014, 12:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I can see that some just don't know how to keep their egos to themselves like Peter [Pan] Engel.
March 14, 2014, 2:53 pm
Tyson White from UWS says:
I wonder what Tal from Peasantville would think of re-opening the Ben Yehuda Midrachov to cars. And how the businesses on that street would feel about the same. Time to expand our imaginations beyond the narrow view of the automobile windshield.
March 15, 2014, 7:01 pm
ty from pps says:
I've strolled down Rachov Ben Yehuda in Jerusalem several times... I always thought it would have been much better with cars. I mean, those businesses are really suffering. How do people get to them?!

And it's even worse since I've been to Jerusalem last... Jaffa Road is now closed to cars!! Can you imagine? The only thing allowed is the streetcar and pedestrians! Are the Israelis actively trying to ruin their country!?
March 16, 2014, 12:33 pm

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