CB1 Re-Cap: West Street Bike Lane

by Ryan Watson on

At last night’s Community Board 1 meeting, a presentation was given by Linda Reardon of the RBC group, a design firm retained by the NYC Department of Design & Construction (NYC DDC), on the first segment of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI). This 14-mile route would connect Greenpoint to Sunset Park with a series of bike paths and open spaces, incorporating various elements of green infrastructure along the way. The first segment of the project would commence in Greenpoint, converting West Street (between Eagle and Quay Streets) from its existing two-lane traffic to a one-way street. The proposed changes would install a two-way bike lane along the street’s entirety and a “planted buffer” as well as relocate existing above ground utilities to underground locations. In order to expand spacing for the bike path, in addition to the changes mentioned above, the project would change the eastern sidewalk from 15 ft. wide to 11 ft. and remove parking on the eastern side of the street, eliminating roughly 80 parking spaces.

Proposed configuration for West St.

© 2012 The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway: A 14-mile Route Connecting Waterfront Communities & Destinations Presentation

Community member and BGI Board member Joe Vance spoke in favor of the project, maintaining that the new design, particularly the plant buffer, would increase the street’s storm water absorption capacity.

Currently, having completed a formal traffic study and entering the initial design phase, BGI is moving forward to gain approval of the design, while working with the NYC DDC and DOT to submit a final traffic study to the state.

Board members’ questions primarily focused upon the impact of the changes on local businesses, as the street is home to a number of industrial manufacturers as well as film industry businesses. The presenters maintain that they have conferred with local businesses and that the proposed changes would actually widen the roadway, improving the access for larger vehicles.

Community members had a multitude of questions for the presenters about how the planned changes would impact the neighborhood. Many questions were based around the designers level of community input and outreach for the project.

Questions asked include: Paraphrased answers by Reardon and Ted Wright.

  • Who maintains the greenway? No maintenance will be necessary.
  • Will traffic lights be installed? None are proposed as traffic analysis shows none are needed, but are open to adding them if traffic increases.
  • What about the proposed MTA waterfront bus route? To our knowledge, the bus route is still in very early states and the MTA has not responded to our proposal.

Additionally, one resident expressed concern that the change to the flow of traffic–by creating two parallel one-way streets (Calyer and Quay)–would force traffic onto Oak St, a quieter residential street.

Other residents who spoke in favor of BGI’s proposal: Will Elkins, Barbara Vitell (West Street Greenpoint Avenue Association), and a local cyclist. Vitell expressed reservations that there hasn’t been enough community input and that once there is it may too late to alter plans.

Ryan Watson

Ryan Watson

Originally from Los Angeles, Ryan is a relatively new but very proud resident of Greenpoint. He was drawn to Greenpoint by the strong sense of community and history of local activism. Ryan can be found at North Brooklyn Farms, the urban farm at the Domino Sugar Factory, which he co-founded or working in the 61 Franklin Street Community Garden.
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