Fixing Grand Army Plaza (Just Not the Bike Lanes)
Matt Chaban April 20, 2011, 4:34 p.m.
The Bloomberg administration’s quest to tame—or is it to sissify—the streets continues, as the Department of Transportation announced over the weekend that it was moving forward this summer with a re-engineering of Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, that vehicular miasma where Flatbush Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue and Eastern Parkway collide.
As with Broadway or Astor Place, the idea [PDF] is to simplify a tangle of streets and vast swathes of blank asphalt, allowing for a more direct route for cars and safer and more ample space for pedestrians. Numerous new pedestrian
plazas will be created or expanded, including one that hosts a popular Saturday farmers market and another that expands the area around the Soldier and Sailors Arch, creating a more inviting public space in what has long been an underutilized area. These will be offset from the traffic through barriers and the same colored epoxy treatment seen in Times Square.
What will not be set aside is space for a new two-way bike lane on Plaza Street.
Streetsblog suggests this is a response to the ironically named Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, which opposes the bike superhighway on Prospect Park West and just launched a lawsuit against it.
Without the two-way Plaza Street lane, however, GAP won’t be as useful and convenient a hub for bicycling as it could be, and it’s hard to say when that missing piece will get filled in. NYC DOT downtown Brooklyn coordinator Chris Hrones said outreach to Plaza Street residents would continue, and that the city intends to pursue the unfinished part of the project at a later, unspecified date.
But one Streetsblog commenter points out that it is not NIMBYism, but better planning at work in the holdout on the lane as the community and DOT debate whether moving the lane within the plaza is not the better idea:
There is a lot more space inside the circle that could be given to bike lanes, than there is on Plaza Street, and the pairing of bike lanes and ‘through traffic’ makes sense if this city wants to encourage commuter-style cycling. The anticipated Eastern Parkway lane could tie in well with this too.
In my opinion, this is not a capitulation to political pressures; this is an agency smartly recognizing that this is a very complicated part of this city, listening to the voices of the community, and realizing that further consideration needs to be given to find the optimal solution.
Where would Honest Abe stand on this issue? Besides on the northern end of the plaza, of course.