By Dispatch Editors on Monday, December 13th, 2021 at 10:25 am
A new bike lane under construction on Meeker Avenue is slowly progressing.
Meeker Avenue is a priority concern under the city’s vision zero plan. Between 2014 and 2018, the city reports more than 200 injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, and car occupants. Eleven people have died or were severely injured during that time period.
One criticism of the design is the two-way bike lane is far too narrow — this is a typical design flaw in bike lanes created by the city, such as the new lanes created on the Brooklyn Bridge. Nevertheless, ridership on the bridge is up.
Meeker Avenue will extend a protected lane through north Brooklyn, but it won’t actually connect to a broader network. Although unprotected bike lanes intersect the route at Manhattan Ave and Leonard Street, the new lanes won’t connect to the protected lanes at Grand Street. And without the city enforcing the bike lanes with tickets or towing of illegally parked cars, the dangerous conditions may not be improved.
Ultimately, the bike lane will connect the heavily trafficked Kosciuszko Bridge bike. When the bridge was replaced, a large bike lane connecting Brooklyn and Queens was added. However, when it first opened, numerous design flaw revealed how little thought planners had put into the bike lanes. No bike lanes connected the bridge, leaving bicyclists on either side facing dangerous conditions. On the Queens side, little thought was given to how bicyclists would cross the Long Island Expressway, and the bike path includes a circuitous route that descends, then rises, and descends again to navigate around onramps and highway underpasses.
The Meeker Avenue bike lane should help address concerns on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, with the protected bike lane reaching as far as Metropolitan Avenue, where bicyclists can be killed by cars at dangerous intersections far from the new bridge.
In addition to the bike lane, curb extensions along Meeker Avenue will make crossing the deadly highway-like road safer for pedestrians. The extensions will narrow the through lanes, more clearly defining left turn lanes and shortening the distance pedestrians need to cross in the roadway.
Curb extensions are a great way to slow cars as well. They create an optical illusion that tricks drivers into slowing down because they make the road appear to narrow.
Meanwhile, car owners who have enjoyed free, subsidized parking, have come out against the new project. The bike lanes come at the cost of removing parking — free parking — and replacing it with metered parking. There meters will be in effect form 7am to 10pm, increasing revenue for the city. A Change.org petition has had more than 2,000 signatures opposing the project.