New protected bike lanes that span both directions of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge were opened last week by the city’sDepartment of Transportation. The project and the ongoing redesign of Greenpoint Avenue provide a vital bike network connection between Queens and Brooklyn that spans more than 1.5 miles over the Newtown Creek just south of Sunnyside.
“I am excited to see cyclists riding in the new protected bike lane on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “This critical piece of the bike network will now provide a safe connection between Queens and Brooklyn for hundreds of cyclists getting to work or just enjoying a ride around town.”
Some of the first riders to use the new lanes included Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo, who spearheaded the project, and several members of his staff. They rode to the midpoint of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and stopped to speak of the merits of the project on July 2, .
“I’m excited to make this connection between the two boroughs that bring communities together from Williamsburg and Greenpoint and Sunnyside,” Russo said. “Before we had signs at the base of the bridge telling riders to walk their bikes across. Many of the 600 riders per day refused and they’d take their lives in their own hands riding against the heavy truck volume. Now drivers don’t have to be nervous about hitting cyclists because they have their own protected space.”
Russo said the bridge is not a high crash location but a place with high risk. DOT data shows that there were 35 injuries on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge between 2009 and 2013 with two of them involving cyclists, but no fatalities.
“We’re reacting to an influx of residents living in Sunnyside who work in Brooklyn,” Russo said. “Many would choose to use their bikes but worried about their safety. This is now infrastructure meeting the needs of the people drawing more people to it.”
While Sunnysiders have a safer commute to jobs in Brooklyn, the new protected bike lanes may bring visitors from Brooklyn. On the Queens side of the bridge, cyclists can choose Van Damn Street as a route to the waterfront parks, restaurants or the more than 30 cultural institutions in Long Island City.
Or riders can choose to continue on Greenpoint Avenue directly into Sunnyside, a neighborhood that was declared the borough’s first Bike Friendly Business District in September by Transportation Alternatives.
Over 70 businesses offer discounts to the 12,000 Transportation Alternative members as a way to showcase its “eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and cafes,” according to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
“As ridership climbs in our city and the cycling infrastructure grows here in western Queens, Sunnyside hopes to capitalize by highlighting all that we have to offer,” Van Bramer said at the time. “I encourage you to cycle into Sunnyside and take advantage of all the deals offered at our bike-friendly businesses. There’s no doubt you’ll be back for more.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
©2015 Community News Group
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