Photo: Google Maps.

Brooklyn drivers could lose 680 free parking spaces under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway if plans by the Department of Transportation to increase bike lanes and pedestrian paths are fulfilled.

The plans call for the removal of the spots between Apollo St. and Metropolitan Ave. to make way for a new two-lane bike path, extended pedestrian space and 400 parking meters.

Although hundreds of parking spaces will remain intact, they will be transferred to metered parking which will cost $1.50 per hour from 7:00am to 10:00m Monday to Saturday.

The DOT says the new plans are designed to increase street safety, build bike path connections and activate space under the BQE. According to the plans, the upgrades reduce conflicts with new, safer crossings and increase safety for all road users.

Currently, the department says, the area is a high crash corridor with 11 people killed or severely injured in a five year period, ranking in the top third of Brooklyn corridors. It adds that there are no dedicated spaces for cyclists or pedestrians and the area has become an underutilized space with abandoned vehicles underneath and illegal dumping.

Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit that promotes public transport, walking and cycling, backed the project, according to Greenpointers. Juan Restrepo, a Senior Organizer at Transportation Alternatives told the publication that free parking was not a right.

The car-centric status quo has failed New Yorkers, and we are proud to have worked on this plan with a broad coalition of local community groups and elected officials, he said.

This investment for Meeker Ave has been in the works since 2015 and was unanimously approved by the local community board this past May

He said as the community cleaned up after the climate crisis-fueled flood and faced the deadliest year for traffic crashes since 2014, we need to redesign streets to get people out of cars and keep New Yorkers safe.

However, not all community members back the plan.

Meeker Ave. Neighbors has launched a petition that says the plan is bad for the environment, bad for working people, and bad for our neighborhood and that it will create more congestion and increase emissions as residents circle blocks searching for parking that doesn’t exist.

It also argues that the plans would limit transportation options for people who relied on personal vehicles for their daily commute in transit-poor areas, the elderly, the disabled, and blue collar workers, and displaces the homeless population residing under the BQE without any plan. So far the petition has attracted 1,030 signatures.

The DOT plans say work on project will start at Kosciuszko Bridge this fall.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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