Consortium of city agencies and community groups initiate data-driven study to ensure sustainable, equitable development of the Greenway
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) announced today the launch of a comprehensive User Study of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway that will measure the mobility, environmental, economic, health, and social impacts of this vital public infrastructure. The study will use a computer vision sensor and data platform to document for the first time how many people use the protected pedestrian and cycling route and how. Field research will clarify who is using the Greenway and compare recreational use versus commuting or connecting to transit, or other purposes documenting distance traveled, frequency of use, illuminating the Greenway’s role within the borough and New York City’s larger mobility system.
“The Greenway is meant to serve all ages and abilities,” said Terri Carta, Executive Director of Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. “For too long, implementation of New York City’s greenway network has been opportunistic and reactive to other capital projects and public works. This study will generate the data we need to take a more strategic approach. To understand how the Greenway can contribute to a more resilient and equitable borough, we need to know who is using it and how.”
“For example, there may be neighborhoods or whole communities not benefiting from the Greenway today. This study will close the knowledge gap between the anticipated and actual impacts of the infrastructure, enabling BGI and our partners to complete and maintain the Greenway in a way that delivers equal benefits to all Brooklyn residents, employees, and visitors,” Carta said.
Partners will work with Brooklyn-based data company Numina, which has documented use along one portion of the Greenway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 2019, to measure the volumes, movements, and interactions of cyclists, pedestrians, and other travelers along the Greenway. This level of data will demonstrate how the Greenway’s first- and last-mile bike and pedestrian connections impact greenhouse gas emissions, transit ridership, access to parks and open space, and other key metrics. The first-of-its-kind study will also serve as a replicable model for planning and operations of other greenways and similar trail connectors throughout New York City and State.
BGI will conduct the two-year study in partnership with local communities, multiple Brooklyn-based organizations, and public agencies including the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks), and Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Regional Plan Association (RPA) will serve as the project’s research partner, designing methodologies for data collection and analysis, and collaborating to produce a final report of recommendations to educate elected officials, stakeholders, and the public at large on the impacts of the Greenway. Numina, the developer of the data platform and vision sensors, will manage their deployment. A Technical Advisory Committee and multiple government and community partners will guide and support the project.
The Greenway User Study is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with additional support generously provided by the Altman Foundation, NYC Council Member Brad Lander, Two Trees Management, Industry City, HK Organization, and others.
“The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is a vital piece of Regional Plan Association’s proposed Five Borough Bikeway, and both are essential components of a carbon-free New York City,” said Rob Freudenberg, Vice President for Energy & Environment, Regional Plan Association. “By illustrating the Greenway’s relationship to greenhouse gas emissions, this study will show us how to maximize the potential of this green infrastructure as the region adapts to climate change. Regional Plan Association has been collaborating with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative since 2004, and we thank NYSERDA and all the groups supporting this project for enabling us to take the next step with this innovative User Study.”
“We are excited to embark on this innovative project with Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to create a new protocol for evaluating greenways, especially when our numbers from the Greenway show unprecedented increases in usage during the pandemic, in particular among bicyclists,” said Tara Pham, Chief Executive Officer of Numina, which is headquartered in Brooklyn and measures sites in more than 20 cities on 4 continents. “Hopefully, getting on a bike, out of necessity, has reminded New Yorkers how fun and freeing riding a bicycle is, and how easy it is to make it part of their day-to-day. The data already supports a notion that people are very ready and willing to adjust their commute to include walking and biking, on protected infrastructure like the Greenway — which bodes well for more aggressive multimodal approaches to fighting climate change in New York, over all.”
“The New York City Department of Transportation is excited to partner with Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to kick-off the Greenway User Study,” said Ted Wright, Director, Bicycle Unit, NYC Department of Transportation. “The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway facility serves New Yorkers’ transportation, recreation, and social needs, but to this point we’ve only had the ability to capture snapshots of daily use at single locations. The opportunity to take a comprehensive look at travel and usage patterns for multiple modes, across the entire Greenway, and for 365 days will transform our understanding of the Greenway as a City asset, and add a quantitative dimension to the benefits of the Greenway to match the qualitative benefits New Yorker’s have come to know.”
“The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is a vital resource for commuters and leisure riders alike, offering an excellent avenue for alternative recreation and transportation,” said NYC Parks’ Chief of Policy and Long Range Planning Sarah Neilson. “We are excited to see the results of this extensive research project which will allow us to better understand the usage of the greenway and help to support riders both now and in the future.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park is proud to operate and manage a one mile stretch of the Greenway. This vital Brooklyn route provides safe, fun, and environmentally friendly access to and through the Park – especially now as people are looking to be outdoors as much as possible,” said Eric Landau, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “As a sustainable Park, we are proud to partner with organizations working to improve assets like the Greenway for all New Yorkers and visitors.”
“As the City looks towards the future, it is committed to investments that put equity at the center,” said NYC Economic Development Corporation Senior Vice President of Asset Management Winthrop Hoyt. “This study is a major milestone towards achieving that goal. We are proud to support Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in its goals of creating a more sustainable city. Thank you to all of our partners for working together to make this happen.”
About Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the development, establishment and long-term stewardship of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway – a 26-mile protected and landscaped route for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages and abilities that, when complete, will connect Brooklyn’s storied and iconic waterfront, parks and open space, commercial and cultural corridors, and new tech and innovation hubs for 2.65 million Brooklyn residents, over 1.1 million people who work in Brooklyn, and more than 15 million annual visitors from across the City and around the world.
Founded in 2004, BGI works with community, non-profit, business, and government partners to create and fulfill a comprehensive vision for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, while at the same time building awareness and support among residents and employees who live and work along its route.
Since its founding, BGI has channeled more than $218 million in public and private investment toward implementation of the Greenway, leveraged public and private investment of $2.38 million toward the creation of the Naval Cemetery Landscape as a new park-like space and memorial meadow adjacent to the Greenway, and conceptualized or supported the development and stewardship of other open spaces and public amenities along the Greenway. Approximately 18 miles of completed Greenway are actively used by an estimated ten thousand cyclists and pedestrians daily.
BGI hosts numerous public events and programs designed to activate the Greenway and Naval Cemetery Landscape, foster critical support and stewardship for this vital public infrastructure, and build awareness and engagement of BGI as the organization dedicated to their long-term care.
CONTACT: Shreema Mehta, 631-747-6382, email@example.com