Brooklyn Chinatown’s Main Street to Become One-Way Thoroughfare

Food traffic on Eighth Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn's Chinatown.

Plans to change Brooklyn Chinatown’s bustling 8th Avenue commercial thoroughfare into a one-way street with protected bicycle lanes is receiving strong pushback from the Chinese-American community.

But the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to push forward with its plan anyway. It calls for both 7th and 8th avenues between 39th and 65th streets in Sunset Park to undergo safety upgrades and then the two streets will become a pair of one-way streets. Seventh Avenue is slated to become a southbound one-way, and 8th Avenue a northbound one-way. Both with protected bike lanes 

But Sunset Park’s large Chinese-American community is particularly vexed about the plan for 8th Avenue as it is the commercial hub of Chinatown, crammed with small businesses, trucks making local deliveries to these businesses, and filled with both foot and vehicle traffic.

“The first response from people in the neighborhood is that we’re talking about the center, the main artery of Brooklyn Chinatown. So if you take away all that traffic space, those lanes, you’re not going to be able to have people and the trucks come in to take care of all the stores,” said Wai Wah Chin, founder of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater New York (CACAGNY). 

The Asian Association of America and members of the community went to the Municipal Transportation Bureau in Manhattan to protest the plan last week. They asked the city government to have their voices heard.   

The issue community members have with the DOT’s plan is that the conversion of the streets to one-ways in the center of Brooklyn’s Chinese community would make it more difficult for small businesses to receive shipments and lead to a lack of parking spaces. 

“Whatever they decide, they have to talk to some of the people that are most involved there not just their pockets of samples that don’t really know as much about the issues,” said Chin. “I know that they included in their discussion a couple of groups but these were not groups that had anything to do with the businesses on the thoroughfare.” 

The DOT responded that they did hold a public information session yesterday. The session was held on Zoom and the DOT did have a translator available. 

But Chin said the meeting was not a conversation and that the DOT just laid their plan out, which can be found here. 

“They were not listening. They were telling what was going to happen as opposed to listening to the community,” said Chin. 

The plan is still expected to move forward. Construction is slated to start sometime in July. 

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