The Battle Over the Bedford Avenue Bike Lane

12/08/2009 12:44 PM |

bedford avenue bike lane

So in case you’ve been living under a rock, or not among a healthful number of cyclists, here’s what’s going on: Months ago, when it was decided, despite much opposition, that a two-way bike path would be put on Kent Avenue, some residents of South Williamsburg conceded that this wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world, if the bike lane on Bedford Avenue were removed in exchange.

Now that the Kent Avenue bike lane is up and running, the typically pro-cycling Department of Transportation caved last week and went and removed 14 blocks of the Bedford Avenue bike lane between Flushing Avenue and Division Street. Already, at least two attempts have been made by local cyclists to repaint the bike lane—on Friday of last week and early yesterday morning—the latter of which resulted in the arrest of two men by the area’s Shomrim Patrol and police; and a sweet DIY bike lane (pictured).

Today a YouTube clip appeared on NY Daily News showing Monday’s rogue urban planners—”a mix of hipsters and Orthodox Jews”—re-applying some of the bike lane.

Now, besides the fact that bike lanes are not bargaining chips and adding one somewhere doesn’t mean removing another elsewhere, the section of Bedford Avenue where the lane was removed is probably the most dangerous stretch of street for cyclists in North Brooklyn. The bike lane didn’t make a huge difference—it often functioned as a double-parking lane—but at least there was a space for cyclists on a stretch of road otherwise ruled by school buses, mini-vans making frequent stops and traffic hurtling off the BQE.

Removing the lane, aside from looking like a cheap ploy by the city to regain the favor of the area’s Hasidim voters, is a huge step backwards. It negates the benefits of the Kent Avenue bike lane, which I ride every day and is awesome, sure, but Kent was never nearly as bad as Bedford for cyclists. Bikers aren’t going to stop taking Bedford Avenue, especially given that until Flushing Avenue it has a very good bike lane. Hopefully the city will realize it’s made a huge mistake and put the bike lane back in before any cyclists die or a fight breaks out during the next rogue re-painting.