Brooklyn Hates Bike Lanes and the Biking Bikers Who Bike Them

10/20/2010 9:54 AM |

Henry Street and Prospect Park West Bike Lanes

Brooklynites apparently can’t stand that their borough is the best, and thus far most well-equipped (current Queens Plaza refurbishing-pending) for cyclists, with ongoing campaigns to undermine or completely remove one of its oldest, and one of its newest bike lanes, in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope (above left and right, respectively).

From the NIMBYs in the Heights and the olds on the slope on up to the Apple-addicted borough prez, folks just really dislike safe and sustainable transportation.

In Brooklyn Heights, an ongoing dispute over the Henry Street bike lane’s use as a parking lane by parishioners of the First Presbyterian Church around mid-day on Sunday seems to have reached an impasse. A new sign at the site reads: “The 84th precinct has been under considerable pressure from some community members to open the bike lane at all times. We need to support them as they introduce this compromise to the Heights.” Ah, yes, cars not being allowed to park illegally, that old “compromise.” Gothamist notes that at a recent community board meeting, board-member and biker Mike Epstein said: “This doesn’t sound like a compromise at all—it sounds like you’re letting families illegally park in the bike lane on Sundays.” Whatever; nobody bikes on Sundays anyway, right?

Meanwhile in Park Slope, where the awesome new protected two-direction bike lane along Prospect Park West is awesome and has turned what used to be a de facto highway into a normal street that isn’t terrifying, local olds are angry about… not having to hurry across three lanes of high-speed traffic?

Posing for the Daily News on one of the protected pedestrian islands that was formerly a lane for cars, local retirees direct a sign reading “Seniors for Safety” at a cyclist accusingly. Local lane-hater Lois Carswell, 78, provides this nugget of loopy logic: “Now you cross two lanes of traffic, then you go across this weird space in the street and then you hit a two-way bicycle lane on a one-way street. . . . It’s very hard to learn new behavior like that.” The bike lane is then blamed for double-parking motorists and fire engine delays, while a Department of Transportation spokesperson notes that they haven’t seen any cyclist-pedestrian collisions, or any increase in congestion since the lane went in four months ago, but speeding and sidewalk biking are down.

Rounding out the cycle of cycling-hate, Borough prez Marty Markowitz, tells the Brooklyn Paper about how much he hates all these bike lanes by making the unfortunate Brooklyn-Amsterdam bike policy analogy—”Do we want Brooklyn to replicate Amsterdam?”—begging bloggers such as myself to point out that New York is, after all, the New Amsterdam.

New Yorks oldest bike lane, circa 1671.
  • New York’s oldest bicycle lane (circa 1671) predated the invention of bicycles by a century and a half.

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