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Ninth St makes way for bikes

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The Department of Transportation kept its word and, almost overnight, added bike lanes to Ninth Street in Park Slope last week.

The lanes for cyclists, which run from Prospect Park West to Third Avenue, were painted on Friday. To make room for them, the DOT eliminated one lane in each direction for vehicles.

Unfortunately, the DOT did not immediately remove the old road markings right away, which created some minor snafus.

“I haven’t seen any problems, but there’s a bit of confusion out there over which lines to follow,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6.

The street was free of apparent problems on a recent weekday morning and it was no surprise to hear a biker praising the new layout.

“I bike down Ninth Street every morning,” said Amy Herrick. “I’m happy about it, because it gives me a lane that’s just for me. I hope it encourages more people to bike.

The city is making it easier for bikers to ride on the streets. As part of Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term green vision, the city will paint 1,200 new miles of bike lanes, up from just 400 miles currently.

But drivers were not impressed. The bicycle trails on Ninth Street mean that people in cars are now confined to one lane on each side of the street.

“The two lanes was a much better flow of traffic,” quipped Eric Daly.

Daly’s complaint might mean things are going according to plan. One of the Department of Transporta­tion’s stated goals in adding the bike lane was also to reduce auto speeds on the lightly used roadway. There were 274 crashes along Ninth Street between 2004 and 2006.

One driver appreciated the safety that comes from separating the two-wheelers from the four-wheelers.

“That buffer of an extra couple of feet is nice,” he said.

But the bike lanes might have unintended consequences for people making deliveries.

“I hate them, because I get tickets for double parking in the bike lanes,” said Orlando, who drives a Pepsi truck.

Orlando’s attitude holds greater sweay west of Sixth Avenue, where Ninth Street becomes far more commercial than it is near Prospect Park. This week, many delivery trucks blocked the bike lane, just as they did before the lane was painted.

The situation provided a flashback to the controversy that resulted after the DOT announced the bike lane plan this spring. The proposal sparked an unexpectedly heated debate in CB6, which eventually endorsed the plan by a narrow majority in May after several contentious meetings.

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