The city was wrong to remove the Bedford Avenue bike lane

The Brooklyn Paper

The city was wrong to remove the bike lane on Bedford Avenue this week.

As cyclists ourselves, we have often supported the Department of Transportation’s largely successful effort to encourage more bike commuting. But we have also been critical of the city’s sometimes willy-nilly installation of bike lanes in places where they simply do not belong.

For the most part during this surprisingly controversial ongoing story, we have been on the cyclists’ side.

The problem is, it’s not always been so clear what side that is.

In many neighborhoods, the city has laid down bike lanes with a complete disregard for traffic patterns or even a basic consideration of the already dangerous dance between cars and pedestrians.

The bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, for example, cuts through one of the most congested areas of the borough. By putting a bike lane there, the city is, in effect, encouraging bicyclists to take on buses, cars and thousands of jaywalking pedestrians. In this case, we have long argued with cycling advocacy groups and called for the bike lane to be removed.

But in other areas, new city bike lanes have been a boon to bicycle commuting, adding a sense of security and ownership that cyclists long lacked in this car-choked borough. Even in the face of some local objection, we have supported such lanes.

Bedford Avenue between Flushing Avenue and Division Street is just such a case. Along those 15 blocks, Bedford Avenue cuts through a residential neighborhood. Our on-the-ground experience has shown that wide, one-way avenues such as Bedford are ideal places for bike lanes. Indeed, this cycling path already terminated at Division Street, where Bedford Avenue narrows and can no longer safely accommodate bikers.

The Department of Transportation told The Brooklyn Paper this week that the Bedford Avenue bike lane was eliminated because cyclists have been given a superior alternative: the two-way protected bike lane on Kent Avenue, two avenues to the west of Bedford. While that lane is truly outstanding, it is certainly not enough for a neighborhood with one of the highest percentages of bike commuters.

The goal of bike lanes is to encourage cyclists to stick to safe routes. The Bedford Avenue bike lane did just that. The city was wrong to remove it.

Reader Feedback

Just Asking from Downtown says:
What role, if any, did the Hasidic community play in eliminating this particular bike route? This particular stretch of Bedford is all ultra-Orthodox. Was their influence brought to bear on the Bloomberg administration?
Dec. 3, 2009, 9:03 am
tara from greenpoint says:
There's an influential rabbi who lives on that portion of Bedford. He's complained about the bike lane there for years and made a deal with City Hall to remove it. Ask the Mayor and the DOT Commissioner why politics is more important than safety or transportation planning.
Dec. 3, 2009, 9:27 am
Shakira from Williamsburg says:
There are many who are pointing to the hassidic community, but there is also a prominent catholic bishop living on the street - could he be involved?
This could be a very big story, going all the way from the jews up to the pope. Please investigate.
Dec. 3, 2009, 10:32 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
hasdic jaywalkers are a menace to cars and bikes on Bedford
Dec. 3, 2009, 11:12 am
Linda from Williamsburg says:
Dont blame the chasids. Blame the rabble rousers, the sharptons in the community, the average Joe or jane has no problem with the bike lane. Thank you
Dec. 3, 2009, 5 pm
Mo from WB says:
"Bedford Avenue between Flushing Avenue and Division Street"

Division Avenue, not Division street.
Dec. 3, 2009, 10 pm
J. Mork from prospect hts says:
Does this photo represent the completion of the removal?

Because it looks like what is left is an extra-wide parking lane with exactly as much room for bikes as there was with the bike lane.
Dec. 4, 2009, 9:48 am
Jeff from Bed-Stuy says:
Yes, this is what it's looked like all week. That way, when you are occupying the left lane, the motorists think it's funny to pass you on the left by using this space.

This stretch of Bedford Ave is the backbone of my daily commute. I would like to thank the decision makers involved here for wishing an untimely death upon me.
Dec. 4, 2009, 3:25 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
The Satmar made a deal with Mayor Bloomberg during the mayoral campaign. DOT didn't want to remove the bike lane. City Hall made them do it immediately following the election. It was a political deal and the Chasid's votes were put ahead of cyclist safety and a coherent bike network for Brooklyn. Ironically, as the NYT reported right after the election, the Chasidic community didn't even come out very strongly for Brooklyn this time around. We lost a valuable piece of bike infrastructure for nothing.
Dec. 4, 2009, 6:53 pm
Joe from Gp says:
Bicyclists, remember that you have the right to a full lane. Take it.
Dec. 4, 2009, 7:43 pm
FedUp from Williamsburg says:
Women and men...ride your bicycles through these 15 blocks shirtless please. These people think they run this city. These are public streets for all New Yorkers - the Jews in this neighborhood are not the only ones who pay taxes and vote. Everything in this City is to protect them. Please, give me a break.

Ride away! And be safe!
Dec. 8, 2009, 8:01 pm
Rachel from Williamsburg says:
I would describe myself as a Chassidic feminist, here is what should be done. The self desribed leader, or could someone find out from which yeshiva Rabbi Neiderman graduated to become a rabbi, is actually the Al Sharpton of williamsburg. Rabbi Neiderman does not represent me,or anyone in williamsburg that I know. Rabbi Neideman represents himself only, So lets ride the bikes, lets not allow these extremist to dictate us
Dec. 9, 2009, 2:50 pm
Biking Family from Brooklyn says:
Hey! I ride the Bedford Avenue bike lane with my kids! We're neither Hasidic or scantily clad; just a NY family using the bike lanes to ride the city safely. I'll admit, I can't stand it when I am accosted by gaggles of teenage Hasidic girls who come to my Brooklyn neighborhood (which isn't Hasidic) during their holidays to ask me if I'm Jewish. But I would never dream of putting them and their safety at risk simply because I don't like their chutzpah.
Dec. 11, 2009, 10:59 am

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