Wythe still ‘Kent’ do it!

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Williamsburg residents castigated city transportation officials on Tuesday night, claiming that the changes that they made on Kent Avenue are not working.

The former two-way avenue has become the city’s second-most-popular bike route ever since it was converted to a one-way northbound street last August. The move delighted cyclists, but residents and business owners on Wythe Avenue, which has received some of Kent Avenue’s southbound traffic, are fuming.

“My wife and I have a 5-month-old, and we’re thinking about moving” because of the traffic, said Michael Reich, who also owns a business on Wythe Avenue and N. First Street and is concerned about safety, noise, and air quality.

A Department of Transportation official told Community Board 1 that new signals will be installed at N. Sixth Street, N. Fourth Street, Grand Street and S. Fourth Street to slow traffic. The official also suggested that there would be new signage on Wythe Avenue to prevent trucks from taking the route.

That did little to allay longtime business owners such as Susan Eisenberg, who said that trucks on N. 11th Street and other blocks nearby were being trapped in by narrow streets and forced to make awkward turns. Eisenberg, who owns a factory on N. 14th Street, accused transportation officials of not listening to community concerns and doing too little to rectify the traffic buildup on Wythe Avenue

“This is bulls—t,” said Eisenberg. “We’ve listened to your presentation year after year.”

One thing that has changed was new data released by the Department of Transportation, which showed that average bike ridership on Kent Avenue increased over the past two years by 64 percent, from 514 to 844, and by an astounding 324 percent on weekends, from 269 in 2008 to 1,141 this year.

The controversy over the Kent Avenue bike lane is certainly not new. Construction of the path and its supposed effects on traffic have created a rancorous debate among neighborhood residents, which has led to arrests and the removal of a popular community board member from her leadership position.

Opposition to the bike lane fomented at a Community Board 1 in 2008, when many residents questioned the need for a bike lane on Kent Avenue. Four months later, CB1 Transportation Committee Chairwoman Teresa Toro was deposed after a flap between community leaders over the bike lane.

Later, pressure from residents over the bike lane and the city’s transit adjustments began to mount when the city revealed plans to turn Kent Avenue into a one-way street last May.

After intense lobbying from South Williamsburg residents, city officials removed a section of bike lanes on nearby Bedford Avenue last December, which encouraged cyclists to repaint it. There were arrests and subsequent debates, and more debates — but the upshot is that we’re still talking about it.

Updated 4:55 pm, July 2, 2010: Includes more context. Thanks, Aaron.
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Reader Feedback

Ron Acher from Williamsburg says:
Traffic on Wythe is now up 600%. This means that more cars and trucks go down Wythe in two hours than bikes that go down the Greenway in a whole weekend.
June 30, 2010, 12:30 am
Elax from Greenpoint says:
I don’t understand Mrs. Eisnberg she is always complaining bashing city agencies etc. can somebody recommend a good doctor to control her anger… according my information she can be controlled only by taking her medication
June 30, 2010, 12:57 am
Josh from BK says:
You think this is bad? Wait until all that luxury (read: car-owning) housing is complete and occupied...
June 30, 2010, 7:46 am
by from Greenpoint says:
the problem is trucks, not cars Harmony. Kent ave was an industrial truck route, now the trucks take residential streets instead. Convenient for the new luxury housing built on Kent, but a nightmare for the long time residents on the residential streets. But as long as weekend cycylists get to do thier thing its ok.
June 30, 2010, 9:45 am
big T from C Gardens says:
Hey Ron.. you may be right.. "Traffic on Wythe is now up 600%. This means that more cars and trucks go down Wythe in two hours than bikes that go down the Greenway in a whole weekend."

and that's sad.. How often are you riding down the greenway?
June 30, 2010, 10:39 am
Dan from Greenpoint says:
Harmony from Bed Stuy says:.....

You bikers are not paying anything to the city like registration, insurance, no business for body shops etc. bikers are not givers only takers!! You should be shame
Of your self for being selfish!!! Bikers like you should move to upstate and not use the streets for free….. Use it pay for it!!!!
June 30, 2010, 10:53 am
Abe from Clinton Hill says:
Great point…. Most of the bikers are not fallowing rules and regulations…the city should start taxing them so roads will be much safer..
June 30, 2010, 10:57 am
Concerned from Absurdland says:
I agree!... I also hate those pedestrians.. they should have to pay when they Jay-walk and No-one ever follows that rule that you should walk to the right.. and strollers.. forget about it.. they take twice as much room.. they should pay a double tarif.
June 30, 2010, 11:49 am
Common sense from C Hill says:
Yeah.. I also think that bikers should pay taxes.. not fair that bikers don't pay city income taxes or property taxes on their homes.. What gives them the right to avoid sales taxes.. I have no idea how they do it.. but apparently Dan from Greenpoint thinks so. Thank god that car registration fees don't actually go to city projects like bike lanes (they don't and never will). Bikers should also have to pay back their health insurance,, since they aren't getting fat sitting on their asses.. and they should have to pay taxes to the car companies that are loosing their business. How dare they be so selfish.

And how about that death rate of people getting killed by bikers! It's gotta be way worse than people getting hit by cars, buses and trucks!!
June 30, 2010, 11:55 am
wily coyote from WillyB says:
The problem is all those fat slob truckers that are spoiling our environment, and these dumb store owners that insist on getting deliveries from those carbon spewing fossils. These store owners need to realize that it is 2010 and get their goods delivered by cargo bike, or move upstate.
June 30, 2010, 11:58 am
Ryan Lee from Greenpoint says:
I'm a cyclist and I'm a giver.
June 30, 2010, 12:03 pm
Tim from Gowanus says:
Dear Car Owners,
Get over it, it's done, we've hit peak oil and what's not spilling into the gulf is quickly being used up. You're not gonna be able to drive to the Dry Cleaners anymore. Soon gas will be so expensive that the only traffic will be trucks, so traffic won't be that bad. The city is trying to put in the infastructure to ease this transition and get people used to bikes and biking. So get a bike, learn to ride it, put some racks on it for shopping, and get used to it. You'll prolly like it better anyway.
June 30, 2010, 12:19 pm
Mr. Cycle to you from Williamsburg says:
What is really upsetting drivers is that they can't go 70mph down Kent anymore.
June 30, 2010, 12:22 pm
henry ford from bay ridge says:
@Tim: Ever hear of fuel cells? Hybrids? The cars of the future are not going to be the carbon spewing monster they are now, and people are going to want to drive them. Especially when the weather is bad. Bikes are fun in nice weather, but they suck in January.
June 30, 2010, 12:27 pm
Harry Paratestes from Williamsburg says:
I am shame of myself!

I think this is awesome, since I am a non-car owner buying a luxury apartment just off of Kent and would so much rather deal with douchey hipsters on ironic bicycles than exhaust spewing truck and car driving jerkoffs. Skinny jeans and bike lanes forever, traffic on Kent never! LOL @ Wythe and Susan Eisenberg.
June 30, 2010, 12:33 pm
Tim from Gowanus says:
Well in January you might have to walk or take a bus.. As for the fuel cells, yes maybe in the "future" but they are 10 to 20 years away from being practical and cheap. As for electric, we are still dependent on fossil fuels to generate that power and it's kind of hard to plug in your car on city streets anyway. Gas will be getting pricey very quickly, come back in read this post in 2015.
June 30, 2010, 12:33 pm
lalaland from kensington says:
So the problem is the bike lanes and not the rerouting of traffic and new stop lights to calm speeding? Is the Brooklyn Paper funded by AAA or something - I can't remember a single positive article about anything related to bicycles despite the fact that anything that reduces traffic, pollution, and infrastructure depreciation would be viewed as a net positive by most rational people...
June 30, 2010, 1:02 pm
judahSpechal from BedStuy says:
Why are bikers so angry? You seems to be taking over the city. Shouldn't you be smiling as you pedal your lard **ses from Borough to Borough. Fat f'ers!!
July 1, 2010, 12:14 am
Jezebel from Clinton Hill says:
The change on Kent from two way to a one way street was the worst decision made. Traffic on Wythe Ave is ridiculous especially right before Driggs when trucks are making deliveries and holding up traffic from passing. Something has to be done. Traffic used to flow smoothly on Kent and they should have just added a bike lane instead of making it one way.Idiots.They must be the same idiots that made a part of Flushing Ave one way also, creating more havoc.
July 1, 2010, 10:02 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Jezebel from Clinton Hill says:
The change on Kent from two ways to a one Way Street was the worst decision made…

I can see you are a very selfish person stop complaining; this is the city give and take!!! Since Kent Ave was rezoned business are just moving to jersey, its changing to residential area, trucks are using union Ave. as a truck rout. Go do some real home work before posting any comments… O by the way Flushing Ave is not a one way at all!! Their sounds like you are not from Clinton Hill……
July 1, 2010, 10:51 am
bicyclebelle from Greenpoint says:
Remember the idea at first was to have the bike lanes AND 2-way traffic, but drivers insisted on having parking, too, which wouldn't fit. That's why Kent is now 1-way. Please don't leave out half the story. Drivers can blame themselves as much as they can blame cyclists.
July 1, 2010, 12:45 pm
Keith from Willamsburg says:
Parking is not a luxury it’s a necessity!!! There are a lot of big families on Kent Ave. the population is growing tremendously! Especially with these new developments etc.
July 1, 2010, 4:10 pm
sarah from bushwick says:
parking is a necessity? by that i assume you mean that cars are a necessity for big families? i see plenty of big families without cars - if you took the bus or the train, you would see them too. you're probably too busy in your car.
July 1, 2010, 7:18 pm
Dan from Gpoint says:
Actually the Kent business owners demanded the parking. And all the condos have parking garages, so they won't be parking in the streets, just moving in, all with cars, 6,000 units have been approved in the past 2 years - Oh yeah, cutting the biggest, soon to be most populated, street in Williamsburg, in half, was a brilliant idea. You people all miss the bigger point, making room for this 1.5 section of the Greenway just put 5 schools in the path of major car traffic and truck route. There has got to be a way to make this neighborhood more livable for everyone. Everyone wants to see bikers ride safely and I am sure that no biker wants to see children's health and lives endangered. This should not be a battle between residents, but people helping each other. We should be fighting for each others, not so selfish. When the Greenway was approved, did no one care the effects that it had on anyone else?
July 2, 2010, 12:59 am
tim from Gowanus says:
F#ck your stupid parking! Where else in society do you just get to live your sh#t in the street.. If I made a big storage box the size of a car, could I just leave it in the street as long as I moved it for alternate side parking??

If you wanna have a gigantic family then move to the suburbs where you can have all the parking you want on YOUR land! But as a life long Brooklynite, Kent avenue is just as much mine as it is yours! So if you get space to park your minivan, I should have space to ride my bike!

We have to chair this city, and ride now cars and car owners have way much more space then the rest of us.
July 2, 2010, 1:48 am
Evelyn from Willburg says:
Tim - What are you whining about? The bikers just got a 35 mile piece of land to ride on - or even when you are not riding it - it will just sit empty, waiting for you whenever you feel like stopping by. A box that big would sure hold a lot of stuff. Too bad that no bikers are really using it, only on weekends - That's a shame. Well, maybe one day. Until then residents and kids will deal with the massive truck route and highway that has been detoured through the middle of the neighborhood. So, Bikers/Cars-1, Families/Lungs-0.
July 2, 2010, 8:01 am
Tim from Williamsburg says:
I bike this path twice a day M-F to the Financial District. I could pay 80 a month for a subway pass, and spend 30 minutes on the subway one way, or I can ride the 20-25 minutes it takes me door to door. That gives me an hour of dedicated physical activity a day.

Sure, it gets cold in the winter, and some days you can't ride due to the snow. But you can ride year round should you so choose.

You have to consider, we're the fattest country on the planet. A lot of Your kids are fat, and some of you are probably fat too. Is this the future of America? I hope not. Get your kids on a bike. Teach them how to ride safe. Things will be alright.
July 2, 2010, 10:45 am
Ken from Greeenpoint says:
If bikers would follow rules and regulations would not be any problem, unfortunately they don’t!! Here you go…bikers stop behaving like bunch of babies,
Start driving and follow rules you will get more respect…
July 2, 2010, 12:03 pm
Tim from WIlliamsburg says:
Ken from Greeenpoint says:
If bikers would follow rules and regulations would not be any problem, unfortunately they don’t!! Here you go…

I get this point, and I support it. However, Have you seen the drivers in this city? Learn to drive and follow the rules, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get down with this line of thinking.
July 2, 2010, 12:24 pm
Alan from greenpoint says:
If so many bikers use the bike path why are the bike path always empty?
July 7, 2010, 12:12 am
Helen from 11211 says:
cb1 could have (should have) stopped it, but instead a pea brained former transportation chair put the kibosh on listening to what the people that have to live on those streets wanted. NAG encouraged its approval without fully researching the impact of it. Transportation Alternatives must be sending Toro roses for life.
July 10, 2010, 4:47 pm
Alyssa from Williamsburg says:
Here is a solution no one has talked about. Keep the bike lane the way it is put a barrier up, maybe some trees to calm the pollution and high asthma rates in the neighborhood in the stripped buffer area. Then change the lane of car parking to south bound traffic. Maybe if the streets were designed for moving people around instead of free storage for the less than 25% of the population who own cars in the city we could have consistent traffic flow for bikes, cars and pedestrians. The trucks aren't parking on the street they are moving along the route and the new developments are building hundreds of spots in off street garages already.
July 20, 2010, 9:52 am

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