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Bike lane bluster

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In an age of economic downturn, political discord and social disconnect, one issue more than any other is still able to inflame and provoke.

Of course we’re talking about bike lanes.

Perhaps it’s a reflection of how great most everything else is here in Brooklyn that the only thing left to complain about is cyclists and how their zero-emissions vehicles keep getting in the way of everyone else’s cars.

In Brooklyn Heights, the First Presbyterian Church means that quite literally. Parishioners, frustrated by a lack of parking in the neighborhood, have long received dispensation from the 84th Precinct to park on Henry Street — blocking the long-established bike lane there.

Last week, Assemblyman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) heralded a bold new “compromise”: Church-goers could still park in the bike lane, but only during church hours — not that they parked there at other times.

And this is the compromise?

On Sunday, our reporters saw plenty of near misses, as cars blocked the bike lane, and other cars disgorged passengers. Signs in the windows of the vehicles had placards reading, “Church business.”

Our position: The only “business” on Henry Street should be conducted by the police, who should be ticketing cars in the bike lane. And Joan Millman needs to consult a dictionary.

Meanwhile, in Park Slope, the Prospect Park West bike lane controversy still rages on, thanks in part to the Department of Transporta­tion’s announcement that it might un-install the protected cycle path if the agency decides that it is not working.

Our position: It’s working. The two-way lane did require the elimination of one lane of southbound traffic on the broad avenue, and it has altered the historic “look” of the boulevard between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square. But it has also accomplished its main goal: slowing down cars along the speedway.

Borough President Markowitz, a longtime opponent of this particular lane, used this week’s dueling rallies to lambaste the Department of Transportation as hell bent on “stigmatizing cars.”

“Do we want to replicate Amsterdam?” the blustery Beep asked, referring to the principal city of Holland, where New York has its roots.

Our position: We’ve been to Amsterdam, and a more civilized urban environment would be hard to find anywhere else in the world. And that’s not the legal marijuana talking, it’s the bike lanes — lavish, well-connected, extremely popular bike lanes that make Amsterdam a model for the world.

Our advice to the Department of Transportation? Can we be more like Amsterdam, please?

Today’s news:
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Reasonable discourse

Jacob from Brooklyn says:
Amazing! A reasoned, well-thought out argument that considers the opposing viewpoints and draws a logical conclusion. Well done, Brooklyn Paper.
Oct. 21, 2010, 9:59 am
Daddy Hooray from Gowanus says:
I agree, except for one point. "Historically", Prospect Park West was not filled with 3 lanes of motorized traffic and 2 lanes of parked, motorized vehicles. Prior to the 1950s, it was not legal to park overnight on city streets, thus parking is only "recent history". Prior to the 1920s, there were few motorized vehicles in the city, and certainly not three lanes worth.
I think "historically" PPW was filled with horses (and horse poop) and lots of bicycles (before the advent of the car). And it was probably narrower way back when - check the original drawings of Vaux and Olmstead.
Oct. 21, 2010, 10:07 am
Melissa from Park Slope says:
“Do we want to replicate Amsterdam?” THE HORROR. We wouldn't want people to get lots of exercise and get around on bikes without fearing for their lives now would we? I mean look at all these Europeans and how tortured they look http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/
Oct. 21, 2010, 10:22 am
Gary from Park Slope says:
Daddy Hooray
Actual from what I have heard, until 1951 PPW had a trolley line where the bike lane and floating car parking lane are now located.
Oct. 21, 2010, 10:37 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Exactly Gary. The bikeway has restored that lane to its original car-free status. Hoorah.
Oct. 21, 2010, 10:55 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Then it is time to enforce the laws that govern bike riders.

It is time to have bike training courses for everyone not using training wheels.

It is time to put uniforms on commercial bike riders, and insure them.

It's for the children!

You need a license to drive a car. You should need a permit to bike on the streets, so you don't bike on the sidewalk.
Oct. 21, 2010, 12:10 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
If a few people who live on PPW (or used to, like Beep Markowitz) don't like the way a safer street looks, there's an easy fix -- remove the parking lane nearest the park and replace it with a nice planted median.

Voila -- beautiful boulevard.
Oct. 21, 2010, 1:38 pm
Melissa from Brooklyn says:
I'd honestly rather have a trolley. Wouldn't that be awesome? I could just zip down to the South slope, even in the rain, without worrying about bike parking. Trolleys need to come back. PS is a big neighborhood and without a bike/car it's hard to get from one place to another within it.
Oct. 21, 2010, 2:04 pm
Lance from Bay Ridge says:
It amazes me that this is such a controversy, especially after a bicyclist was killed just a few weeks ago on a street with no bike-lane: a driver in a parked car opened the door into trafic, knocking the cyclist into the path of a bus.

This is the danger we face everyday riding on these streets.
Oct. 21, 2010, 2:16 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Lance, that biker had no light - it was after sunset.

If someone had cared enough to enforce the law about lights after dark, she might still be alive!
Oct. 21, 2010, 2:22 pm
tom murphy from sunset park says:
A shonda! (Did I spell it right?)
Countless arrangements/'compromises' have been concocted in this the Boro of places of worship around places and times of gathering for prayer. Would you have it done differently?
When someone in authority dreams up a new plan that through their own ignorance (or arrogance) interferes with what has been very-long-established practice (tradition, you might say) then they should have the courage to admit it was a bad plan and repair it.
That is what we elect public officials to do, and here it was done. Recognize what has happened!
Oct. 21, 2010, 3:22 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Or, cars require licenses and insurance because they are dangerous.
Oct. 21, 2010, 3:40 pm
H from PPW says:
Isn't it ironic that we are talking about how cool a trolley would be, but because of the bike lanes (and the MTA's incompetence) the B-69 bus route was eliminated. As a result, more people use car service to get to the park. Yes, I know this is anecdotal evidence, but as a resident of PPW this is one of the observations not being addressed.
Oct. 22, 2010, 7:03 am
Mike says:
H, the elimination of the B69 had nothing whatsoever to do with the traffic calming project (which includes bike lanes). Nothing. Saying otherwise is a blatant lie.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:08 am
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
"You need a license to drive a car. You should need a permit to bike on the streets, so you don't bike on the sidewalk."

You need a license to drive a motor vehicle because it is so much more dangerous to everyone else.

"It is time to have bike training courses for everyone not using training wheels."

I'd love to see it, in middle school, with cheap one-speed loaner bikes for those who can't afford them. Make it universal. And since most of the training is how to avoid getting killed by motor vehicles, let's raise the motor vehicle registration fee to pay for the program.

Bottom line, Generation Greed has bankrupted the country, including the transit system, and left it dependent on imported oil, to avoid any sacrifices or even inconvenience.

So you'd better learn to pedal kids, because you won't be able to afford much else. The loss of the bus (which replaced a trolley) and its replacement with a bike lane that is little more than paint is a signpost to the future. And to some, even that is too much to ask.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:35 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
I bicycle and I drive (and I vote). I love the bike lane. But there's a lot the DOT could do to improve safety along PPW for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists. Starting with traffic lights at every intersection where traffic from side streets enter PPW. The lines of sight along PPW make it impossible to see oncoming traffic without pulling part way into the lane, creating a hazardous condition for all drivers now that the lanes are so narrow and it's much more difficult to avoid collision. Traffic lights at the few remaining intersections would eliminate much risk.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:36 am
Aaron from Park Slope says:
I think there should be a compromise here: get rid of the new bike lane on PPW, and ban cars completely from the road inside Prospect Park.
Oct. 23, 2010, 10:59 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Aaron, this would remove the reason for the bike lane -- removing excess motor capacity from PPW to make it safer for everyone.
Oct. 26, 2010, 10:44 am

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