Some ‘compromise’! Millman deal allows church parking on Henry St. bike lane

The Brooklyn Paper

The score is settled for parking in Brooklyn Heights: God 1, cyclists 0.

Parishioners at the First Presbyterian Church on Henry Street near Clark Street will continue to be allowed to park in the bike lane during services, thanks to a “compromise” hammered out by Assemblywoman Joan Millman with police officials.

Cyclists, who have complained for years that churchgoers block the bike path, said the “compromise” — which Millman announced at Wednesday night’s Community Board 2 meeting — was anything but.

“This doesn’t sound like a compromise at all — it sounds like you’re letting families illegally park in the bike lane on Sundays,” board member and bicyclists Mike Epstein told Millman. “Why can’t they park legally or use mass transit or alternative transportation like the rest of us do?”

But Millman defended the compromise, which, she said, will limit the bike-lane parking to just 10:30 am to 1 pm on the so-called “Lord’s Day.”

“Hopefully this won’t be much of an inconvenience to bikers,” she said.

When there was continued grousing, Millman replied, “Well, a lot of the choir members are coming from outside the borough” — and then left the meeting.

And “compromise” or not, the church and its Rev. Stephen Phelps aren’t finished with their crusade against cyclists, as made clear by a flier hanging outside the house of worship:

“The 84th Precinct has been under considerable pressure [over] the bike lane,” it reads. “We need to support … this compromise.”

As such, Millman’s deal does not seem to herald the end of the fight over parking outside the church during services, which bike activists and some Heights residents have been calling an accident waiting to happen.

Most cyclists have taken the position that the bike lane is theirs — and it should be theirs all the time. Also, Henry Street is too narrow to ride safely if cars are on both sides of the street.

But churchgoers have argued that there’s simply not enough parking in the neighborhood.

Reader Feedback

Mike from GP says:
This is ridiculous, and Millman's comments are shameful. Just like her weak, after-the-fact support of congestion pricing.

The bike lane will be defended.
Oct. 16, 2010, 7:52 am
Cynic from Downtown says:
The cyclists just need to get some car friends to park in the spots at 10:00 AM or so, until the end of service. Do a little civil disobedience! Eye for an eye and all that.
Oct. 16, 2010, 8:53 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
The poor bikers! This is the ONLY street where they can ride! And this parking goes on for MILES and MILES of the bike lane!
Oct. 16, 2010, 9:29 am
Or from Green Hook says:
The poor drivers! This is the ONLY street where they can park! And the walking required after parking in an actual spot could go on for MILES and MILES!
Oct. 16, 2010, 9:53 am
Phil from Brooklyn Heights says:
I am not a bicyclist, do not own a car, prefer mass transit when possible, and have never been inside First Presbyterian Church. That said, I find the bicyclists' objections to this "compromise" overwrought in its intensity. Perhaps at leastsome of the people who park their cars in the lane are disbled or elderly,or do come from a distance that makes walking unfeasible. Please also remember that on Sundays mass transit is not operating on a rush hour basis. We all live in an urban environment that requires each of us to extend small acts of kindness and consideration to each other. It would seem that that is what is being asked of bicyclists in this instance. Try it! You might actually end up feeling good about yourself. Be careful on the road and remeber to obey all traffic laws.
Oct. 16, 2010, 12:17 pm
PF from Brooklyn says:
Hey .. what a great compromise . how about MY house of worship ??? I have a terrible time finding a legal parking spot there....&.can we extend it to where I go do my hair ??? how about when I go shopping ... and what about when I take my doggie to the vet ,,, I also go to the movies ,,very hard to find parking there ... but the bike lane on the avenue has plenty of open space ... way to go congresswomen J. Millman..
Oct. 16, 2010, 12:23 pm
MPT from Boerum Hill says:
Wow. I bicycle AND go to church--in fact, I sing in the choir at Grace Church, on Hicks and Joralemon, and I get there by bicycle. However, a lot of our choir members and other parishioners live in other boroughs, or farther away in Brooklyn. Can we get some illegal parking made legal for them on Sunday mornings--and for me, when it's raining? What about all the other churches and synagogues and mosques in Brooklyn Heights? They should get free parking too, right? And I'm sure Saturdays, for the synagogue, would be no problem? This just makes no sense. Joan, I'm disappointed in you.
Oct. 16, 2010, 5:48 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
I do recall many years ago that an elderly couple who resided in Concord Village were continually outraged by all the traffic on the street near their home, as well as the constant drone of automobiles going over the Brooklyn Bridge. And then there were the downtown residents who had moved into postcard land from somewhere else, and now wanted to make sure there weren't any tour buses in their neighborhood. If they really wanted a cul-de-sac off a dirt road, they shouldn't have decided on Brooklyn. Churches think god is on their side, and many cyclists need to learn to ride in the real world. They all need to get over themselves.
Oct. 16, 2010, 7:11 pm
Danny G from Queens says:
Just combine the Churchtime parking with "Speed Limit 10MPH" and "No Honking" signs, and it should be a decent solution. If cars can only go as fast as bikes, then everyone can just ride or drive single-file down the narrow street.
Oct. 17, 2010, 12:59 pm
Eddie from South Brooklyn says:
Phil from Brooklyn Heights says: "Perhaps at leastsome of the people who park their cars in the lane are disbled or elderly,or do come from a distance that makes walking unfeasible."
- - -
And perhaps they aren't. (Seriously -- you're basing this on "perhaps some" people in an already-imaginary scenario.)

And perhaps disabled-elderly-distant people attend many other houses of worship, but don't get to park illegally.
-- If this is OK for the Presbyterians, is it OK for every other faithgroup in BH?
-- What about those who don't practice a faith but belong to a nontheist ethical-moral-etc. group? Can they also get an illegal-parking break?
Because if it doesn't extend to those who are similarly inconvenienced, it's unfair and wrong.
But just imagine if it DID extend to everyone.

Plus: Why give EVERYONE a pass, if you're worried re: disableds and elderly? And why the concern re: those from a distance? Is it NYC's job to insure that people don't switch churches when they move?
Oct. 17, 2010, 1:21 pm
Eddie from South Brooklyn says:
MPT from Boerum Hill says: "What about all the other churches and synagogues and mosques in Brooklyn Heights? They should get free parking too, right?"

You betcha. Muslim sabbath is Friday, Jewish one is sunset Fri to sunset Saturday, Adventist sabbath is Saturday, and many Catholic churches have a "Sunday" Mass on Sat pm.
Between those and the Sunday-sabbath churches, that's a potential three days of creative parking by multitudes.
Oct. 17, 2010, 1:42 pm
mo from boerum hill says:
this action gives more rights to church goers than other citizens. that strikes me as a violation of the establishment clause.
Oct. 17, 2010, 8:29 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
In Brooklyn Heights on Friday the PD allows and does not ticket the parishioners going to the Mosque on State Street. Same thing is true at Saturday Services for most Catholic Churches and at most Synagogues on Saturday.
This has always been allowed. Plymouth Church can park on the other side of Cranberry on Sunday too.
You are talking about a couple of hours on a Sunday morning.....
The most discourteous drivers drive bikes for the most part.
On a Sunday Am court street isn't that crowded. there is a new bike lane now that cuts all the way through Brooklyn Bridge park....
Oct. 17, 2010, 11:53 pm
henry ford from deetroit says:
@cynic: Bike riders have no friends with cars.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:11 am
FreeParking from Brooklyn Heights says:
Free parking is a subsidy we can no longer afford. Mass transit users are required to pay for using the subways; why should car owners be allowed to free ride?

The only reason there is a shortage of legal parking is because tax-payer subsidized on-street parking rates are too low. Subsidies cause shortages -- anyone who remembers Eastern Europe in the bad old days knows that.

The City should follow free market principles: charge enough for on-street parking to ensure that there are always a few vacant spots nearby. That way, people who need to drive will always be able to find parking, pollution and congestion will be drastically reduced by eliminating cruising for parking, and there will no longer be pressure to look the other way as scofflaws violate basic principles of courtesy and legality in order to practice their religions of incivility.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:29 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
The problem really has nothing to do with bikes or cars. The problem is that there is a legal process for these things that is being skirted. The church has two legitimate options. They could do A. what ordinarily has to happen in order for an organization to close a moving lane of traffic for an event - apply for a permit from the Street Activity Permit Office for a religious ceremony, and/or B. lobby their community board and elected officials to have DOT change the parking regulations on the block to allow Sunday parking in the bike lane - a safety and need-based determination that would be made by traffic engineers. What has happened instead is political pandering and back-room dealing where the PD looks the other way and agrees not to enforce the law, giving privilege to a single self-interested group and putting other citizens in harms way (remember a bike lane is a safety facility). For shame
Oct. 18, 2010, 10 am
andy from hells kitchen says:
i am a Christian and a cyclist and thought Christians were supposed to obey the laws of the gov't? the law is that nothing should obstruct the bike lane, no?
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:17 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
let's park our bikes on the bike path so the cars can't park there!
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:45 am
Billy from Greenpoint says:
This is a really great separation of church and state problem. Last I checked, the government isn't supposed to provide preferential treatment to particular religions. It's a pretty glaring contradiction, making moot most of the other ——y little arguments about this.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:42 am
Howard from Park Slope says:
How about getting rid of the bike lane?
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:34 pm
Joe from NYC says:
So-called Lord's Day?!?!?!

How shameful and hateful.
Oct. 18, 2010, 1:37 pm
Joseph from Nazareth says:
Hey Rev. Stephen Phelps, what would Jesus do?
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:54 pm
jackrusso from cg says:
looks like i'll have to ride on the sidewalk through there...maybe knock over a few religious idiots.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:57 am
pete from Windsor Terrace says:


As a pedestrian I can't get over the
sense of entitlement car owners feel they have...So selfish
and Laaaaaaaaaazy !



Oct. 19, 2010, 12:14 pm
Bicycle Commuter from Bay Ridge says:
And the Lord said "Let there be $9.00 a gallon for all the lazy fools who forgot to use their legs, Let them free them selves from their pollutions boxes and learn to get around the way I did in My time, that will be good for All" True God loving persons Walk or use a bicycle. Jesus would Never Drive an Car!! Think about it...
Oct. 19, 2010, 3:32 pm
Clint from Brooklyn Heights says:
Joan Millman has lost my vote
Oct. 20, 2010, 5:42 pm
Secular Law Abider from Jesusington Heights says:
Is this Reverend Phelps related to the "God Hates Fags" family of preachers from Kansas? He seems about as sensitive, about as desirable as a neighbor.
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:57 pm

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