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Bergen Street’s makeshift bike lane barricade is back — and this time cops say they’re the ones who built it.
Police at the 78th Precinct say they placed six metal barriers alongside a painted bike lane between Sixth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, protecting two-wheelers from automotive traffic on a roadway where cycling activists erected a similar buffer using traffic pylons this summer
“We put them up ourselves because there were people parking there,” said a police source who works out of the station house at the corner.
The officer says the barrier should keep motorists from blocking the way for cyclists.
“A lot of people would pull up, run into the corner bodega real quick and leave their car in the bike lane, so we just threw that barricade up to prevent that from happening,” he said.
The NYPD barriers hit the street nearly four months after vigilante cyclist Ian Dutton cobbled together his own bike lane median on the block using waist-high pylons — a move he made, in part, because police vehicles often block the path.
Dutton tips his hat to the officers who put up the barricades.
“It’s certainly a welcome sign that the leadership of the 78th Precinct has recognized the unsafe conditions that were created by the persistent illegal parking that was occurring on this tiny stretch of Bergen Street,” said the Park Slope resident.
Even though the boys in blue claim they were the ones who propped up the new barricade, cops will continue to park their vehicles in the bike lane when they can’t find spots on the Sixth Avenue side of the precinct, the NYPD source said.
“We are a police station — we pretty much own the street,” he said. “There are times in a pinch where we have to park there. If there are no other spots and we have to drop somebody off [at the precinct] we will park there. It’s that simple.”
Bike booster Eric McClure says he understands that during emergencies cops must be able to park their rides in a jiff — but he hopes a long-term street fix will keep police out of the cycling path.
“I don’t think anybody on a bike begrudges a police officer for parking in a bike lane in an emergency situation,” said McClure. “But I would hope that the precinct working in partnership with the [city] and community members can find a long-term solution to parking so they don’t have to park in the bike lane.”
Cyclists say they feel safer riding beside the new barrier.
“It makes our lane accessible now. Before it just wasn’t,” said active two-wheeling Crown Hights resident Jessica Cruz, who pedals to Boerum Hill daily. “There were always cars parked here and we were just thrown out into the street — cars go pretty fast around here.”
Cyclist Stuart Garber of Prospect Heights says the protected lane makes biking less scary.
“Riding through the city you are always on alert — you always fear that you’re going to get injured in some way,” he said. “The barricades put me at ease.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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