Bike lanes a go! — New path will help cyclists cross Gowanus, backers say

Bike lanes a go! — New path will help cyclists cross Gowanus, backers say
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Cycling from Park Slope to the Columbia Street Waterfront District is about to get a whole lot easier.

Community Board 6 voted unanimously to approve a city plan to roll out a path for two-wheelers on Sackett Street that would connect to an existing Park Slope route and cross the Gowanus Canal on Union Street — giving bikers a safer ride from the brownstone enclave to Van Brunt Street.

“It’s an excellent, carefully thought-out plan,” said board chair and avid bike rider Daniel Kummer, adding that the new route will improve connectivity between the two neighborhoods.

The Sackett Street bike path will begin at the foot of a lane that runs from Grand Army Plaza to Third Avenue, via Lincoln Place and Degraw Street. From there, the route will extend to Nevins Street, bypass the canal by way of the Union Street Bridge, then swing back to Sackett Street on a straight shot until it hits the water.

The Union Street Bridge will be turned into a two-way cycling conduit, supplementing an existing Park Slope-bound bike bath by replacing a marked off painted section of the roadway with a westbound route for two-wheelers.

The bridge — which currently accommodates a single lane of Park Slope-bound automotive traffic — will remain one-way for cars.

Bike boosters are thrilled about the new travel prospect, saying that the new path, which a Department of Transportation spokesman said is slated for July, is much needed in an area that lacks bike lanes in both directions.

“Just as cars need access in multiple directions, so do bikes. The Union Street bike lane offers safe access from Carroll Gardens to Park Slope, but currently there is no viable option for a return trip,” said Cobble Hill resident Dave Paco Abraham, who added that the Degraw Street westbound bike lane is an incomplete path.

“Adding Sackett Street’s lane to the mix changes that formula drastically and reduces the time a rider must spend out of a bike lane and potentially in danger,” he said.

Bike rider Eric McClure of Park Slope hailed the bike plan that will give cyclists a safe way to skirt the fetid canal.

“Adding the contra flow lane on [the Union Street Bridge] adds an important missing piece to central Brooklyn’s bike network, since it’s the only place for cyclists to cross the Gowanus Canal westbound for several blocks to the north or south,” he said. “There’s a significant amount of bike traffic between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, and the new lane really helps facilitate that.”

The new bike plan also includes the extension of Union Street’s existing eastbound bike lane by three blocks, from Henry Street to Van Brunt Street.

Community Board 6 also approved the installation of an on-street bike corral in a current truck-loading zone in front of Union Street’s Rose Water restaurant, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The O-shaped racks, which can accommodate up to eight bikes, was requested by Rose Water’s owner and will take up just half of a parking space when the loading zone gets shifted, said DOT officials.

However, the board unanimously voted against a proposed Columbia Street bike corral, because it would have nixed a parking spot on the block between Degraw and Kane streets. The plan gained unanimous approval from the board’s transportation committee last month.

The bike rack would have been installed in front of the headquarters of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative — the group behind a planned 14-mile landscaped cycling route linking Greenpoint and Sunset Park, which requested the corral.

“I don’t see the current need for bike parking usage that would justify removing a parking space on a stretch of Columbia Street,” said Kummer. “It can be a very difficult place to park.”

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.