Blocks vs. bikes: Vinegar Hill residents fear cycling route would harm stone streets

Vinegar Hill residents aren’t exactly throwing rocks at bicyclists, but they are pointing to their historic stone streets as a reason to keep a bike lane out of their neighborhood.

Two petitions from the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association attack the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a planned 14-mile bike lane stretching from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge along the water — as a threat to their roadways, and their way of life.

One of the petitions hosted at change.org, demands the Greenway be re-routed out of the small residential neighborhood in order to protect Water Street’s historic Belgian blocks — and prevent a steady stream of cyclists from disrupting the quaint atmosphere of their historic district.

“The use of Vinegar Hill by the Greenway would pose a danger to pedestrians, to motorists, to our Belgian block cobblestones, and to the historic character of our neighborhood,” reads the petition, which had 98 supporters signing on as of Mar. 21.

“[The] Greenway would bring thousands of bikers from all over that would add noise, traffic hazards, and garbage to a neighborhood that currently has none of that,” one signer, resident Kathryn Gurland, wrote on the website.

Another petition by the Neighborhood Association opposes the use of “machine-altered” cobblestones for street repairs in the neighborhood, insisting that only hand-crafted or salvaged Belgian blocks are fit for their landmarked neighborhood. That petition also specifically singles out the proposed Greenway bike lane as a threat to their streets’ character.

Six blocks of Water Street in Vinegar Hill are currently included in the Greenway proposal, but Brian McCormick, the Greenway’s Director of Development, said he’s happy to listen to the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association’s concerns.

“It’s a process that’s been going on for a long time via our public planning workshops,” McCormick said, adding that Vinegar Hill residents are still welcome to present alternatives to the bike path in a public forum.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.