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Bridging the gap: New bike lane would help cyclists cross Gowanus, backers say

The city has gone ahead with painting in a bike lane on Willoughby Avenue from Washington Park in Fort Greene until it ends at Broadway in Bushwick. This is the same bike lane that was rejected by Community Board 2.
The Brooklyn Paper / Dana Rubinstein

Getting from Park Slope to the Columbia Street Waterfront District would get a lot easier for cyclists if the city rolls out a new bike lane on Sackett Street, planners say.

The Department of Transportation wants to install 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 — helping bike riders safely get from the brownstone neighborhood to Van Brunt Street.

“The main goal is to improve connectivity in the neighborhood from Grand Army Plaza to the Brooklyn waterfront,” said the Department of Transportation’s project manager Kimberly Rancourt.

The proposed Sackett Street bike path would 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 would extend to Nevins Street, skirt the canal by way of the Union Street Bridge, then swing back to Sackett Street until it hits the water.

The proposal would turn the Union Street Bridge into a two-way cycling conduit, supplementing an existing Park Slope-bound bike path by replacing a painted section of roadway with a westbound route for riders.

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

Bike boosters are thrilled about the new travel prospects, saying that striping a waterfront-bound lane across the canal would make things safer, considering cyclists tend to dangerously ride against the traffic when there are not bike lanes heading in both directions.

“It’s very much necessary,” said Cobble Hill resident Paco Abraham. “I’m very pleased that a logical solution to a constant problem has been reached.”

The city would also extend Union Street’s already existing eastbound bike lane by three blocks, from Henry Street to Van Brunt Street.

To cap it off, the agency plans to install two on-street bike corrals that can hold up to eight bikes each — one in Park Slope, and the other in the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

One could pop up in a current truck-loading zone in front of Union Street’s Rose Water restaurant between Fifth and Sixth avenues, occupying half of a parking space when the loading zone gets shifted, said agency officials.

“I thought that it’s a really great use of dead street space,” said Rose Water owner John Tucker, who was motivated to request the bike corral after the city installed one in front of Fifth Avenue’s Gorilla Coffee last year.

The other bike rack will supplant a parking spot on Columbia Street between Degraw and Kane streets, 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.

Community Board 6’s transportation committee signed off on the plan to implement the Sackett Street bike path, the eastbound cycling path extension on Union Street, and the bike corrals in two unanimous votes. Up next is a full-board vote.

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

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