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City seeks artsy cyclists to help plan new Bushwick bike lanes • Brooklyn Paper

City seeks artsy cyclists to help plan new Bushwick bike lanes

Taking a ride: Bicyclists ride down Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick. The city will give riders a chance to say where they would like new bike lanes at a workshop this weekend.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Talk about street cred!

The city is hoping to get Brooklyn’s bohemian set buzzing about bike safety this weekend by hosting a workshop at a hip Bushwick artist collective, where attendees will get a say on where to place new bike lanes in the neighborhood.

Running the event out of Silent Barn, which is better known for staging weird art shows and avant-garde music concerts, will help the Department of Transportation to connect with a young crowd that often does not get a voice in important city decisions, said organizers.

“The Silent Barn is an institution and they will be able to get a lot of different opinions there,” said artist Sam Polcer, who takes photo portraits of cyclists for his blog Preferred Mode, and will be on hand to offer free snaps of attendees with their rides.

Silent Barn, which is on Bushwick Avenue between Melrose and Jefferson streets, agreed to lend the city its space — and artsy authenticity — because it wants to make improving the neighborhood a larger part of its mission, said the creative cooperative’s community outreach coordinator Andrew McFarland.

There are currently a handful of bike lanes in Bushwick, but the neighborhood is still lacking adequate cycling space along many crucial and heavily-used routes, said Polcer. For instance, the bike lane on Myrtle Avenue — one of the only direct east-west routes in the neighborhood — is in the middle of a driving lane and its painted markings have faded, making it only marginally safer for cyclists than regular roads, he said.

“I would love a protected bike lane on Myrtle Avenue or on any major thoroughfare,” said Polcer, who is also the communication manager for Bike New York, an education and advocacy group.

Many Silent Barn volunteers and regulars would like to see a bike lane running right past the building’s front door, McFarland said.

“It can get pretty hairy out there on Bushwick and we want people to be able to get here safely,” he said.

One frequent Bushwick-bound bicyclist said she is excited to take part in the workshop and give her two cents on how to make the neighborhood a safer place for two-wheeling.

“The more bike lanes there are, the more cyclists use them, the less cars there are, and that alone unclogs roads,” said Clara Flores, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and rides through Bushwick at least three times a week. “The infrastructure needs to make more sense. It has to function like a body, like arteries need capillaries to work.”

The city, which is expecting about 75 riders to attend the workshop, has previously held similar workshops in southern Brooklyn and in the northern hinterlands of Queens, and plans to host more in the future.

Bushwick Bike Lanes Workshop at Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave. between Melrose and Jefferson streets in Bushwick, www.facebook.com/events/1831669733724904). May 9 from 2–5 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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