Cyclists: Ocean Avenue now for cars

Bicyclists are panning changes recently implemented by the city on Ocean Avenue that have made the thoroughfare — which leads directly to Prospect Park — more difficult for them to ride on.

In October, the city’s Department of Transportation added a central striped median and left-turn bays at 13 intersections along the strip, between Foster and Parkside avenues, but in so doing narrowed the lane, which had once been wide enough for motor vehicles and bikes to ride side by side. The result is a street on which cyclists and motorists can no longer ride safely next to each other, says bike-rider Murray Lantner, who commutes to Manhattan daily by bike from central Brooklyn.

“I used to bike on the street a lot, but now I stay away from it because the lane has been pushed to the right, and cyclists very much to the right,” Lantner said, stressing that cyclists need to be about four feet from parked cars to keep from getting hit by people getting out of cars on the street side.

The irony, he added, is that the changes made by the city have turned a street that was safe for cyclists — and that he had suggested to the city be revamped with the addition of bike lanes — into a pedal-pusher’s nightmare.

But the city says the changes were made in the name of safety. Transportation officials have been narrowing lanes and adding safety zones on streets around the city as a way of slowing traffic down, and making the streets more hospitable to pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists.

The city has also taken the often controversial step of expanding its bicycle lane network, sometimes over the jeers of motorists, as part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for 200 miles of new bike lanes over a three-year period, with 50 miles of bike lane each year after that until 2030, when the bike network is expected to be finished.

Contacted for comment, Transportation officials said that Bedford Avenue — which has a dedicated bike lane in each direction — is just a few blocks away from Ocean Avenue. A spokesman for the agency also said that officials would look into whether the agency had received any complaints about the changes along the strip.

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