They’re going to protect cyclists from cars — with cars!
The city plans to make cycling on notoriously hairy Jay Street safer by creating new curbside bike lanes that are separated from traffic by parking lanes. Local pedal pushers have called for actual barriers to protect their paths in the past, but say this solution is still streets ahead of the current mess.
“More protection is better than less, and this is better than what we have so I think it’s a win,” said Park Slope resident Doug Gordon at a Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting on Tuesday evening — one of around 2,400 cyclists who traverse the treacherous thoroughfare each day.
The panel voted 13–1 to approve the new lanes between Fulton and Tillary streets, and 11–3 from Tillary to Sands streets, after transportation department reps unveiled them to a packed house that piled in to hear, debate, and live–tweet the long-awaited proposal.
The five-foot-wide lanes would replace the current paths that run alongside regular traffic and are frequently blocked by motorists driving, turning, and double-parking their cars, buses, and cabs — resulting in a shambles of bikers, pedestrians, and drivers trying to dodge each other with sometimes tragic results. One cyclist died and 270 people were injured on the arterial roadway between 2010 and 2014, according to city data.
But some locals argued that moving the bike lanes won’t stop scofflaws from using them as parking spaces, claiming news crews, city employees, and police officers with placards often park wherever they please with impunity — even though the special permits do not allow them to block bike lanes.
And two-wheelers will also risk crashing into opening car doors, as there will only be a two-foot gap between the two lanes, said critics.
“I’m worried that this plan will take something that’s a mess and just make it a mess in a different way,” said Brandon Chamberlin, who rides along Jay Street to work each day and slammed the proposal as unambitious.
Cyclists will also still have to weave around stopping buses, which will cross the lanes when pulling in to pick up students and cubicle monkeys from local colleges and MetroTech.
But the new lanes were enough to win the support of car-critic group Transportation Alternatives, which has been demanding safer pedaling passageways on the strip for years.
“This is a big victory for the community,” said communications director Brian Zumhagen after the meeting.
As part of the same plan, the transportation department also intends to install a crosswalk at the off-ramp to the Manhattan Bridge, but hadn’t decided whether it will install signs or signals there yet, so the committee delayed voting on that element until it has more details.
The bike lane proposal will next go in front of the full community board.
If all goes to plan, construction on the new lanes will begin in the summer and should take about a month, said a rep for the transportation department.