Greenpoint Avenue is latest battleground in the car-cyclist clash

Greenpoint Avenue is latest battleground in the car-cyclist clash
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Greenpoint’s community board has asked the city to halt its plan to remove much-needed parking spaces to accommodate an extended bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue.

Transportation officials told community members last month that the city will take away 50 parking spaces between Kingsland Avenue and Humboldt Street in order to make the existing bike lane safer, plus add a cycle path on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

The proposal would create a nine-foot buffer between cyclists in a six-foot-wide bike lane and cars, removing a lane of traffic typically used for parking on the north and south sides of the busy truck route.

In addition, the plan would add left-turn only lanes at Humboldt Street, Monitor Street and North Henry Street, and adding a left-turn lane at McGuinness Boulevard.

But Community Board 1 members voted last Wednesday to ask the city to reconsider.

“Taking away parking spaces is not the answer,” said CB1 Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen Nieves. “They’re saying this is a done deal, but before they even think of installing a bike lane on the bridge we need to deal with [traffic] on Greenpoint Avenue.”

The city began its $5.8-million bridge renovation in May 2010, after cycling advocates and community leaders complained that the street’s asphalt had become pockmarked and cracked and the area was unsafe to ride.

One cyclist skidded on the pavement and received 40 stitches after his bike got wedged into a crack in the bridge, mere days before the city began the work.

But the project has been delayed for several months as residents and Greenpoint business owners complained that the plan would inconvenience drivers and lead to traffic jams along the avenue.

Traffic on Greenpoint Avenue during morning and afternoon rush hours currently backs up several blocks — at some times all the way to McGuinness Boulevard.

A Department of Transportation spokesman did not return requests for comment. But a source said that the city remains adamant about building the bike lane.

Neighborhood cyclists hope the lane gets added as planned.

“It is a very dangerous and scary area to ride,” said CB1 member Julie Lawrence, who bikes to Queens along the road frequently. “It would be used more often if it was more hospitable to cyclists.”

The city believes the lane will help the traffic problem.
Photo by Tom Callan