Nice rack! City to cut two parking spaces on Smith Street for bike parking lot

Nice rack! City to cut two parking spaces on Smith Street for bike parking lot
Photo by Haru Coryne

Could bikes save lives?

A corral of bike racks will soon block cars from parking on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens — a revolutionary move that neighbors say will fix the treacherous intersection with Sackett Street.

City officials said that installing eight U-shaped bike racks will fix the “bad visibility” at the intersection for cars turning onto northbound Smith Street from westbound Sackett Street.

The first-of-its-kind Brooklyn project will replace a two-space no-standing zone — which is marked with a red sign that drivers perpetually ignore — as an alternative way of making folks follow the rules.

“It’s creative,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which backed the decision earlier this month. “There have been numerous close calls the intersection” because drivers often have trouble seeing past the parked cars on Smith Street.

As a result, drivers inch their way into the crosswalk and the bike lane.

No collisions have been recorded in the past year, according to city data, and some neighbors are not convinced it’s the best use of city money or much-coveted street space.

“What happens in the winter?” said Fowad Assad, whose family owns the Zaytoon’s restaurant on the corner of Smith and Sackett streets. “Those racks are going to sit there empty; If you really want to make it safer, put in a stoplight.”

But others think it’s a two-birds-one-stone solution that will encourage more cycling and make the street less nerve-racking.

“It’s a tough intersection to cross,” agreed mom Jenny Krumpus, who was pushing a stroller at the corner. “I’m all for it, if it makes this neighborhood more bike and pedestrian-friendly.”

The change comes at a time when drivers across the borough — particularly Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods — are adjusting to sharing the road (and now maybe some parking) with cyclists.

The taxpayer-financed racks are expected to be installed by the end of the summer, although the city did not respond by press time to questions about how much it would cost. Similar projects — in which bike parking is installed on the street, as opposed to the sidewalk, to improve safety — have been successful in bike-positive cities such as Portland, Oregon.

“We suspect that if it works here, it could work a lot of places,” Hammerman said.

This is what on-street bike corrals look like in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Jonathan Maus / Bike Portland