Path of least resistance! City yields on hated shared bike lane plan, offers dedicated track instead

Path of least resistance! City yields on hated shared bike lane plan, offers dedicated track instead
Photo by Louise Wateridge

They changed lanes!

The city has agreed to install a dedicated two-way bike lane on a stretch of Jay Street in Dumbo after cyclists slammed an earlier proposal that would see them sharing the road with vehicles, and residents were thrilled to learn officials had heard their gripes and switched gears.

“This is a far superior proposal and I’m pleased to see it,” said Hilda Cohen at a Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The panel voted unanimously to approve the new look for the block between York and Prospect streets, which would wedge a green bike track in between the curb and a lane of parked cars. To accommodate the new passageway, the asphalt agency will scrap a lane of parking on the other side of the street, and buses will share a lane with traffic.

It is a big change from the plan the department presented to the panel in January, which proposed scrapping the stretch’s current one-way bike lane to make way for a pair of two-way traffic lanes that brave cyclists would share with motorists.

The committee also approved that scheme, but it wasn’t popular with local helmet heads. Bikers liked the idea of a two-way street — as many already risk their necks by riding against traffic there to go Downtown or onto the Manhattan Bridge — but said putting two- and four-wheelers together was a dangerous combination.

The revised plan will make the treacherous stretch safer and give riders peace of mind, says a cyclist who knows the pathway well.

“A lot of people go the wrong way on that street to get onto the bridge, and the lane would make that block a lot less crazy,” said Sera Stavroula, who works at Dumbo bike shop Recycle-A-Bicycle and rides to work from Bedford-Stuyvesant every day.

Other roadies praised the city’s willingness to listen and compromise.

“It proves that DOT and this mayor are very responsive to safety concerns and not afraid to revise plans accordingly,” said Paul Steely-White of pro-bike group Transportation Alternatives, which knocked the previous pitch.

The new set-up — with parked cars separating bikes from automobiles — is similar to one the city also plans to implement on the notoriously wild Downtown stretch of Jay Street, though that will have single-direction bike lanes on either side of the street.

The full community board will vote on the new proposal at its next meeting on April 13.

If the plan goes ahead, the city intends to make the changes by late spring or early summer.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill