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Pedal pushback: Sunset Parkers rail against city’s bike lane plans

The city wants to paint bike lanes along 43rd and 44th streets between Third and Seventh avenues, and 41st Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues, but locals worry about its effect on parking.
Department of Transportation

It’s going to be another bumpy bike ride.

The city’s plan to add bike lanes and remove parking spots on several Sunset Park streets between Seventh Avenue and the waterfront could increase double parking and make the roads impassable for emergency vehicles and the large trucks that frequently rumble through the nabe, residents claimed at a Community Board 7 meeting Monday night.

“I think they’re taking space away from people,” said Sunset Parker Lillian Maida. “Suppose an old person needs help and a fire truck comes down. They’re not going to get through, because there’s no way, it’s too narrow a street.”

Residents also worried that plans for bike lanes along 43rd, 44th, 57th, and 59th streets would force police to start ticketing double-parked cars that block the pedalers’ path on days when alternate-side-of-the-street parking is in effect — illegal activity that cops usually turn a blind eye to as a courtesy to car owners on street cleaning days.

“I try to find a legal spot, but I do think people are worried about getting ticketed,” Maida said. “There are a number of people who have cars on the block.”

Department of Transportation reps pitched the agency’s proposal — in partnership with Uprose, a local community organization — as a way to better connect the neighborhood to the city’s new ferry service and other amenities.

The city’s plan includes:

• Painting sharrows — chevrons pointing the way for bicyclists — on the four industrial streets between Second and Third avenues.

• Adding bike lanes on the residential portions of 43rd, 44th, 57th, and 59th streets between Third and Seventh avenues.

• Adding a bike lane along 41st Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues.

• Installing a two-way bike lane on 43rd Street between First and Second Avenues as a gateway to Bush Terminal Park.

• Installing pedestrian curb cuts and smoothing the Belgian blocks at Third Avenue and 43rd Street.

The transportation department’s reps admitted the 43rd Street intersection plan would rob the nabe of five parking spaces — four on Second Avenue, and one on First Avenue — but promised the upgrades would improve safety, visibility, and truck traffic flow.

The agency also proposed adding a two-way bike lane on 58th Street between First and Second avenues to create a gateway to Brooklyn Army Terminal and the ferry. That move would take away five parking spaces — three at 58th Street and Second Avenue, and two at 58th Street and First Avenue. A bike crossing and a signal crossing at 57th Street are also being considered.

Another 43rd Street resident said she was frustrated that locals were left out of the planning process, arguing that many do not think the bike lanes are necessary.

“I wanted to know where they got the data to say there’s so many bikers here that would use bike lanes,” said Loretta Holmes. “The streets that are most affected by this, we were not consulted. We were not included.”

But the transportation agency’s rep and Uprose organizers insisted that they held meetings, led walking tours, and hosted community workshops about the proposal over the past two years. In the past, Sunset Parkers have clashed over bike lane proposals on Fourth and Seventh avenues, with opponents calling them harbingers of gentrification and supporters calling them community assets. The nabe’s only current bike lane spans Seventh Avenue between 41st and 65th streets, with an extra bit extending on 62nd Street down to Fifth Avenue.

The community board will vote on the proposals on Oct. 18.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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