Re-lane-carnation! City brings Plaza Street West bike path back to life

Bike-lash! City bails on plan for another two-way lane after PPW protests
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A proposed cycling path that veered off-course amid the controversy surrounding the Prospect Park West bike lane is rolling again.

A two-way bike route on Plaza Street West is back on the drawing board months after the city scuttled plans for the path, renewing cyclists’ hopes for a safe lane that will one day ferry two-wheelers to and from the protected parkside bike viaduct.

The Department of Transportation will unveil plans on April 19 to bolster Plaza Street West’s current one-way bike route by adding a north-bound lane — two years after the agency first announced plans for a two-way cycling route on the curving street as part a renovation of Grand Army Plaza.

But when the Prospect Park West bike lane became the subject of a lawsuit and loud opposition, particularly from a well-connected group of neighbors, the city quietly tabled the Plaza Street West lane, citing “the scope” of the Grand Army Plaza rehab.

The bike lane lawsuit crashed eight months ago, and bike boosters are ecstatic now that the two-way lane is back on the table, saying it will safely link the Prospect Park West route with other lanes in Prospect Heights and Park Slope — making the streets safer for everyone.

“There’s a sense that [the city] held back on the project because of the lawsuit — but I’m glad they’re doing it now,” said cycling advocate Eric McClure. “There are safety concerns without it.”

Indeed, cyclists heading north from the Prospect Park West lane often end up riding illegally riding against traffic on Plaza Street West. It’s especially problematic for bikers riding toward the Fifth Avenue lane in Park Slope or the Smith Street lane in Cobble Hill.

Bike advocates say the city will unveil proposals for a two-way lane that is not separated from traffic and a two-way lane that is shielded from cars at the Community Board 6 meeting.

The plan is popular among cyclists, but its predecessor faced some opposition from neighbors and motorists.

Residents of Plaza Street West wrote letters to city officials protesting the connector lane last year, saying it would taint the tree-lined street and make it difficult for drivers to maneuver around double-parked cars.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation, Seth Solomonow, declined to discuss details of the new proposal with The Brooklyn Paper, saying only, “Nice try.”

Neighbors are looking forward to finding out more, too.

“I’d like a safe two-way lane,” said Plaza Street West resident Robert Minsky. “It’s just so necessary.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Bike boosters say a multi-directional bike lane on Plaza Street West will make it easier for cyclists to safely ride to and from the Prospect Park West bike lane.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini