The city will finally sanction a popular but illicit route for cyclists trying to get across Court Street from Amity to Dean streets under a proposed overhaul of the Cobble Hill intersection, and easy riders are stoked — they say they’ve been blowing that joint for years anyway, and it’s time The Man let them bring their habit out in the open so they can do it safely.
“People are already doing it,” said Cobble Hill bike activist Bahij Chancey at a Community Board 6 meeting on Dec. 15, where Department of Transportation bigwigs unveiled the plan. “I don’t think it will increase the number of people doing it, I just think it means the people who are doing it will be safe.”
The two streets both abut Court Street on opposite sides but are offset by about 45 feet. Traffic on the hairy thoroughfare is one-way and Red Hook-bound, so travelers coming to the end of Amity Street can’t make a left-hand, Carroll Gardens-bound turn over Dean street without getting on the wrong side of the Fuzz — although many riders do it anyhow.
Now officials want to okay the underground movement, painting markings across Court Street and installing signs that read “no left turn except bicycles” at Amity Street.
But one local totally harshed the bikers’ mellow, saying it was half-baked to encourage more free-wheeling commuters to do something that is supposed to be against the law.
“You’re allowing cyclists to do something that is technically illegal and you can ticket a motorist for it,” said board member Jerry Armer.
A transportation honcho said the department is making a rare exception for safety’s sake.
“It’s not something we like to do all of the time,” said Ted Wright, the department’s director of, err, greenways. “What we’re doing is trying to provide a safer way for some of these people who making that crossing.”
The signs are just one part of the plan — agency officials also want to stick a two-block bike lane on Amity Street from Henry to Court streets to fill gaps in the pedaling-path network, and install another crosswalk over Court Street, outside the Starbucks at Dean Street.
The changes won’t bogart any vehicle lanes, though they could nix one parking space, the reps said. Workers will just narrow the current one-way travel lane on Amity Street a little and paint the cycling lane markings next to it, maintaining parking lanes on either side.
Five pedestrians, five cyclists, and six vehicle occupants were injured in crashes along on the two block stretch of Amity Street between 2010 and 2014, according to bummer city data.
The committee members decided to hold off voting on the proposal until they rap with more Cobble Hill residents at next month’s meeting.
— with Colin Mixson