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Slings and sharrows! Cyclists: Kill Jay St. parking, not bike lane

Slings and sharrows! Cyclists: Kill Jay St. parking, not bike lane
Before and after: The city’s plans for Jay Street.
NYC DOT

This plan leaves a lot to be retired.

The city must scrap a dangerous plan to erase a dedicated bike lane from a one-way stretch of Jay Street to make way for shared, two-way traffic, and come up with one that sacrifices car-parking spaces instead, say bicycle activists.

“They need to reapportion the street space in their plan to make room for a protected bike lane to ensure that cyclists are safe, even if that means losing some parking spaces,” said a spokesman for pro-bike group Transportation Alternatives.

Transportation officials announced the proposal for the block between Prospect and York streets last Tuesday, as part of a broader plan to improve safety on the Dumbo portion of the famously treacherous street.

The rabble-rousing riders group has previously called for the city to make the strip two-way, but balked at doing so with no dedicated lanes, and only paint markings — so-called sharrows — to let motorists know they are in mixed company.

Cyclists who frequent the route say they think the change will make things safer, because many pedal-pushers headed Downtown currently take their lives in their well calloused hands by riding the wrong way, but the sharrows won’t do squat.

“It’s definitely better than cyclists going against traffic,” said Wilson Goode, who works at Redbeard Bikes on Jay Street. “But without a bike lane, you’re not any safer than if there wasn’t one. You may as well not paint it.”

Transportation officials say the only way to keep the lane intact would indeed be to nix all the parking spaces on the Downtown-bound side of the street, according to a local leader who heard their pitch.

“There wasn’t enough width to the right of way to make a bike lane in both directions without removing a row of parking,” said Rob Perris, district manager of Community Board 2, adding that any changes would also have to accommodate a bus stop that must remain there due to its proximity to York Street station.

But if that is what it takes to keep bikers safe, that is what the city must do, says Transportation Alternatives — which has in the past called for completely segregated bike lanes along Jay Street.

“Safety should always trump parking,” said the spokesman.

Community Board 2’s transportation committee voted to approve the plan — which also includes adding crosswalks across Jay and Prospect streets, and repaving the roads — on Jan. 19, under the condition that the city look at ways to make the bike route safer.

The full board will vote on the proposal at its next board meeting on Feb. 10, though its decision is only advisory.

The Department of Transportation declined to comment on whether it would consider removing parking and keeping the bike lanes, but said it was aware of the concerns, and will discuss amending the proposal with the community board.

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

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