From bike lane to bike pain on Bedford

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Williamsburg bicyclists — you win some and then you lose some.

The Department of Transportation removed a popular bike lane on Bedford Avenue this week, enraging cyclists and their main advocacy group — but the city said it made the adjustment because cyclists have other routes to the Williamsburg Bridge, including the lane installed earlier this year on nearby Kent Avenue.

“A small portion of this lane is being removed as part of ongoing bike network adjustments in the area,“ said Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow, citing the two-way protected lane on Kent Avenue and a barrier-protected connector lane on nearby Williamsburg Street.

The “small portion” in question is actually a congested 15-block stretch of Bedford Avenue from Flushing Avenue to Division Street, which was painted over on Tuesday.

In the wake of the removal, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives was livid.

“When it comes to bike lanes, we don’t believe in redundancy,” said the spokesman, Wiley Norvell. “The argument that [removing the lane] is justifiable because there is another bike lane nearby doesn’t take into account the heavy traffic on Bedford.”

On the avenue, riders responded with anger and frustration.

“That sucks,” said one cyclist, whose words were almost immediately echoed by fellow pedal-pusher Maya Pedersen.

“It’s annoying because this is the way I sort of have to go,” added Pedersen, who commutes daily via the Williamsburg Bridge.

Pedersen said she might start using the double-wide lane on Kent Avenue, but artist Mikolaj Szoska said he’ll keep riding down Bedford.

Transportation Alternatives is backing bikers like Szoska by urging two-wheelers to stake their claim to the thruway, regardless of the changes.

“Bikes are allowed on a road whether or not there is a bike lane,” said Norvell.

Updated 11:44 am, December 2, 2009
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