Public housing residents: Bike lane fence is offensive

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Residents of two Fort Greene housing projects want the city to come up with a way to protect cyclists from brick-throwing teens that’s smarter and less stigmatizing than a cage-like fence.

The Department of Transportation decided to replace an existing fence on a pedestrian bridge that links the Walt Whitman and Ingersoll houses with a taller, curved wall of metal mesh after a group of kids threw rocks, bottles and golf balls at more than six bikers riding below on the Navy Street bike lane.

But residents of the city-owned developments between Tillary Street and Myrtle Avenue see the planned fence as a superficial quick-fix with the aesthetics of a prison wall.

“We don’t want anybody getting hurt either — but this feels like a punishment, like we’re in jail,” said Stacy Williams, who lives there. “It’s offensive.”

The city claims the new fence, which features an 18-inch-tall inward-curved barrier much like the fence on the Manhattan Bridge bike lane — will make it harder for anyone to hurl anything onto the roadway below. But some residents say the job could be better accomplished with a security guard posted on the bridge and a little community outreach, saying they’re just as disturbed by the attacks as cyclists.

“Safety comes first,” said Kyle Okai, who also lives in the complex. “It seems like there’s a better way, though.”

The push for increased safety comes after a spree of attacks against cyclists on the popular bike route, which links Fort Greene to the Manhattan Bridge.

Park Slope computer programmer Stephen Arthur was hit in the head with a brick — leaving him with a cracked helmet, a gash on his cheek and a chipped tooth in August. Others suffered minor injuries.

Some bicyclists are happy that the city is aware of the problem but, much like residents of the public housing complex, consider city’s solution “incomplete.”

“They need to give this more thought,” said Arthur, who has called on the city to add fencing along the stairs leading up to the footbridge and remove fencing separating the street from the public housing complexes — measures he hopes would make it harder to throw rocks and more difficult for those who do to escape.

The city defends its current fence plan, noting that the design is similar to the fences used on other bridges near bike lanes.

“Making the bridge safer for everyone is a goal that Department of Transportation shares with the local community,” said a spokeswoman for the agency. “[We] also will continue to discuss ideas for ways to further enhance safety on and around the bridge.”

The city expects to install the new fence this month. The bridge wouldn’t be the first pedestrian walkway covered with lots of chain-link — two foot paths over the Prospect Expressway, connecting South Park Slope and Windsor Terrace with Greenwood Heights, are fully enclosed in fencing.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 12:21 pm on Jan. 18 to include new comments from the Department of Transportation.

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

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Reader Feedback

trans alt from my bike says:
Close the street to cars. These kids would not be so angry if they were not breathing in exhaust fumes all the time.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:03 am
common from sense says:
Try raising your children to have some respect for other people.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:05 am
Jacob from Clinton Hill says:
The fencing IS offensive. Perhaps you could just put in a normal, signalized crosswalk that only changes the signal when someone pushes a button. You shouldn't even need a bridge to cross a 2-lane road.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:06 am
manhatposeur from portlyn lakes park says:
perhaps raise the height even further. Well its the people of the projects not teaching these kids the golden rule is their problem.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:17 am
Dan from F Greene says:

do you understand what's going on here? The bridge is actually a nice thing to have.. that's NOT the issue. It's the fact that kids have been throwing things off of it at cars and bicycle riders. The fence is a direct response to misbehaving children that might or might not live in the housing that the bridge serves.

The fence is just a band aid on the real problem which is bad parenting.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:19 am
Dan from F Greene says:

do you understand what's going on here? The bridge is actually a nice thing to have.. that's NOT the issue. It's the fact that kids have been throwing things off of it at cars and bicycle riders. The fence is a direct response to misbehaving children that might or might not live in the housing that the bridge serves.

The fence is just a band aid on the real problem which is bad parenting.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:19 am
Roman from Park Slope says:
Take away the bridge and let the people cross the street. Some people are animals.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:21 am
Art from Bklyn says:
Tear down the bridge, put in a crosswalk, speedbumps, a traffic light and maybe even some sidewalks so people don't feel fenced in.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:23 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
The suggestions for alternatives to the fencing are an excellent beginning. I like trans alt's suggestion best.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:33 am
D from Queens says:
Agree with Roman. Tear down the bridge, make it a normal intersection with a crosswalk like everywhere else, and then there's no bridge to throw things from.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:39 am
Kevin Walsh from Little Neck says:
I'd cover the walkway with a cyclone-type fence. much like the overpasses on the Prospect Expressway at 10th Avenue are completely enclosed so no one chucks concrete at the cars there.

I haven't heard anyone in Windsor Terrace squawking about being offended because the walkways are completely enclosed.
Jan. 17, 2012, 9:42 am
S from PPW says:
What does Tal Barzilai think? Haven't heard from him in a while. Is he still living in Pleasantville?
Jan. 17, 2012, 10:15 am
S from Park Slope says:
If they don't like the fence then they should teach their kids not to throw bricks at the drivers and bikers below. But they should be grateful the city has only erected a fence; in other places where kids do this they get arrested and sent to juvenile detention. Would they prefer their kids have that stigma to face?

Of course, the best solution would be for those parents to supervise their kids, then nobody would be stigmatized at all. But that's pure fantasy.
Jan. 17, 2012, 10:48 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Natalie, both sides of Navy Street are the Ingersoll Projects. Walt Whitman is further down the street.

I've witnessed rock throwing at bicyclists...each time there are adults around doing nothing. In my opinion, the best solution is taking down the bridge.
Jan. 17, 2012, 10:52 am
trans alt from my bike says:
Not only should the bridge be torn down, and the street made auto free, cars should also be banned from a 2 block radius from any housing project in NYC.

Heroin and Crack sales would drop by 50% immediately.
Jan. 17, 2012, 10:59 am
T from Bklyn says:
The guy who does that trans alt parody commenter is really great. if he knew anything about urban planning he'd realize that he actually makes the points he's trying to make fun of!
Jan. 17, 2012, 11:12 am
Alt Trans from brooklyn says:
The fence has to be there to stop your kids from killing somebody, if you don't like it then get a job and move out.

Seriously you're gonna complain about the free apartment you get to live in? These people are soooo spoiled!

Also why do all the housing projects have parking lots? If you can't afford to rent an apartment how do you have money for insurance and car payments? Take the train like everybody else, or get a BIKE LOL!
Jan. 17, 2012, 11:35 am
lalaland from kensington says:
The pedestrian footbridges over Ocean Parkway/Ft. Hamilton Parkway and the Prospect Expressway have the same kinds of fencing as they will be installing in Ft. Greene.

I'm guessing the people who got hurt by rocks had their feelings hurt more than people who suffer from a prison mentality of their own creation (the NYCHA does permit one to leave public housing after all).
Jan. 17, 2012, 11:50 am
JudahSpechal from BedStuy says:
No one gets free rent in a Projects, subsidize or, non- market rate is more like it. There r peoople living on Park Ave in subsidize apartments & pay less $1000/month. Get over yourselves. Really changing the freakin fence and move on.
Don't worry u opiners, there be other things to opine about
Jan. 17, 2012, 11:55 am
JudahSpechal from BedStuy says:
It still amazes me how people get , with glee I might add, to point fingers at those people who ain't them. Then u find out that these saintly, good people are molesting kids, beating their wives, serial killers , thieves, etc, etc..
Jan. 17, 2012, Noon
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Trans Alt will tell those kids they will never do any better than riding the bus, car ownership is not for them and they shoulod be greatful to ride in the front of the bus comrade.
Jan. 17, 2012, 12:02 pm
trans alt from my bike says:
If those kids want to live in NYC when they grow up, then no, cars are not for them. The subway, bus, bike or walking is good enough for them, and everyone one else, comrade.
Jan. 17, 2012, 12:20 pm
Trans Alt from brooklyn says:
I'd tell them that riding a bike is a very efficient means of transportation.

The good thing is most bikes only have one seat, no front or back of the bus decision.
Jan. 17, 2012, 12:26 pm
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
There is a grade change at the bridge, so a crosswalk would force residents to walk up and down stairs rather than straight across. That's an over-reaction.

I don't see the proposed fence as stigmatizing. Similar fences are already in place for crossings all over the city.

As for posting a guard, we are in an ongoing fiscal crisis that has hit the New York City Housing Authority worst of all.

"The pedestrian footbridges over Ocean Parkway/Ft. Hamilton Parkway and the Prospect Expressway have the same kinds of fencing as they will be installing in Ft. Greene."

Jan. 17, 2012, 12:30 pm
Confucious from Brooklyn says:
Confucious say:
If you act like animal, don't be outraged when cage is built.
Jan. 17, 2012, 12:43 pm
D from Brooklyn says:
Can the Brooklyn Paper moderate these comments and do something about the blatant racism that infects so many of these posts?
Jan. 17, 2012, 12:46 pm
Tuesday says:
I agree with D....they are chiming in like a pack of savage wild animals that go for the kill.
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:02 pm
Jym from PLG says:
=v= The problem of attacks on bicyclists has gone unaddressed for at least a decade. Those offended by this solution should come up with an alternative solution. Doing nothing is NOT an option.
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:08 pm
Miguel Carraway from Clinton Hill says:
This story catch en fuego!
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:12 pm
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
PS. While u righteous saints r at it know that Minorities & poor r makes up the largest %of bike riders in NYC. u may get a impression because of the faces u see in the media as advocates for bikers & bike lanes.
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:24 pm
Josef from linton Hill says:
Kevin Walsh hits the nail on the head. any complaints are unfounded because this type of fencing is in use elsewhere in the City as well, and any stigma the residents think they feel is probably misunderstood guilt over how their community's kids have been throwing bricks at people for no effing reason.
Jan. 17, 2012, 1:27 pm
John from Park slope says:
Forget tearing down the bridge-tear down the projects instead.

Problem solved.
Jan. 17, 2012, 2:27 pm
SC from Sunset Park says:
If they want a 24-hour security guard or a nicer fence they should pay for it out of their maintenance budget of their co-op association-- OH WAIT it's public housing.

Oh well, learn to live with it.
Jan. 17, 2012, 2:41 pm
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
It just occured to me. No one objected to the idea of building these fences over the Prospect Expressway to prevent teens from throwing rocks at cars.

But somehow its an issue to use the same fence to prevent teens from throwing rocks at people on bicycles.

There were some objections to using the same fences to prevent people from jumping off the Manhattan Bridge, but they were ignored.
Jan. 17, 2012, 2:45 pm
Iris from Park Slope says:
Heck, why not cover the entire thing and then add growing vines? That's what they did over the Prospect Expressway near 10th Ave.
Jan. 17, 2012, 3:01 pm
UmadBro from wat says:
I'm with SC, its public housing. Put the fence up and lets move on.
Jan. 17, 2012, 3:41 pm
Norman from Park Slope says:
Many of the comments are racist and abusive. The Brooklyn Paper has an obligation to turn off this sewer.
Jan. 17, 2012, 3:41 pm
Stormin' Norman from Brooklyn says:
Norman: speaking the truth by definition can not be racist. Stop whining like a PC moonbat.
Jan. 17, 2012, 3:49 pm
ty from pps says:
I actually don't see much in the way of racist comments above... ugly comments, sure. But racist? Point to a racist comment or three. I wonder of your perception of racism is all about you and less about the comment. Hmm?
Jan. 17, 2012, 4:32 pm
Marty from Prospect Heights says:
Get rid of the road and make it a park with trees and play spaces. Keep the bike path, though.
Jan. 17, 2012, 5:17 pm
Hector from yeahder says:
Fence it in! They don't like the fence too bad. Their kids are trash and trash blows around if it's not contained. Too bad if they don't like the fence. It's public land, paid for with public funds, to protect the public from trash and everyone get's to look at it equally. So, either teach the kiddies to play nice, or cage em up.
Jan. 17, 2012, 5:23 pm
gothamist from Brooklyn says:
"Housing Project Residents Feel "Jailed" By New Navy Street Footbridge Fence"
Jan. 17, 2012, 5:45 pm
ty from pps says:
OK -- Well, Erika went ahead a proved me wrong. Well done.
Jan. 17, 2012, 6:20 pm
josh from ft green says:
keep in mind these projects were here before the neighborhood and theyll be here long after. there is already a police precinct within a couple bocks of these projects. so what has changed? well suddenly there are a bunch of homosexuals on bicycles biking past the projects. and they get attacked.

crazy idea....just...crazy but..maybe bike a block over? lol its like, hey man, youre not from the city and you like to bike. thats cool. also, youre gay and youre wearing biking gear. real cool. maybe uh...maybe dont bike by the projects? nah, nah, you're right. its the city's fault. lets just spend a couple hundred thousand dollars installing a fence instead of using uh..common ——ing sense. hey, when that fence is up and they start breaking bottles along that stretch of road, whats the plan? 24/7 police presence? cool.

to all the racists, if there were a trailer park filled with appalachian types across the street from fort green, i would advise my black brothers not to ride by it as well. just as i advise them now, and they know, not to hang out around gerrison beach. or the nice parts of rockaway.
Jan. 17, 2012, 6:31 pm
S from PPW says:
The Brooklyn Paper has no moderation policy, apparently. Congrats for allowing hate to be spewed on your website.
Jan. 17, 2012, 6:35 pm
Sick and Tired from Clinton Hill says:
@ S from Park Slope read the article these housing developments keep the folks upstate in their six figure jobs.

These folks are educated to be the nations workforce ONLY and when those jobs vanish overseas they are the FIRST to get fired. So what is your solution to that?

@ Erika Reitman your art and coffeshops do not employ local people that are black and brown. With a name like Reitman I would have thought that putting people in barbed wire confinement and deporting people would be offensive to you!!! I guess if it is some other race you are fine with it.
Jan. 17, 2012, 6:38 pm
Kakahari Dessert from Brooklyn says:
...."keep in mind these projects were here before the neighborhood..."

This is not true. A good deal of the structures in Ft Greene predate the projects by a century or more.

Josh, don't tell me there is not a problem in Whitman and Ingersoll housing. There are good people there, but an abnormal percentage of out of control, anti-social youth. Yeah, yeah, yeah anger from discrimination, racist cops and years of societal abuse, agreed. But there's a way out...a great, free library system in the city (even a branch in those projects). Try pulling yourself up from the boot straps and educating yourself in a third world country. Damn, I'd rather be in Ingersoll than Kinshasa, Republic of Congo or the slums of Rio. Time to take self responsibility!!!
Jan. 17, 2012, 7:36 pm
jinx from bk says:
c'mon it's a new homespun sport in the making, brooklyn bike brick dodgin' - keep it coming y'all!
Jan. 17, 2012, 8:43 pm
Opus the Poet from Garland TX says:
"well suddenly there are a bunch of homosexuals on bicycles biking past the projects. and they get attacked." You know the prevalence of homosexuality among cyclists is about the same as the general population.

Also, I have been reading about this for years, if they don't like the fences then the residents should do something about the people throwing things down on the roads and injuring people. I guess I should remind people that a brick is considered a deadly weapon when used as a projectile, and those "kids" could be charged with assault with a deadly, which is a felony that can carry significant amounts of prison time.
Jan. 17, 2012, 8:45 pm
o3 from Wburg says:
This is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.
Jan. 18, 2012, 7:17 am
manhatposeur from portlyn lakes park says:
Hey josh from ft greene:
Your the biggot everyone has the right to go about in peace. Its the concept of these ghetto kids dont understand, the golden rule.
I am not white and not gay and I have every right to ride my bike in peace through the area.
Get a clue ghetto people. OR real action to smash the projects will come.
Jan. 18, 2012, 8:57 am
jamoke from Bensonhurst says:
So, lemme get this straight. The fine 'youts' and 'teens' living in these places already have developed the hate and criminality that makes it 'OK' to heave bottles, golfballs, bricks, who the hell knows what else, at cyclists. They do this because most have no parents, or ones who could give a damn about inculcating any sense of morality, 'right and wrong' in them. They choose deadly assault as their means of 'expressing themselves', the city has deemed fit to allow their victims to be protected by erecting a barrier, and the inhabitants OBJECT to this? Do they actually believe that this will further DAMAGE the 'self-esteem' of the perpetrators of these acts of violence?
If the idiots that filed this complaint had their damn way, the 'inmates would soon be running the asylum.'
Teach consequences, and the —— will stop.
Jan. 18, 2012, 9:13 am
Dave from Ft. Greene says:
To generalize about the community at Ingersoll & Walt Whitman based on the actions of a few is wrong. To provide a tad perspective, I grew up in a middle- and working-class suburb in NJ. Every single pedestrian walkway over a roadway was lined with 6-8 ft high chain-link fence, sloping inward at the top. I agree with those who say the projects are too prison-like overall, and that should be remedied. But for the safety of cyclists and vehicles, I think the fence is a good idea.

Any conclusions people are drawing about the residents of these housing projects--well, unless you live there, or know people who do, save yourself and the rest of us some air and just shut it. It doesn't help anyone.
Jan. 18, 2012, 11:31 am
Wednesday says:
These bloggers are blood thirsty self-righteous savages. Where did they spawn from?
One grown azz man reacting to children throwing bricks stirs up all this pent up hate? WTF!
The children have brought out the best.

I guess if you can't beat em, you join em:

Children: Stop throwing bricks. Give the unemployed, drugged and drunk bicyclist the freedom to ride their bikes into moving vehicles. More fools = more fun.

@ BrooklynPaper
You need to check yourselves.
Its gets waaaay out of control on line.
Jan. 18, 2012, 12:23 pm
Skellatosis from FG says:
Wednesday. Why don't you make a coherent statement. Problem is punk teens with no parents around to teach right from wrong so they just learn wrong on the streets. This all starts at home. I can't tell you how many kids are wandering the streets up to nothing after school. Do some homework and make something of yourself instead of trying to prove who has a bigger ego to your homies. You want to toss bricks your consequence is a fence. That's how life works.

I haven't seen one racism comment. Some stupid ones written out of anger but nothing on race. Get over it.
Jan. 18, 2012, 8:21 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I will not argue against those who are throwing things off of that footbridge, and it would really hurt if anyone got hit by them. Then again, maybe it is a better idea to stay away from them if they will be tempted to throw things there. I do agree that action should be taken to stop these things from happening. Just hearing them throwing things at others from that bridge reminds me a lot of intifada where members of Hamas actually threw rocks at IDF soldiers that can actually injure them. It's sad how a lot can be inconnvienced just because of a few.
Jan. 18, 2012, 9:51 pm
Paris apartment from paris says:
Paris Apartment
Jan. 19, 2012, 6:44 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Nice to see that the internet showed up to this one.
Jan. 19, 2012, 8:11 am
Juan from Gowanus says:
I've had kids throw rocks at me when I was just walking on the periphery of those projects. Nowhere else in the city has that happened to me in 30 years. The obvious solution is to tear down all of that public housing.
Jan. 19, 2012, 12:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Let's not blame all of public housing just because of a few individuals. I am sure that not everyone is like that. Nobody would like it if luxury condos were torn down just because of a few individuals there. Behaviour starts at home with their immediate families. If there is something wrong, then it was the way they were raised, but please don't put up an entire community just for that.
Jan. 19, 2012, 4:09 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
However, all bicyclists should be blamed just because of a few individuals.
Jan. 20, 2012, 9:51 am
Yup from Isaidit says:
They're gonna be in jail one day anyway, might as well get used to the fence.
Jan. 20, 2012, 2:53 pm
joe from sunset park says:
Tear down the projects.
Jan. 20, 2012, 4:28 pm
Cletus from Hicksville alabama says:
those are not teenagers throwing bricks. They are thirty year old men who still live with their mamas and dress like fourteen year olds. Welcome to the projects. The place where nobody ages past the age of fourteen.
Jan. 20, 2012, 6:46 pm
Faith from coney island says:
I agree...stop blaming everything on teenagers...Most of the spitting, urinating, throwing things out the windows and just plain standing around 24/7, are twenty years old and above men, who have no dreams or goals on what to do with their life. Then the youth who look up to them do the very same thing that they see. Leave the gate up before someone gets killed.
Jan. 25, 2012, 11:20 am

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