Sections

Get rolling! Sunset Parkers demand city take bike lane request seriously

No easy ride: Raj Kottamasu perfers Sunset Park’s bike lane-less Fourth Avenue over Fifth or Third avenues, which he said are busier and harder to navigate by bike.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Call it a re-cycled idea.

Sunset Parkers are renewing demands to put a protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue. Activists have pressed the city for years for such a path along Fourth Avenue without any movement, and now they’re furious that the Department of Transportation created a bike lane in Marine Park without that community even asking for one, an area leader said.

“We’ve wanted and needed this [bike path], and for another neighborhood to get one without even requesting it is a huge insult to Sunset Park,” said Rob Aguilar, a member of the preservationist group Sunset Park Restoration. “We’re willing to work with the Department of Transportation but they’re not open to what the community wants.”

For more than two years, the group has fought for a bike lane with a buffer separating cyclists from traffic on Fourth Avenue. Locals say the arterial roadway is the most convenient route Downtown, but it needs to be safer. An average of 40 cyclists an hour race along the avenue, according to a 2015 study conducted by Sunset Park Restoration. And 18 cyclists were injured in crashes along the avenue between 17th and 65th streets in the last five years, city data shows.

The city has been more attentive to other neighborho­ods’ cycling-infrastructure needs, according to some Sunset Parkers. Recently, the transportation department even agreed to revise a controversial bike lane it had just laid down on E. 38th in Marine Park, and Sunset Parkers are frustrated with how responsive the city was to Marine Park while ignoring their own pleas, another activist said.

“This just shows that the Department of Transportation is out of touch with the community,” said Tony Giordano, executive director of Sunset Park Restoration. “I’m still hopeful, but it seems like it’s turned into a beating-a-dead-horse kind of thing.”

The Department of Transportation told advocates that Fourth Avenue isn’t wide enough to accommodate a “protected” bike lane, locals said. And yet the agency is moving on a controversial plan to widen the avenue’s medians by four feet — roughly the width of a bike lane — on either side.

Cyclists remain geared up to push for the long-awaited lane, because Fourth Avenue is a safer option compared to nearby Third and Fifth avenues, which are either too narrow or full of speeding cars, one rider said.

“Fourth Avenue makes the most sense to me — Fifth Avenue is narrow, and you’re going uphill at a certain point, and Third Avenue has the expressway, which is hectic,” said Raj Kottamasu, who commutes along the boulevard from Clinton Hill up to five times a week and injured his shoulder last winter after a truck stopped short and he swerved on a patch on ice. “I would like a bike lane here. It’s definitely a lot safer than nothing.”

The Department of Transportation is open to discussing future community requests for bike lanes in Sunset Park, an agency spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:


Reader feedback

Lulu Rodríguèñz from Sunset Park says:
To say that we are miffed is an understatement (and slitghtly racist?!). We are about to throw a hissy fit out of anger! We are stomping our feet and waving our hands in the air - you know we mean business! Don't ignore us, you politicians. Don't you dare. I'm about to get really angry! I'm going to scream!
Aug. 23, 2016, 4:03 am
Dave from Boerum Hill says:
Get rid of parking on the sides of 4th Avenue, extend the sidewalks, make single direction protected bike lanes.

For the Boerum Hill/Park Slope section there are tons of parking garages on 4th.

For Sunset Park and Gowanus there are off street lots on 3rd, etc.

For Bay Ridge, who cares. They'll cry anyway.
Aug. 23, 2016, 8:47 am
Chris from Sunset Park says:
A huge number of my neighbors ride their bikes to work in downtown Brooklyn. Give them a protected lane so they can ride safe. Sick and tired of seeing cars with one person in them backing up my neighborhood. Bikes take up less space and the ride to downtown is flat and takes ten minutes. My 70 year old friend does it.
Aug. 23, 2016, 9:36 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Ridge Boulevard/Second Avenue has plenty of room for you bike riders, little traffic and cleaner air. That will take you from Marine Avenue down to 29th street.
Aug. 23, 2016, 9:50 am
CR from Sunset Park says:
5Th Avenue in Sunset Park is the double parking mecca of Brooklyn. It takes the 63 bus forever to go just a few blocks. 4th avenue is pretty bad too. The DOT should do something about all the double parking. It halts the flow of traffic and makes biking unnecessarily dangerous.
Aug. 23, 2016, 10:01 am
Mike from Slope says:
This would be fantastic.

To the commenter above who suggests Second Ave --- the condition of that street renders it utterly unridable, and, as you mention, doesn't help at all past 29th. Fourth is ideal.
Aug. 23, 2016, 10:01 am
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
Bay Ridge / Sunset Park residents have no good options at all for biking to downtown Brooklyn / Manhattan, with nothing on the horizon.

A protected bike lane could be a win for everyone, whether it be on Fourth, Third or Second Avenue.
Aug. 23, 2016, 10:25 am
Josh from Bay Ridge says:
No bike lane on 4th avenue. The city has too many bike lanes.
Aug. 23, 2016, 3:34 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Although 5th Ave. in Sunset Park is annoying because of the double parked cars and all the U-Turns, the traffic is slower so I find it safer than 4th Ave. and 3rd Ave. where folks drive too fast.
Aug. 23, 2016, 4:40 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I find this to be a bad idea. For the majority of the route, 4th Avenue is a major thoroughfare, which means that even commercial vehicles are using this street. There is already enough vehicular traffic on this road already, but the bike zealots just don't seem to care just as long as they get something they want only. There have already been studies that placing any type of bike lanes on such roads is a bad idea especially for the truckers. Where could they go if they need to make deliveries especially with a protected bike lane in the way? I guess the bike zealots didn't think about that, though they would have cared anyway. Another thing I won't be surprised if they are calling for this to make the traffic slower and then use the very traffic they created to promote congestion pricing, which sounds pretty possible out of this.
Aug. 23, 2016, 4:45 pm
ty from pps says:
they could make a bike lane on the median and take the traffic lights out since nobody pays attention to red lights.
Aug. 23, 2016, 4:46 pm
Hootie from Park Slope says:
Maybe a narrower lane can be installed for unicycles only?
Or double wide bicycles in the car lane?
Aug. 23, 2016, 5:22 pm
ItsNotEasyBeingGreen from Sunset Park says:
@Tal Barzilai

Don't talk about things you know nothing about. Half a century of experimentation of Dutch roads has made their country the safest in the world for cycling, and guess what? They put separated infrastructure along the highest traffic roads.

This also wouldn't "create traffic" as it wouldn't require removing a travel lane. It could easily fit in the space available if the median were kept at 12' wide and the parking lane narrowed to a normal width. Do you know what creates traffic on 4th Avenue today? Double parking.
Aug. 23, 2016, 6:34 pm
A from Boerum Hill says:
I agree, 4th Ave needs bike lanes on both sides.
Aug. 23, 2016, 10:55 pm
Cherise from Ft Greene says:
All Holland is known for these days is bikes, legal pot and prodtitution. Bully for the Dutch! That all works for them. We're not them.
Aug. 24, 2016, 12:58 am
Sammy from Brooklyn Born says:
Great Ave to connect to new world of Brooklyn's travel, that has brought the Boro together once again. Let's serve the residents with this great Ave of biking, as I too commute with, Bike, foot & car. We can all survive, if we all share. As a driver this plan makes sense. We now need to focus more in South Brooklyn, Parallel with Ave U, Kingshway, Sheepsheadbay, connecting the Verizanno Bridge with Howard Beach. Hoping Brooklyn will soon be sharing the Vedizanno bridge with Bikes soon too��
Aug. 24, 2016, 1:07 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't appreciate the fake Tal comment above.
I happen to be the dumbest/fattest person I know and I should probably not comment on stories about Brooklyn since I live in Pleasantville.
Aug. 24, 2016, 8:47 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, cut the impersonations of me, because I find this to be very unprofessional and childish. ItsNotEasyBeingGreen, I hate to break this to you but, NYC isn't like anything in the Netherlands, and I have been to Amsterdam not that long ago. Such ideas might work there, but not always here. Another thing is that many of the places you bike zealots seem to compare have only a fraction of the city's population that doesn't even come close. More importantly, most of the city's already existing bike lanes are barely used on a normal basis, which is why I don't see a reason to make anymore. In other words, why create more for them? Some need to understand that this isn't the movie Field of Dreams where you have to build it for them to come when it doesn't work like that in real life. In reality, there needs to be a high demand to have such a infrastructure, otherwise it will be seen as a boondoggle and waste of space. According to a recent study in the US Census Bureau it was found that bicycle commuters are the lowest among all other commuters in the city that was topped with subways, buses, commuter trains, cars, and even walking while cycling was dead last with barely a few tenths of a percent. One other thing, I dare you bike zealots to ask the truckers that are using 4th Avenue if they would be comfortable with a bike lane, and they will probably say that they won't be especially when they could find it very difficult to pull over when having to deliver something to the stores that are there. Overall, just stick with what you have now and stay away from roads that commercial vehicles, because riding into them is really placing yourself into harm's way by being there.
Aug. 24, 2016, 3:56 pm
Susan from Sunset Park says:
Make it on second or third ave NOT 4th!!! And I didn't just move here from out of state or Manhattan.
Aug. 24, 2016, 6:22 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
They need the space on Third for their stupid trolley.
Aug. 24, 2016, 11:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, cut the impersonations of me, because I find this to be very unprofessional and childish and also because I never write long winded stuff that I have no idea what I'm talking about. Secondly, I think it's time I came clean about who I am and what I have always been. I am transitioning into a woman. I never felt right in my morbidly obese mans body and I want to be a big fat sexy slutty woman. Even since I was a little fat kid I knew something was off, and when I started wearing my mother's underwear I knew that someday I could be free from the shackles of oppression. I will have my genitals shredded and rebuilt into a mangina the way it should have been since birth.
Aug. 25, 2016, 9:22 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I take it that bike zealots have a history of sinking low and resorting to impersonations of me when they can't seem to prove their point any further.
Aug. 25, 2016, 3:52 pm
Tal Barzilai on the Boat from Pleasantville, NY says:
When I ride on boats they have a history of sinking low.
Aug. 25, 2016, 5:21 pm
Brian Tong from Concord, Staten Island, NY says:
"Another thing is that many of the places you bike zealots seem to compare have only a fraction of the city's population that doesn't even come close. More importantly, most of the city's already existing bike lanes are barely used on a normal basis, which is why I don't see a reason to make anymore. In other words, why create more for them? Some need to understand that this isn't the movie Field of Dreams where you have to build it for them to come when it doesn't work like that in real life."

Oh, but that is the case. Better cycling infrastructure -> greater perceptions of safety -> greater cycling modal share. It would take willful ignorance to discount the documented increase in cycling along the protected bike lanes (PBLs) of the Manhattan Avenues, Kent Ave, and more. Even if you're not willing to dig back through that, census data via the American Community Survey makes the increase in cycling fairly obvious.

"In reality, there needs to be a high demand to have such a infrastructure, otherwise it will be seen as a boondoggle and waste of space. According to a recent study in the US Census Bureau it was found that bicycle commuters are the lowest among all other commuters in the city that was topped with subways, buses, commuter trains, cars, and even walking while cycling was dead last with barely a few tenths of a percent."

It's well over "a few tenths of a percent"--check again for the 2014 ACS. Absolute numbers of cyclists shouldn't be expected to be large relative to users of other modes as most of the city's roads were designed without them in mind, but the daily bike commuter count has nonetheless
doubled from 2007, the year before Bloomberg and JSK inaugurated the Sustainable Streets Strategic Plan, to 2014. Again, verifiable via the ACS.

In addition, the PBLs create extra pedestrian space via traffic islands between bike lanes and general traffic lanes. For those who value pedestrian safety at intersections--the greatest concentrations of traffic collisions--the word boondoggle is more applicable to street designs that enable motorist speeding at the expense of streetscapes more balanced towards non-motorized transportation.

"One other thing, I dare you bike zealots to ask the truckers that are using 4th Avenue if they would be comfortable with a bike lane, and they will probably say that they won't be especially when they could find it very difficult to pull over when having to deliver something to the stores that are there."

Enforce designated loading zones for them. PBLs (between parked vehicles and the curb) would afford them buffer space to unload; it's already common practice in the PBLs of the Manhattan Avenues.
Aug. 26, 2016, 3:34 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Brain Tong, I hate to break this to you, but some of what you give is probably fudged data made to make it seem as if your group is big even when it isn't. Another thing is that nobody really hates bicycles or wants them off the road, just to follow the traffic laws, which is something that the bike zealots are pretty much against. Just creating a special infrastructure alone doesn't give safety, following the traffic laws does. Also, there are just some streets that shouldn't have bike lanes and that is with the major thoroughfares such as 4th Avenue being one of them. Another thing is that I have never heard Paul Steely White ever call out cyclists that flout laws while slamming motorists numerous times, which shows that he does have an anti-car bias and why I will never trust what anyone on Transportation Alternatives has to say about safe streets when they are placing all the blame on one group when there are others to place it around. This is just like Omar Barghoutti and the BDS talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while placing the blame solely on Israel while ignoring the actions of what the Palestinians do. BTW, I do support enforcement on motorists to follow the laws as I do myself, but that doesn't excuse cyclists from not doing it even if their number is less. Overall, nobody hates the concept of riding a bicycle, just the way some tend to act above them in always feeling that they are holier than thou just for having one.
Aug. 26, 2016, 6:52 pm
TOM MURPHY from Sunset Park says:
Interesting, very interesting.

Johnny-Come-Latelies all coming out against agreed plans. Set in concrete--you might say. Reverse gear. Tear out what's been done. Go back to the old scheme. Dig up Robert Moses.

Should be an interesting Community Board Transportation Committee meeting in Sunset Park come September.
Aug. 26, 2016, 11:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I hate bikes because they provide exercise.
Aug. 27, 2016, 6:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I sweat crisco.
Aug. 29, 2016, 9:26 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I enjoy bathing in hot garbage.
Aug. 30, 2016, 1:15 pm
Sonia from Sunset park says:
No bike lanes on 4th Avenue, i'm so tired of gentrification. We don't need them on 4th Ave, put them on Second Avenue.
Nov. 14, 2016, 5:08 pm

Comments closed.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: