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Cyclists: City must finish promised Grand Street bike lanes despite about face in L closure

Just clean it already!: The city must finish the Grand Street bike lane before more cyclists die or get hurt.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a wheel concern.

The city must finish installing new bike lanes it began laying along Grand Street ahead of the long-promised L-train closure that Gov. Cuomo abruptly called off this month, demanded cyclists, who worried the change in plans will jeopardize the completion of long-sought-after infrastructure.

“I’m absolutely concerned that all sorts of stuff could fall through the cracks,” said pedal pusher Philip Leff, a Williamsburger and member of the pro-cycling group Transportation Alternatives.

Department of Transportation workers last fall began work on the two so-called protected bike lanes on Grand Street between Morgan Avenue and Rodney Street, months after agency honchos revealed their redesign of the commercial strip where three cyclists died in fatal crashes since 2016.

The redesign calls for removing one of two parking lanes on that stretch to make room for the green bike paths — one of which is separated from traffic by the remaining parking lane, while the other runs behind a painted buffer and plastic poles — which transit leaders said would allow Grand Street to better accommodate some of those 250,000 daily L-train riders whom officials expected to pedal across the East River once subway service to Manhattan stopped during the shutdown.

But now the job is seemingly in limbo, according to cyclists, who said swaths of the green bike lanes are still not in place, causing chaos because motorists continue to park on the incomplete pedalers’ paths, forcing bicyclists to swerve into traffic.

“It’s problematic because cars just park there, and I have to go around them into traffic on Grand Street, which is used by a lot of trucks going to and from industrial areas,” said Yehuda Pollack, a Queens resident who regularly cycles through Williamsburg.

Another bicyclist who frequently pedals along Grand Street echoed Pollack’s complaints, accusing the city of abandoning the in-the-works project despite the Transportation Department assuring him in a November tweet that work on the lanes would continue through the winter.

“There’s really no effort being made to actually finish,” said Eric Helms, who lives just beyond Bushwick in Queens, and rides through Williamsburg nearly everyday. “No one is taking it seriously, someone likely will get hurt because of it.”

Earlier this week, the in-the-works lanes on Grand Street between Manhattan and Graham avenues — where a hit-and-run driver fatally smashed into cyclist Matthew Von Ohlen in 2016 — were only semi-complete when this reporter paid a visit on Tuesday. There was no green paint on the pavement to identify the paths, and plastic Con Edison barriers sat in the middle of the Bushwick-bound lane.

Other blocks’ lanes are similarly unfinished, according to Leff, who blasted the city for not cracking down enough on those scofflaws who blatantly obstruct the in-progress paths.

“There are definitely spots where either they’re not completely painted, or not completely enforced, that’s a key part of it too,” he said.

And cyclists aren’t the only ones concerned — a handful of local pols recently rallied to demand that city and state officials move forward with installing the bike lanes, and that transportation bigwigs better communicate with anxious straphangers as they sort out the details following the about face in repair plans.

“You can’t merely implement a major change in procedure without major planning and communicat­ion,” Borough President Adams said outside the Lorimer Street L station during the Sunday demonstration also attended by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D–Williamsbu­rg), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Williamsbu­rg), Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Williamsburg), state Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D–Williamsbu­rg), and other pols.

City transit leaders, however, continue to remain mum about the fate of the various alternative transportation options planned for the now-cancelled shutdown — which in addition to the bike lanes include a dedicated Williamsburg–Manhattan ferry service, new bus routes, and more — only promising to reveal any changes to those plans after the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Agency provides more information on its newly adopted scheme to fix the L line.

“As we get more information from the MTA on the new L train plan, we will look at our planned efforts to make sure we are implementing the right elements,” said Transportation Department spokeswoman Alana Morales.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, January 10, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
Governor Crony is a hypocritical superhero that wastes three plus of our own lives while building a national profile to run for president in 2020. Then again, we all, including the DOT have been caught off guard by his own crusade.
Jan. 10, 7:21 am
Pootie Loo from Bicycles now! says:
We don’t care how many millions it costs! You said it, now you have to do it!
Jan. 10, 10 am
Janet from Park Slope says:
Very strong sense of entitlement here.
Jan. 10, 10:52 am
Local from Brooklyn says:
I agree, Janet. People who expect to store their cars on the street for free or next to nothing at the expense of people's safety are the most entitled people in the city.
Jan. 10, 11:26 am
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
People who expect people of all ages/physical capabilities, family sizes and job requirements to ride around on bicycles and haul them up stairs into their homes are clueless and immature. Or do you expect them to be "stored" on the streets?
Jan. 10, 11:46 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
The 90th precinct of the NYPD is obviously not up to the task of enforcing the laws. And the drivers are selfish and lawless. DOT needs to fix the streets so that the drivers can't keep doing this.
Jan. 10, 11:54 am
Jim from PP says:
Who knew paying taxes to use the streets was "free"? Along with finishing this up-can we get some education for cyclists to actually comply with the rules of the road?
Jan. 10, 1:41 pm
Georgina Washington says:
This whole thing is basically saying to the handicapped “you’re not included. You don’t matter.”
Jan. 10, 2:02 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
The Brooklyn Paper publishes an article complete with pictures of drivers breaking the law and Jim here thinks he's some genius by saying that it's people on bikes who don't follow rules. While Georginia wishes she were handicapped so people wouldn't judge her for being too selfish to follow rules. Go read the article published right below this one. Your kind killed yet another person. Until you stop killing, cars should be extremely limited.
Jan. 10, 2:08 pm
Wilma Hoomp from East New York says:
I can fit 7 people in my car, 12 if there’s no seatbelts being used. You can fit 1 person on your bicycle. It’s just selfish! There’s 12 times as many people being served by my car. If everyone had to operate their own, individual vehicle like these bicycles, there would be no parking anywhere. If you hate being around other people, I guess you bicycle.
Jan. 10, 2:50 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
There is an epidemic of non union workers being killed building hi-rinses in NYC. Building should be extremely limited until until developers stop killing.
Jan. 10, 3:42 pm
Ron from WB says:
LOL at all the fat self entitled motorists complaining here! Brooklyn never used to have so many whiners, what happened?
Jan. 10, 9:24 pm
Katie from Bushwick says:
More bikers get killed because there are more bikers in the streets, most violating traffic laws.
Jan. 11, 3:41 am
Master Clinton Hills from The Hill says:
Lots of entitled bicyclists here whining.
Jan. 11, 11:01 am
Jim from Greenpoint says:
most of the bikers are selfish and don't care about the local businesses losing money!! we need to get rid of bike lanes big time,
Jan. 11, 12:42 pm
Ben from Brooklyn says:
bikers are not following rules and regulations, no respect what so ever!!!
Jan. 11, 12:43 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Jim, I spend a lot more money on Grand St than the people who drive and park in the bike lanes do. Go ruin your own neighborhood.
Jan. 11, 2:06 pm
Terrified To Bike Because of Entitled Car Drivers from Bushwick says:
You have got to be kidding me, demanding FREE car parking is the definition of entitlement. I'm so glad you really believe that your 2 ton, carbon belching, murder machine is more efficient than a bike, Wilma, but you’re wrong, and you’re endangering the lives of your passengers if no one is wearing a seatbelt – not to mention the fact that I highly doubt you regularly fit 12 people into your car, I’m sure it’s usually parked on the street just waiting for your lazy butt to move it for street cleaning. Kate – you’re an idiot. More bicycles means safety in numbers, people in Amsterdam aren’t dying wholesale because they all ride bikes, people in NYC ARE dying because of too many cars.
Jan. 11, 2:42 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
People in Amsterdam are following the rules, and not racing thru the streets like it was the Tour de France. NYC had a chance to define the etiquette of bikes, and never did. Now it's too late. Enforce the bike rules one day a year and you will hear whining like never before
Jan. 11, 5:21 pm
driver from williamsburg says:
I think we should start charging registration fees and requiring insurance for our bike loving members...and please remove those bike racks I'm tired of tripping over them...so much about free parking for cars...what about free bike lanes and no tickets for bad peddlers. You see more bikes riding the wrong way zipping thru lights and riding on the sidewalks than cars...so pleeezzz get real. We all deserve to get around as we need to...it isn't them or us...we're all humans so how about a little respect for all of our needs.
Jan. 11, 5:31 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I just feel that we don't need to redesign streets just for a small percentage of commuters such as cyclists. According to the US Census Bureau, they are less than 1% of all NYC commuters. Please tell me why do they need so many dedicated lanes that they don't use for the most part anyway? It feel like a waste of money not to mention hurting those that are on the roads on a regular basis. Let's not forget that cyclists have a history of ignoring traffic laws and always believe that they are holier than thou to everyone else just because they ride a bicycle. On a side note, I am all for having adult cyclists having their bicycles registered, licensed, and insured, but I know the bike zealots will never support this if this means that they can now get tracked down whenever they try to flee to the scene of an accident they cause. As for Amsterdam, maybe they follow the rules more because they don't want to fall into any canals if they don't, but at least they aren't try to act like victims to the rules as they do here, which I find to be a double standard when they claim that all motorists should follow every letter of the law with strict enforcement hence Animal Farms.
Jan. 11, 5:53 pm
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Have two cars - one for here and the other for my vacation/weekend place - entitled and happily so so lil biker kids suck it up Btw if I need to Pull over I will not that I don’t want to hit anyone Mazel tov kiddies
Jan. 12, 4:35 pm

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