The year of riding dangerously

Dueling rallies over bike lane! Supporters out-spoke foes
Photo by Paul Martinka

The federal government killed hundreds of geese in Prospect Park. The borough president used jail prisoners for free labor. And Brooklyn got so hot this year that a restaurant opened in Manhattan called “Brooklyneer.” But the story of the year — the controversy on everyone’s mind for an entire 12 months — was bike lanes. Here’s our review of the Year of Riding Dangerously:

No Ikea lanes: A “confrontational” Ikea manager, Mike Baker, slammed what he called a “dangerous” four-block bike lane on Columbia Street from Bay Street onto Halleck and Beard streets, which would pass in front of Ikea. Then, in December, he actually gave every one of his workers new bikes! And you thought biking in flip-flops was wrong.

Bay bike debacle: Bay Ridge’s community board voted against two new routes on Bay Ridge Parkway and Shore Road. Then community board members flip-flopped, saying that they’d take the bike lanes as long as they got a few left-turn lanes between Third and Sixth avenues on Bay Ridge Parkway. And thus, the bike lane became a community board’s best bargaining chip.

Flatbush fallout: Bike advocates called for a bike lane on Flatbush Avenue just one day after an 18-year-old Kensington cyclist was dragged and killed near Beverly Road by a driver. The advocates sought a lane from Manhattan Bridge to Marine Park, but the city told us that it wasn’t going to happen.

SoBroNoGo: In a symbol of the ultimate borough Civil War over bike lanes, Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) drafts a bill that would require the city to get community board approval for any future bike route. By year’s end, there was a hearing — and anti-bike lane Borough President Markowitz even sang his testimony to the tune of “My Favorite Things” (cycle lanes not among them, of course).

Bike gift: Markowitz turned Scrooge a few days later by turning down a gift bike from cycling activists who showed up to Borough Hall to complain about his stance on two-wheelers. Markowitz even responded in kind with his own holiday showtune parody against the lanes — and suggested the clowns give their bike to some children (who should never, ever use a bike lane). In the end, it sold on eBay for $45.

God 1, cyclists 0: Brooklyn Heights Parishioners at the First Presbyterian Church on Henry Street fought the law to make sure their choir members could park — in the bike lane — on service days, and they won. Assemblywoman Joan Millman called it a compromise, though her definition of “compromise” seems to include forcing cyclists to swerve into traffic while churchgoers get to continue to park illegally.

Bike Lane — the band: Leah Paul, an active flutist — and, of course, cyclist — started a four-piece chamber orchestra, and named it “Bike Lane” to show her colors in the ongoing debate between two-wheelers and their mobile nemeses (cars and pedestrians). Her lyric-less songs are anything but politically charged, but her band is good enough to make even Borough President Markowitz come to a show and say, “Hey, maybe I was wrong.” Probably not, though.

Williamsburg revamp: The Department of Transportation installed a smooth, resurfaced path on the Williamsburg Bridge, separating bikers from pedestrians this summer. It was a rare, non-confrontational win for the bikers this year, but it doesn’t stop bikers and pedestrians from tearing at one another’s throats — they regularly cross lanes and collide, leaving people “lying on the ground, bleeding from the head,” we reported.

Park bike path: Brooklyn Bridge Park finally got a safe and sexy bike path from Pier 1 to Pier 6 between Old Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue in August. It gives rare views of the river, without all that dangerous salmoning up one-way Furman Street. Just overlook all the unfinished construction in the park, and you’ll be fine.

OyPhone cycler: The biking iPhone thief — you know, the dude who started a crime wave last year by riding by and stealing the expensive devices — returned with a new string of attacks against park users in Park Slope and Prospect Heights. The guy’s even been hit by a passing van, but he’s still on the loose — hang on to those phones, Brooklyn, and get your own bike for escape purposes!