Brooklyn Residents, Cyclists Debate Park Slope Bike Lane

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cyclists and supporters gathered at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to show support for a two-way bike lane created on Prospect Park West. (Erin McCarthy/WNYC)

Park Slope residents and cycling advocates led two boisterous rallies on Thursday, over the future of a protected bike lane along Prospect Park West.

More than 100 cyclists and bike lane supporters held a rally at Grand Army Plaza in support of the bike lane. Afterwards, supporters rode and walked two blocks to meet a smaller group of protestors speaking out against the bike lane.

The Department of Transportation created the bike lane this past summer, after the local community board voted for it in the hopes it would protect cyclists and cut down on speeding automobiles. As a result, Prospect Park West’s three car lanes became two lanes, and a buffer zone now separates the bike path from a designated parking lane.

On Thursday, the opposing groups crowded alongside the lane holding signs and chanting, while passing cyclists rang bike bells in protest.

Some Park Slope residents believe that the bike lane has made the street more dangerous, since pedestrians now have to cross a two-way bike lane and then a one-way street when leaving Prospect Park. Some residents also say that cyclists do not obey traffic lights along Prospect Park West.

Other concerns include increased congestion and increased parking difficulties due to the decreased number of lanes.

“It's created a lot of traffic on the park. It's affected schools along Prospect Park West where people are unable to drop off their children in a manner they were used to. It's not a good thing for the neighborhood,” said Karin Dimiceli, an office manager and Park Slope resident.

The bright green bike path also detracts from the historic district's appearance, said Katrin Rouner, who also lives in the neighborhood.

“The drawbacks in terms of increased traffic safety issues and the cost to the architecture and aesthetics of Park Slope seem to outweigh benefits,” she said.

However, cyclists and other supporters said it’s not a pedestrian safety issue, since cyclists should still obey traffic lights, and pedestrians simply need to look both ways before crossing. In addition, many believe slower traffic is an improvement for a street known for speeding cars.

“I used to have to ride on Prospect Park West before the bike lane and it was like taking your life in your own hands. It was too fast; the drivers were going way too fast,” said Marina Bekkerman, a graphic designer who takes her bike to work.

Perhaps most importantly, the bike lane provides cyclists with much safer commutes, supporters said.

“Whenever I'm on my bike, absolutely I'm very worried about being hit by a car, and it's so nice to have a little stretch of road where I don't have to worry about that,” said Charles Yuen, an artist living in Boerum Hill.

The Department of Transportation is currently monitoring the project and hopes to present its findings early next year.

Erin McCarthy/WNYC
A group of Park Slope residents protest a two-way bike lane on Prospect Park West in Park Slope, which reduced the street’s car lanes from three to two.


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Comments [12]

Alex G. from Malden, MA

Heywood Y. Yemutherblewmee from Park Slope: Where do you get your facts?

"Bikes belong in parks and non-vehicular areas." WRONG. See Laws of the State of New York, Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1234:

Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge.

There are many other sections of New York law that legitimize the use of bicycles in the state. Have you ever opened your eyes and seen who is traveling on the roads in New York? You will typicalyl see passenger cars, trucks, taxicabs, and bicycles. In short, everything. BICYCLES ARE A SERIOUS FORM OF TRANSPORTATION, ESPECIALLY IN DENSELY POPULATED AREAS SUCH AS NEW YORK CITY. Many people, such as myself, rely upon their bicycle, their only vechicle, as a serious form of transportation and to get necessities such as groceries.

That being said, this bike lane is an unusual design that is not employed elsewhere. A bike lane in the roadway ON THE RIGHT of a row of parked cars? There are reasons that you don't see such a design of a bike lane. A bike lane between parked cars and the car travel lane, sure; a smooth, continuous, dedicated cycle path on the sidewalk next to the pedestrian portion of the sidewalk, sure, you'll occasionally see that. This sort of design? It's a bad idea for a few different reasons.

Dec. 07 2010 12:54 PM
Heywood Y. Yemutherblewmee from Park Slope

Those bike lanes are a joke.
Bikes belong in parks and non-vehicular areas.
Manhattan is a CITY.
Tragically a young man lost his life yesterday so needlessly in Upper Manhattan.
He got "doored" and fell into the path of a delivery truck. Very stupid to ride a bike on a major avenue. How sad! Get RID of the bike lanes NOW.
Anyway you figure it, a 150-lb. human on a 30-lb. bike is no match for a 3,000-lb. car.
OBEY TRAFFIC LAWS cyclists and you will not have so much anger directed at you.STAY OFF SIDEWALKS.The police will soon begin a massive ticketing blitz against offenders. It's about time!

Oct. 23 2010 01:18 PM
Heywood Jablowyaself from Brooklyn

These motorists are a real threat. They disobey traffic laws. They have no respect for pedestrians, the elderly, the infirm. In the past two weeks I have witnessed three incidents where out-of-control drivers almost hit people. One jerk had the nerve to honk at a lady with a baby carriage and give her the finger.
Real classy, huh?!
In addition, many bike lanes have been obliterated by double parked cars.
The car lanes are a BAD IDEA

Oct. 22 2010 01:03 PM
Dick Hertz from Park Slope

Saw a bicyclist zip through a red light yesterday in Lower Manhattan. He broadsided a cab. Bike was destroyed, the frame was bent.Cyclist was bloodied and bruised but otherwise unhurt.A policeman was standing right there and saw it all.
The cop actually gave the cyclist a summons for running the red light. Can you believe it? These out-of-control bike riders should be summonsed each and every time they break the law.

Oct. 22 2010 10:20 AM
Eric McClure from Park Slope

While "more than 100" is technically accurate, more than 300 would have been more so. And they weren't just bike lane advocates, but traffic-calming advocates.

Oct. 22 2010 09:53 AM
Scott from Windsor Terrace

Kate has it right- WAY more than a 100 for cyclists- I would say 300. this reporter must have left at 7:50am!
All I can say to Mike hock -classy guy! People hitting each other is gonna improve things.
The rally was civil. The "residents' just don't understand that people use bicycles for everything and at all times of the year. They just do't get it. I thinnk the bike lane is aesthtically pleasing. Dissapointed in this reporting WNYC- and it's pledge week....

Oct. 21 2010 11:04 PM

Really biased the way you read the story--"Park Slope residents vs cyclists." I was at the ralley, I live on PPW and I am FOR The bike lane. Most if not all of the cyclists were park slope residents.

Love the anti-bike folks claim that the bike lane is "ugly." PPW was SO much more beautiful with 3 lanes of traffic and 2 more of parking! If you think cars are so gorgeous, why do you live in Park Slope? Move to Auto Row!

Oct. 21 2010 07:37 PM
ke1nyc from 36 yrs on Prospect Ave

Bike lane or no bike lane bikers need to use PPW just like any other commuter. Bike lanes are for new bikers or bikers lacking skill and confidence. I never found a problem riding the asphalt before the bike lanes were painted, but for many others I'm pretty sure it's a blessing. Residents against should just get used to it. They'll be happier once they do. Drivers complain about lost lane/space but they are ones who chose to transport themselves in a big space consuming box on wheels. Most of these people don't need to drive, it's a lazy choice. As for the history buffs, they're just silly.

Oct. 21 2010 06:51 PM
Mike Hock from 3rd St. entrance to Prospect Park

A bike was whizzing down the so called bike lane yesterday and went flying through a red light at an intersection. A black kid hollered at the hipster ,"Hey, why don't you slow the f... up a-hole?" The bicyclist turned around and came back to mouth off at the kid when the cyclist was completely in the wrong. Not smart. Without a word the kid cold-clocked the bicyclist with a right hand to the face that would have made Muhammed Ali proud. The look of surprise on the cyclist was priceless. About 4 or 5 witnesses gave the black kid a rousing cheer. There is justice in this world. If you want to ride a bikke, OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS. STOP AT ALL LIGHTS. YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS. How simple is that?!

Oct. 21 2010 06:07 PM
Danny G from Crown Heights

Prospect Park West is a historical street! This green paint is a travesty! We must restrict usage of PPW to pre-war vehicles such as Model-T's, Penny-farthings, trolley cars, and horse-drawn carriages ONLY!! And tear up that cursed "asphalt" and lay down some proper cobblestones!

Oct. 21 2010 05:14 PM
Heywood Jablowmee from Seventh Avenue, Park Slope

These bicyclists are a real threat. They disobey traffic laws. They have no respect for pedestrians, the elderly, the infirm. In the past two weeks I have witnessed three incidents where out-of-control cyclists almost hit people. One jerk had the nerve to curse a lady with a baby carriage and give her the finger.
Real classy, huh?!
In addition, many parking spaces have been obliterated.
The bike lanes are a BAD IDEA.

Oct. 21 2010 05:05 PM
Kate from Park Slope

It's worth noting that the anti- bike lane rally had about 40 participants, while the pro- bike lane contingent had far more than 100 -- closer to 250 by one count.

Oct. 21 2010 04:37 PM

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