The Case for the “Amity Street Wiggle”

Cyclists doing the "Amity Wiggle" during a demonstration set up by community members on Tuesday. Photo: David Meyer
Cyclists doing the “Amity Wiggle” during a demonstration set up by volunteers on Tuesday. Photo: David Meyer

Ian Dutton has an idea to improve the eastbound bike route through Cobble Hill.

The street network has no good, officially-sanctioned bike connection from points west of Court Street onto the Dean Street bike lane. But hundreds of cyclists each day make their own route, taking Amity Street, then doing a short jog against traffic on Court Street to hit Dean. That maneuver — which Dutton calls the “Amity Wiggle” — is technically illegal, and there’s no infrastructure to formalize it.

Dutton wants to change that. His proposal, which Community Board 6’s transportation committee will consider recommending to DOT at its meeting next week, would put a buffered bike lane on Amity between Henry Street and Court Street [PDF]. A concrete island would route cyclists through the wiggle onto Dean Street — while giving pedestrians a shorter crossing and discouraging drivers from following the same path:

This design for the "Amity Wiggle" would codify and make safer a common maneuver for cyclists traveling east from Brooklyn's waterfront neighborhoods. Image: Ian Dutton
This design for the “Amity Wiggle” would codify and improve the safety of a common maneuver for cyclists traveling east from the waterfront through Cobble Hill. Image: Bahij Chancey

To prevent cyclists from conflicting with southbound drivers on Court Street, a sign would direct them to proceed when pedestrians have the signal to cross and cars are stopped at Dean Street.

“If you’re coming from Brooklyn Heights and you want to get over to points east, it makes total sense,” said Dutton. “And people already do it. You come down Henry Street til it ends, the bike lane ends, turn on Amity and then you make the wiggle across Court Street.”

Community members chalked out the frame of the proposed design. Photo: David Meyer
The proposed design, in chalk and cones. Photo: David Meyer

Dutton tested out the design with chalk and orange cones for an hour and a half on Tuesday evening. In that time, dozens of cyclists — who presumably did not know the demonstration was happening — came down Amity, and did the “wiggle” over to Dean.

The turn off Amity is the “safest route” for cyclists, he said, and that should be common knowledge.

“We’re trying to, first of all, codify it so that it’s considered acceptable and permissible,” Dutton said. “But the bigger thing is if you don’t live here, you might not know that it’s the safest way.”

The CB 6 transportation committee meets next Thursday at the Prospect Park YMCA, 357 9th Street.

Update: Dutton said that the Community Board 6 transportation committee will wait until the fall before discussing his proposal in order to collect more input from the community.

  • I do the wiggle all the time. Nice work by Ian and company. This is a no-brainer. How nice it would be to see NYC adopt these kind of simple, low-cost solutions to rationalizing rules and connections for people on bikes.

  • William Farrell

    This is a great idea by Ian! I do this fairly regularly—every time I’m coming back from the Brooklyn Waterfront or Henry Street. It didn’t even occur to me that it was technically illegal, but upon closer inspection I suppose that is in fact the case. This obviously makes a lot of sense considering how many people already understand this to be the safest way to get to the Dean Street bike lane, so let’s formalize it with some minor infrastructure improvements!

  • Bahij

    Plan image credit too please. Supplied by Ian, drawn by me.

  • Matthew

    I – and presumably many others – have been doing the Amity Wiggle for 10 years. It is safe, now let’s make it formally approved.

  • Mackle

    It’s great to see an effort to close unsafe gaps in the biking infrastructure.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    This is the very beginning of a long process for a small project. Keep in touch with us at https://www.facebook.com/AmityWiggle – we’ll need your help!

  • The truth is if we are going to achieve Vision Zero and get even more people bicycling, we’re gonna need hundreds of little interventions like this throughout the city. Thankfully I think NYC DOT is becoming more receptive to closing the gaps.

  • Jason

    I think what makes it not-obvious what you’re doing is that people probably think what they’re really doing is riding in the crosswalk, in the direction of the crosswalk (presumably also illegal in NYC but it probably feels more like jaywalking than riding against traffic in terms of “how illegal is this?”).

  • AMH

    Biking in DC recently I noticed lots of new connections through plazas and one-way streets that make it incredibly easy to get somewhere. Here it often feels like you’re running into barriers every few blocks, facing a choice of riding the wrong way, using the sidewalk, going blocks out of your way, or some other suboptimal choice. We need to get rid of all the “dismount” signs and make most or all one-way streets two-way for bikes.

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    The Amity-Dean crossing at Court is the only point in my commute in which I salmon. But I do it every single day because Amity is the most sensible route east after coming down off the Brooklyn Bridge. And to be honest, the “wiggle” (I love that term) itself is also very sensible – Since traffic on Court is stopped when you do it, you have the time and space to make eye contact with the pedestrians, who know exactly what you’re doing and don’t seem to have an issue with it.

  • This is a good idea. I don’t really mind using Court St., as the lights are timed such that you can easily get to the left side of Court at Atlantic and then be ready for an easy turn on to Dean. Henry -> Amity -> Dean would be even better though, Court St. is one of those “compliance with traffic laws like speed limit optional” streets.

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