Kent Ave Bike Lane Stirs Passions in Williamsburg

kent_ave_small.jpgThe Kent Avenue lane at work, with squad car. Photo: i’m not sayin, i’m just sayin.

New York’s latest bike lane skirmish flared up Monday night at a "transportation town hall" in Williamsburg. About 150 people turned out, and DOT bike program coordinator Josh Benson caught an earful from bike lane opponents upset over new parking rules on Kent Avenue, in effect since last month.

Convened by City Council members Yassky and Reyna, the meeting got off to a rough start after MTA reps delivered news about service cuts that will affect the neighborhood. The tone was set for a contentious discussion of Kent Avenue. "Business owners came out against it," said Sholom Brody, a member of TA’s Brooklyn Committee. "The problem is ‘no
standing’; they’re really upset about the stretch between Clymer and Division Avenue," a small portion of the lane’s full length.

The parking situation has already been through community board review. In April, CB1 approved plans for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which would offset the removal of parking spots on Kent by identifying new spaces on side streets. (The current bike lane is a stopgap until the Greenway is built.) All told, DOT made three presentations to the community board about the project [PDF]. Opponents now say this process was insufficient.

An NYPD ticket blitz immediately after the parking rules took effect appears to have inflamed opposition, and the usual canards, of course, are in full effect. According to Brody, one bike lane opponent claimed to have seen only 20 cyclists use
the lane over the course of a full day, a figure that DOT refuted with its own 12-hour count — 500 cyclists.

Streetsblog regular Dave "Paco" Abraham inspected the new lane on a recent ride organized by the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. Any hindrance to drop-offs and deliveries caused by the "no standing" rule need not give rise to a hot-blooded confrontation, he says. "The problem is very workable and the BGI and CB1 supporters readily admit it should be addressed and corrected."

Fine-tuning is already underway. "DOT has been working with local businesses and the community to address changes brought about by the project and will continue to look for ways to minimize any impacts," said spokesman Scott Gastel. The agency has set aside a bus pickup and drop-off zone outside one school and approved a loading zone for a local business.

Despite signals that the kinks will be worked out, a vocal opposition based in the neighborhood’s Hasidic community is not embracing a conciliatory tone, to put it mildly.

All indications are that the all-out war approach is a non-starter. "We often see issues like Kent Avenue turned into a referendum on
bicycling. That doesn’t get us anywhere," said TA’s Wiley Norvell. "Turning Kent back into a
dangerous truck route with no provision for the hundreds of bicyclists who use it every day would be reckless."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DOT Proposes Flushing Ave Bikeway in Prelude to Major Greenway Push

|
Image: NYCDOT [PDF] Here’s a look at the Flushing Avenue bike path concept that NYCDOT presented to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee last night. This project would add another preliminary link to the path of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, following in the footsteps of the Kent Avenue bike lane. After a round of […]

Kent Avenue: A Bikeway for All Ages

|
While Clarence was out this weekend taping Right of Way install a memorial to victims of traffic violence, he also got this footage of the Kent Avenue bike lane in Williamsburg. Where else but a protected bike lane will you ever see so many kids biking on the street in NYC? Not that long ago, Kent Avenue […]

DOT Wipes 14 Blocks of Bike Lane Off Bedford Avenue

|
Workers blast away at the Bedford Avenue bike lane. Photo: Elizabeth Press. As reported by Gothamist, DOT is removing a 14-block stretch of the Bedford Avenue bike lane between Flushing Avenue and Division Street in Hasidic Williamsburg. Workers were seen erasing the lane this morning, taking away a safer cycling connection to central Williamsburg that […]

Eyes on the Street: Drivers Retake the Kent Avenue Bike Lane

|
DOT reconfigured the southern part of the Kent Avenue bike lane this spring, but that hasn’t stopped drivers from taking over the lane and the sidewalk for personal parking. A reader took this photo earlier today. He writes: I bike from LIC to Clinton Hill every morning and use the Kent Ave bike path. Luckily […]

DOT Plans Road Diet and Bikeway Upgrade on Deadly Section of Kent Avenue

|
Last night, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee unanimously recommended the board support a DOT project [PDF] to calm traffic on a deadly stretch of Kent Avenue between Clymer Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The project also upgrades a link in the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway to a two-way protected bike lane. Last March, hit-and-run driver Julio Acevedo, […]