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Bicycle Safety

New Twist in Kent Ave Saga: Safer Bike Path Plus Parking

4:42 PM EDT on May 4, 2009

After a contentious few months full of clowns, scantily-clad women, illegal billboards, and community board strife (since resolved), we may finally be approaching the denouement to the city's most talked about bike lane drama. The Brooklyn Paper reports on the latest Kent Avenue development:

In an attempt to make peace among cyclists, who support a pair of controversial Kent Avenue bike paths, and drivers and business ownerswho oppose the lanes because of their impact on parking, the city isforging a truce that could turn Kent Avenue into a one-way street linedon two sides of parking and loading zones -- as well as a protectedtwo-directional bike lane, sources told The Brooklyn Paper.

Insiders who attended meetings between the Department ofTransportation and factions of South Williamsburg’s Satmar communitysaid the one-way, one-lane Kent Avenue would run northbound betweenClymer and North 14th streets.

Such a plan would allow the city to convert the hotly contestedno-parking and no standing zones on either side of the road into legalparking lanes -- one of which would serve as a buffer for a protectedtwo-directional bike lane on the waterfront side of the roadway.

The new bike path will be separated by on-street markings a la Grand Street, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The configuration more closely resembles that of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which will eventually succeed the bike lane on Kent Avenue. "This establishes the greenway footprint much sooner than would otherwise be the case," said Transportation Alternatives' Wiley Norvell. A two-way protected path on Kent, he added, could serve as a groundbreaking precedent for other on-street paths -- even more so than the two-way path planned for Prospect Park West, which doesn't contend with any cross-traffic.

Another thing to watch for is the treatment of parking. The absence of parking on Kent has given pedestrians an unobstructed view of traffic, making crossing the street safer. The revised design should make ample use of daylighting to keep sightlines clear and open. "As long as those safety gains are preserved, this is a win," said Norvell.

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