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DOT Wipes 14 Blocks of Bike Lane Off Bedford Avenue

SandBlastingInProgress3.jpgWorkers 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 had been in place since 2007. The northbound bike lane now ends abruptly at Flushing, with space that once belonged to bikes already converted to left-turn lanes and the like:

LeftTurnNow.jpg

Official reasons for the removal are hazy. DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow sent the following statement by way of explanation:

A small portion of this lane is being removed as part of ongoing bike network adjustments in the area, which have included the recent addition of a barrier-protected connector lane on nearby Williamsburg Street and the completion of a unique, two-way protected lane on parallel Kent Avenue. We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety.

It's hard to see how any bike lane, let alone a popular and useful route like Bedford Avenue, can be removed without compromising safety. "This is a really heavily used segment of the Brooklyn bike network," said Transportation Alternatives' Wiley Norvell.
"Calling it redundant is a bit like saying it's redundant to have
sidewalks on the street. It's a necessary part of the transportation
system. Cyclists are still going to use Bedford Avenue in large
numbers, and they deserve a safe route."

Last year the Post reported that members of the Hasidic community objected to the Bedford lane, supposedly due to the scanty clothing of female cyclists, although plain old windshield perspective certainly seems to have played a role. Kvetching about "immodest" cyclists was deemed sufficient grounds to scuttle plans for a Borough Park bike lane -- all the way back in 1997. That similar complaints have undone safety gains here in 2009 is troubling, to say the least.

During his re-election campaign, Mayor Bloomberg struck a deal on several issues of special significance to Hasidic leaders. Whether the Bedford Avenue bike lane was part of the bargain, we can't say. But whatever was in the deal, it didn't help much at the polls. After two elections in which the Hasidic vote strongly backed Bloomberg, this year support for the mayor softened in Hasidic communities as it did everywhere else in the city.

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