Eyes on the Street: Time to Upgrade the 9th Street Bike Lane

The Ninth Street “bike” lane in Park Slope. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke
The Ninth Street “bike” lane in Park Slope. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke

It was 2007 when DOT striped buffered bike lanes on Ninth Street in Park Slope, an improvement made possible thanks to the work of safe streets advocates.

At the time, simply getting this road diet implemented was a struggle, with car owners on the local community board complaining that it would lead to more double-parking enforcement. If only!

Fast forward a decade and there’s no sign of double-parking enforcement. This morning, Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, tweeted this photo of westbound Ninth Street between Sixth and Fifth avenues. Commercial vehicles, for-hire drivers, and shoppers driving to the C-Town routinely take over the bike lane here and force cyclists into traffic.

It’s a scene that Mayor de Blasio must see on a regular basis. The YMCA where de Blasio takes his chauffeured SUV to work out is on the same block. The mayor’s convoy was spotted there this morning.

De Blasio’s DOT could make this street work a lot better. As Doug notes in his tweet, there’s room to flip the bike lane and the parking lane, and additional loading zones could keep commercial vehicles from blocking traffic. It’s obvious the current design is putting people in harm’s way.

After 10 years it’s time for an upgrade.

  • Thank you for amplifying this, Brad. I’ll add that there have been some very nasty crashes at nearly every intersection on 9th Street from 3rd Ave up to PPW, especially at 9th St and 5th Ave. Drivers have crashed into stores on both sides of the street.



    And a person on a bike was killed at 9th Ave and 5th Street early last year.


    Every time one of these crashes occur there are a flurry of calls for the street to be upgraded. And then, of course, nothing happens. We should not be surprised the next time someone is killed on 9th Street. We must hold the people who can fix it accountable.

  • Geck

    When on a bike, I generally go out of my way to use streets with bike lanes, but I prefer to use 7th and 8th Streets or 10th Street rather than the lanes on 9th Street, as currently configured.

  • Rhys

    Flipping the bike and parking lane would create a bad (unsafe) design pattern, one that has been shown to injure and kill cyclists at higher rates because the row of parked vehicles hides bicyclists from moving motorists (and vice versa), and the cyclists get funneled into killzones in the intersections. The NACTO manual advises against that design and for that reason.

    You’d be better off to abandon the illusion of protected lanes in such a congested, built-out area and push for lower speeds on those surface streets instead. BMUFL signs FTW.

  • J

    I respectfully but strongly disagree, and I have the following sources to back it up. The NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide fully endorses parking protected bike lanes:

    As does the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide

    And data from a NYC study on the safety of protected bike lanes shows dramatic safety improvements, summarized below:
    -Crashes with injuries have been reduced by 17%
    -Pedestrian injuries are down by 22%
    -Cyclist injuries show a minor improvement even as bicycle volumes have dramatically increased
    -Total injuries have dropped by 20%

  • mfs

    It’s not just bike lanes that are needed. The multiple two-way/two-way intersections, like 6th & 9th, are perfect places to try out roundabouts. Would improve ped safety and the measures are well-matched to the traffic flow. Plus 9th street is wide enough to accommodate them.

  • JudenChino

    I used to take 9th street. Not anymore. It’s terrible. It’s such a wide street too that it’s crying out for a protected bike lane. And 9th street has tons of extra capacity too. I no longer take it because it’s a Truck route and I’ve seen too many close calls, despite it being on my route. I now take 5th ave all the way up to Bergen street.

    Oh, and can we address the stupidity of the Union Street bike lane that goes over the Gowanus. You cannot access it. If you take Union west you hit a one way at 3rd ave, making it virtually impossible to ever access the counter-flow lane over the bridge. Which is really dumb b/c they put in a nice bike lane on Bond St, which would be a nice connection to downtown BK and the bridges. The counterflow lane should begin at 3rd ave, but the city would rather give away millions of dollars in parking then have a sensible bike plan. We need a fucking bike czar already.

  • Wilfried84

    Thank you for providing facts to counter VC alternative facts.