Residents: Bike Lane on Grand Street Needs to Be Improved — Not Removed
They came to complain about the unfinished Grand Street protected bike lane — but they mostly want it to be improved, not removed.
Cyclists and business owners alike told Community Board 1 on Monday that the current state of the hastily installed bike lane — which wasn’t fully implemented in advance of the now-scrubbed L-train shutdown — is dangerous for cyclists and disruptive to business along the corridor, due to design flaws in the lane and a lack of enforcement against cars parked in it.
“The implementation of the bike lane is awful,” said Kyle Yakal-Kremski, sporting a neck brace at the meeting. “I’m wearing this neck brace because of it.”
Yakal-Kremski says he was cycling in the lane when he hit an uneven utility cover and went flying.
“I hope something gets fixed because folks are going to get hurt on bikes,” he said. “Right now it’s almost worse than it was before.”
Nick Gorski, a cyclist from Ridgewood who was hit by a car on Grand Street in 2016, said the half-finished state of the bike lane was causing chaos, and that an increase in illegal parking enforcement would help make conditions safer.
“It’s not fully implemented yet and that is adding to the congestion and craziness because people are double-parking,” Gorski said. “If we had that extra level of enforcement and tried to get everybody on board with what we are seeing, I think a lot of these issues would be cleared up.”
Four people have been killed by cars on Grand Street over the past four years along the stretch in question, including cyclist Matthew von Ohlen in 2016, city statistics show. The lanes were installed in part to ease the pain of the L-train shutdown, but many safe streets advocates see the redesign as necessary regardless.
Local business owners present at the meeting were not uniformly opposed to the bike lanes, but thought they needed to be tweaked if they were to remain despite the cancelled shutdown. Many business owners in the city believe reduced street parking will lead to fewer customers, but members of this camp were largely absent from the Jan. 28 meeting. Gothamist recently detailed the anxieties of two anti-bike-lane business owners on Grand Street, and similar voices have been heard among landowners in Greenwich Village, where bikes lanes on 12th and 13th streets have been under fire.
Erik Pye, owner of Sunshine Glass, said he thinks the bike lane should be moved to a quieter residential street and made parking protected due to the dangers posed by delivery trucks on Grand Street. Pye said an employee of his was almost killed on Grand Street because he had to bike around an illegally parked truck.
Alexis Rodriguez, an organizer for Council Member Antonio Reynoso said he was open to hearing feedback from the business community and implementing loading zones, but that his office and the Department of Transportation were committed to putting the safety of pedestrians over cars and parking.
“Bikes over cars,” Rodriguez said.