Residents: Bike Lane on Grand Street Needs to Be Improved — Not Removed

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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.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The quality of new bike lanes in NYC has trended downward for nearly a decade now, and the newest lanes are extremely narrow and in some cases have no physical barriers to driving and parking in the lane at all, not even plastic delineators (or the delineators are spaced so widely that they might as well not be there).

    This is the opposite of most other cities, where the quality of bike facilities has been trending up and we’re seeing a lot of projects with curbs and planters for separation. The best of these could actually be called cyclepaths rather than bike lanes!

    In NYC they almost seem to be treating the fact that drivers can easily block a bike lane as a feature. They’re building this feature into a very expensive, permanent capital design on Queens Boulevard. What the heck is going on?

  • Jacob

    Double parking is the predictable result of NYC failing to set parking pricing at a market rate to ensure empty spaces. When you reduce supply but fail to increase cost, you get illegal behavior (double parking).

  • Reader

    It’s also a predictable result of DOT designing streets that allow it. If double parkers blocked other drivers and not cyclists and pedestrians, you’d see a lot less double parking.

  • Robert Lancer

    I have no idea how parking is free in most of the city, who sets this policy? DOT?

  • Zach Katz

    Exactly. This is what the lanes should look like: https://momentummag.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/polk_web.jpg

  • Joe R.

    In NYC would would need a jersey barrier or fence. People will still park in bike lanes if the only obstacle is mounting a curb.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I think this would suffice in most locations, but there are certainly spots that need more. Vernon Boulevard probably won’t be 100% reliable until there is a center bollard to keep any full-sized vehicle out of the two-way bike lane there.

  • Andrew

    One selling point of a bike lane – and a counterpoint to the claim that it delays emergency response – is that it can be used by emergency vehicles when the vehicular roadway is congested.

    I like this bike lane a lot, but it isn’t wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles. Make that slight adjustment and I agree.

  • Zach Katz

    How does Amsterdam do it?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    This is a bad selling point. Nobody demands this of infrastructure for walking, and it should really only be an edge case where such a thing should be designed for (such as contraflow on the 2-way section of bike path on Canal between Forsyth and Christie by the Manhattan Bridge entrance).

    I see ambulances stuck in traffic on Route 9A all the time, but should those ambulances drive on the Hudson River Greenway? I say absolutely not.

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