Archive for the tag 'biking'

With a tainted history of traffic accidents and the death of a 4-year-old boy, Oriental Boulevard is now sporting brand new bike lane signs courtesy of the New York City Department of Transportation. The agency hopes the signs will provide a safer street, but local leaders are incensed, saying the signs indicate the agency is backtracking on community-led initiatives that the agency had previously appeared to support.

Keep reading to find out what locals have to say, and how the DOT defends its actions.

Source: Jaszek Photography via Flickr

A local advocate is proposing a marked bike lane on Emmons Avenue to make cycling on the busy stretch safer. The only problem is community leaders don’t care one iota for the plan.

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It’s no secret that City Councilman Lew Fidler is not one to coddle bike lane advocates. The pol has been painted by bicycling enthusiasts as a car-crazed obstructionist hell-bent on keeping his district’s yokels addicted to gasoline. But to locals, he’s a bit of a savior, winning over Community Boards and civic groups in his district by blasting the Department of Transportation’s misguided installation of bike lanes in awkward, unsafe and unwanted areas.

But if you ask the councilman, he’s not on a crusade against peddlers and their thoroughfares; he just wants more community input – and input from local cyclists – before a bike lane “drops out of the sky,” as he put it in September 2010, when he announced he would draft legislation securing that right. (Sheepshead Bites was the first to report on the legislation, back in August 2010.)

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As if the city’s bike lane battles weren’t serious enough – what with top-less protests, Holocaust comparisons, and misplaced priorities - Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz kicked it up a notch by skewering the city’s bike line obsession, and fanatical proponents, in a song and dance routine. Literally.

Joining the cast of Symphony Space’s political cabaret Thalia Follies during the production’s first Brooklyn performance, Marty Markowitz took to the stage to voice the plight of Brooklyn drivers, besieged by the city’s fast-and-furious implementation of lane alterations citywide. Bus lanes and bike lanes and sidewalk cafe lanes – all given a tribute of sort to the tune of “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

“Strollers and schlepers and skaters and joggers,/ Holiday lanes just for all the egg-noggers,/ Let’s not forget cars, it’s getting insane./ Welcome to Brooklyn the borough of lanes,” Markowitz crooned in his Elmer Fudd-like voice.

Keep reading to find out the backstory.

Intersection of West 9th Street and Avenue T. Source: Google Maps

There is no shortage of tragic reminders about how dangerous reckless bicycling can be in New York.

Thirty-nine-year-old Bath Beach resident Joseph Granati was pronounced dead after the bike he was riding collided with a 2002 Nissan Altima at the Gravesend intersection of West 9th Street and Avenue T just after 3 p.m. on Sunday, according to The Daily News.

Police officers on the scene reported that the unidentified 24-year-old driver who Granati crashed into had the right of way and that Granati — whose head reportedly “smashed through the rear passenger-side window of the car” when he tried to turn onto Avenue T off of West 9th — had gone through the red light and was killed upon impact.

The driver stayed at the accident scene and was not charged with any crime.

It is unknown whether or not Granati was wearing a safety helmet.

 

In yet another installment of the never-ending saga of Brooklyn’s bike lanes and the bicyclists who love them, cyclists all over the borough are gnashing their handlebars over an explosion in the amount of traffic tickets they’ve been slapped with this year versus the same time last year.

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With the midterm elections over, our nation taken back, it’s finally time to get down to the people’s business. There’s a sinister element among us, and we need to shine the light of freedom brightly upon it.

We’re talking, of course, about bikers. And no, not the leather, tattoo and goatee types, nor the midlife crisis-stricken insurance brokers out on Long Island who bought a Harley to prove to their younger co-workers that yes, they really are cool. (Ed. – We’re looking at you, Chad.)

I mean bicyclists. They’re everywhere, and they’re wreaking havoc among our citizens. Or at least, they may be, and the City Council Transportation Committee thinks we ought to know about it.

Bikes running over pedestrians, bikes colliding with other bikes, colliding with motor vehicles, crashing through shop windows, leading police on high speed chases before exploding in a fiery swan dive off of a cliff – okay, maybe not the last two, but the point remains: statistics on bicycle-related accidents are non-existent and are currently not collected by the NYPD or the DOT.

The City Council wants to change all that, seeking to put a bill to vote that would compel the Boys in Blue and the DOT to keep tabs on the pedaling menace, wherever it may lurk, which happens to be everywhere… except on bike lanes. The bill, expected to move forward early next year, would require reports to be filed for accidents involving bicyclists even when there is no automobile involved and no injuries occur.

“We cannot assess traffic safety without knowing how many accidents are caused by bicycles and where,” Transportation Committee chair Jimmy Vacca told CBS. “It’s an important part of our attempt to improve pedestrian safety in the city.”

[via Queens Crap]

– Eitan Kahan

Lantner-Survey-Graph

Courtesy of Murray Lantner

News about a survey popped up last week on Streetsblog that suggests Southern Brooklynites would be more likely to include bicycling in their commute if the streets were safer. The survey is admittedly flawed, but editor Ben Fried argues in the comments, “It does tell us these people exist, which is something you’d never know from listening to the local CB types and Lew.”

There’s been a lot of beating the drum about Southern Brooklyn being pro-car, anti-bike and anti-pedestrian over at Streetsblog – as if spotting a cyclist down here is like seeing a Sasquatch. But we know that’s not right; many of our readers use bicycles for commuting or recreation.

They are correct, though, in that the neighborhood is not as welcoming of bike lanes as other areas of the city – and many of the cyclists we speak to are just fine with that. So is it that our cyclists are ignored and marginalized? Or that bikers here have a more nuanced, less zealous view of bike lanes (and perhaps are less trusting of the DOT) than other communities?

Here’s an excerpt from Streetsblog:

Southern Brooklyn isn’t necessarily known as the epicenter of New York City cycling. Car-ownership rates are some of the highest in the city, and elected officials from the area tend to be particularly vocal livable streets opponents. But a recent, admittedly unscientific, survey shows that there’s a hunger for bike infrastructure from Sheepshead Bay to Mill Basin.

Murray Lantner, a livable streets activist who lives and grew up in Mill Basin, conducted the survey last fall, asking bus riders how they felt about bike lanes. About two-thirds of those who responded said that they’d like to see more bike lanes in their neighborhood. “Safety was a big concern,” said Lantner, “for them, or often for their kids.”

In these neighborhoods, relatively distant from the city’s job centers, cycling is more likely to link up with the subway system than serve as a stand-alone commute mode. Half the respondents said that if there was a network of safe bike lanes leading up to the King’s Highway B/Q station, along with bike parking, they’d start cycling to the subway rather than wait for the bus.

The survey has a small sample size and the data isn’t from a truly random group of bus riders — respondents were told the survey was about cycling. (You can see the whole thing, along with a letter Lantner wrote to the local community boards and elected officials in this PDF.) Even so, it shows that there’s a sizable pool of would-be cyclists in the area. And their voices aren’t being heard.

Instead, the elected and appointed representatives of these neighborhoods dominate the conversation and are uniformly anti-bike. A Courier-Life article from September noted that community board opposition to bike lanes has sprung up in Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, and Canarsie in recent months.

Source: Jaszek Photography via Flickr

City Councilman Lew Fidler is questioning the decision-making behind bike lane implementation in his district and across the boroughs, leading the city to re-evaluate proposed lanes in Canarsie and opening the door for challenges elsewhere.

In a letter to Department of Transportation Brooklyn Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, Fidler said it was “imperative that community feedback be factored into any proposed changes.”

The request came following months of outcry from Canarsie residents to the city’s plan to install bike lanes from Avenue D on East 95th Street to the Canarsie Pier, and from the pier to Ditmas Avenue on East 94th Street. The lanes would connect bicyclists to the Shore Parkway Greenway, which extends from Sheepshead Bay to Queens. Neighbors in Canarsie say the city is bike crazy and it doesn’t suit residents’ needs.

Fidler agrees that the plans, devised more than 10 years ago, are flawed and outdated.

Find out what’s wrong with the city’s bike plan, and what Fidler proposes to help.

Courtesy of LivableStreets.com

Courtesy of LivableStreets.com

A bicycling and public transit advocacy group says that the areas around the Kings Highway B and Q train station needs more bike paths to alleviate stress on the connecting bus lines.

Transportation Alternatives dispatched volunteers to the station in September to survey commuters waiting for the bus home from the train station. After speaking to residents from neighborhoods along the B2, B3K, B31, and B100 bus lines, they found Southern Brooklyn may be an amenable home to new bike routes along the wider, less congested streets.

“My impressions from this survey is that there is some interest in better bike lanes and infrastructure in Mill Basin, Marine Park, Madison, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, etc,” said Murray Latner, a former Mill Basin resident who produced the survey materials.

What do you think? Would more bike lanes and sheltered bike parking locations near subways alleviate congestion on the streets and crowding on buses? Would you use it?

[via LivableStreets.com]

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