Bicycle commuters taking Bedford Avenue in South Williamsburg this week found that several bicycle lanes mysteriously vanished.
As reported by Gothamist, DOT workers were seen sandblasting a fourteen-block stretch of bicycle lanes early Monday morning, November 30, between Flushing and Division avenues in South Williamsburg.
The reasons behind why the bike lanes were removed remain unclear, but according to a statement released by DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow, the lanes were eliminated as part of an overall bike network plan the agency has for North Brooklyn, which includes two bike lanes on a recent one-way northbound conversion of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.
“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,” said Solomonow.
Transportation advocates reacted with shock and disappointment in the DOT’s decision.At a Community Board 1 meeting on December 1, Streetsblog writer Ben Fried voiced his concern about the removal of the lane during the board’s public session.
“As someone who uses this bike lane, I think it’s going to make a pretty critical connection more unsafe for people who get around by bike.We’re going to end up with vehicles moving faster than before,” said Fried. “Bedford is a direct connection that makes sense.It’s going to be less safe for me and other people who ride on it.”
Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Wiley Norvell said he disagreed with the decision to remove the lane and instead the organization is “encouraging folks to continue to ride and assert their right to the road,” while Neighbors Allied for Good Growth’s Lacey Tauber is drafting a letter to city officials to protest the recent move.
“I want to point out that DOT appears to have made this decision unilaterally, without informing stakeholders until the decision was made and removal was underway.This kind of top-down decision-making is unacceptable,” said Tauber.
Bike lanes in North Brooklyn have been a source of controversy for several years, culminating in the forced removal of the Community Board 1 Transportation Chair, Teresa Toro, over an internal matter regarding the reconstruction of Kent Avenue. Toro, who declined to speak on the record, resigned from Community Board 1 on December 1 and a replacement has not been named.
©2009 Community News Group