Bike lane backpedal: City reverses on controversial cycling path

She got it done!: Marine Parker Rachel Breslof-Eng is all smiles now that the city has agreed to fix the hated bike lanes along E. 38th Street.
Brooklyn Daily
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They really got into gear!

The city agreed to revise controversial bike lanes it just laid down in Marine Park after community outcry last week. The Department of Transportation installed a “protected” bike lane on E. 38th Street between Avenues U and V, but angry neighbors say it dangerously narrowed the one-way street and forced cars to park too close to traffic. So the Department of Transport bowed to community pressure last Friday and agreed to change the lane — a victory for locals, according to one area resident who started a petition demanding the fix.

“Obviously we’re happy — of course, absolutely thrilled. Just waiting on when they will do it,” said Rachel Breslof-Eng. “We didn’t have a problem with the bike lane, we had a problem with cars being parked in the middle of the street and narrowing the lane of traffic. The entire block is very, very happy.”

The current configuration — where cyclists are given an 8-foot-wide, curb-side path separated from traffic by a row of parking — put parked cars too close to moving ones, and just a day after the lane was installed on Aug. 4, a few drivers had already nicked some idle vehicles and knocked off their mirrors, locals said.

Soon the city will flip-flop the lanes so that cars go back to parking curb-side and the bike lane will be next to traffic, which makes sense because so few cyclists use the street as it is, a local councilman said.

“This is not the Tour de France. You get one bike rider every once in awhile. You don’t need to inconvenience the whole community, because you get a couple bikers,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), who lobbied alongside state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Marine Park) for the fix.

The Department of Transportation plans make the change by the end of the month, a spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

Craig from Bushwick says:
“We didn’t have a problem with the bike lane, we had a problem with cars being parked in the middle of the street and narrowing the lane of traffic. The entire block is very, very happy.”

So you get rid of the bike lane rather than punishing drivers who don't know how to park?
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:08 am
Jeff from Greenpoint says:
"few drivers had already nicked some idle vehicles and knocked off their mirrors, locals said."

So I take it we'd rather they have "nicked" and "knocked off" some human beings? Does their argument really hinge upon the idea that parked cars are more worthy of protection than actual people?
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:11 am
Craig from Bushwick says:
Not to mention that there are tons of curb cut zones here that someone stopping for a minute can pull into rather than blocking the lane.

This is a common issue I've seen all over NYC—drivers would rather stay in a lane and block it, rather than take 10 seconds to pull over to the curb.

Lazy and entitled.
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:13 am
Adam Nelson from Clinton Hill says:
Yes, definitely better that humans get nicked and knocked off than cars. Thanks Rachel!
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:27 am
VLM from Brooklyn says:
So when a cyclist is killed here, we can hold the smiling Rachel Breslof-Eng responsible, yes?
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:27 am
It'sNotEasyBeingGreen from Sunset Park says:
So the street was narrowed to the same width as every other street in Brooklyn, but because Rachel and her other likely drunk neighbors can't drive they're making it worse to cycle to the Greenway that is being upgraded on Flatbush? A lot of people, including people who live in Marine Park, ride that way across the bridge to Riis Park and the Rockaways.
Aug. 17, 2016, 9:44 am
E.F. from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens says:
Learn how to park your damn car and you wouldn't have to suffer from this "inconvenience".

Let's see if she smiles that wide when a cyclist gets killed or severely injured, because she will be directly responsible for it.
Aug. 17, 2016, 10:34 am
Peter from Queens says:
You have got to be kidding me. Go check out that street on Google Street View - its insanely wide for a one-way street [could fit almost 3 cars in the travel lane before the bike lane went in] and it borders a park. There is no way that the installation of the bike lane made the street too narrow. And even so, take it to a 6' lane instead of 8' That is still within spec, and provides the protection cyclists need.

And as for the way this story is written its rubbish: no pictures of the street [can't see much in the one that is provided], no reporting on how wide the travel lane remains [12' is tight, 15' is plenty], a single interview with no discussion with cyclists or any information why DOT installed the lane in the first place - they don't do these things randomly so there must have been some data supporting it.
Aug. 17, 2016, 11:04 am
Mike from Slope says:
I bike through here all the time. The protected lane is great. It's too bad that Rachel can't drive well enough to avoid parked cars on a narrower street. Perhaps she should have her license revoked until she becomes a better driver.
Aug. 17, 2016, 11:14 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
... and no information about how this change violates NYC law?
Aug. 17, 2016, 11:22 am
Brian Van from Gramercy says:
"hated bike lane"

In a civilized society, we would look at a street design and offer feedback as to whether it is suitable and/or provide suggestions as to a more suitable solution. We'd do this in an orderly format.

We're not a civilized society. We're a bunch of animals who see something that isn't 100% apt for their own personal needs & then throw a temper tantrum in public over it, talking how much they "hate" it and how it "ruined" their lives and how it is completely intolerable.

Meanwhile, the desired change is to put cyclists in the way of general traffic on a street where people already seemed to have driving accuracy issues.

More than embarrassing, this is revolting behavior.
Aug. 17, 2016, 11:23 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Sounds like progress. Motorists that were knocking the mirrors off parked cars, will now be knocking people off their bikes. Nice work, Rachel Breslof-Eng!

Councilman Maisel sounds like a gem too.

“This is not the Tour de France. You get one bike rider every once in awhile. You don’t need to inconvenience the whole community, because you get a couple bikers,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), who lobbied alongside state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Marine Park) for the fix.

drivers = community
bicycle riders = not community

I could also see him lobbying hard against something like child-proof caps. Why make the "community" work their wrists over a few kids?

But, let's reserve the grand prize for Mayor Bill "Vision Zero" DeBlasio and his feckless transportation commissioner, Polly Trotenberg. Free parking > safety, once again.
Aug. 17, 2016, 12:01 pm
Yes! from NYC says:
Hey, I thought the great bikelash was OVER. Victory was declared, the bikes have WON! PSW and JSK said so.

Just not on the UES. Or Elmhurst. Or Clinton Hill. And Marine Park.

Nice to see communities finally standing up to the Dept of Transportation Alternatives.

Next, bring back Iris Weinshal as traffic commissioner!
Aug. 17, 2016, 12:25 pm
Rob from NY says:
Here's the Google Streetview.

This is a really really wide one-way street, with plenty of room for the bike lane and cars. If drivers were colliding with parked cars, those drivers should have their licenses revoked.
Aug. 17, 2016, 1:30 pm
Jay T. from Southtown Corvallis, OR says:
So will people riding bikes now have the guts to occupy the center of the traffic lane?

Seems like the safest spot. Bicycles rarely get rear ended. Bike lanes whether striped, separated, protected or buffered tend to set up the more common turning conflict with motor vehicles.
Aug. 17, 2016, 1:39 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
Rachel Breslof-Eng's driving license needs to be revoked. Clearly she and the others here are not capable of safely operating a car.
Aug. 17, 2016, 2:55 pm
Guest from NYC says:

The whole city needs a network of protected bicycle lanes to encourage more people to use that mode of transportation.
Aug. 17, 2016, 3:18 pm
Rachel Breslof-Eng from Marine Park says:
I thank you all for your comments... Now I have a few for you... 1. The lane of traffic was so narrow that you could not or unload passengers without being in the lane of traffic, hence putting EVERYONE in danger of getting hit. 2. The lane of traffic was much smaller than that of any other regular block. 3. Would have been impossible for a snow plow to come down the block. 4. I have NEVER EVER driven a car after having even one beer, this I find extremely offensive. 5. Never had a problem with a bike lane, it is now where it belongs. 6. Unless you know me, please don't comment about my parking our driving skills, I was not the driver who hit the cars. I would ask, if any of you drive down that block to see what was happening before you made your judgements? And most importantly, where were you when the ambulance had to drive up the wrong way in said bike lane to get a patient to the hospital because there was no where for it to go and no place for cars yup pull over? Again thank you for making it seem like the residents on this block are as entitled as you seem to think you are...
Aug. 17, 2016, 3:26 pm
June from Marine Park says:
Rachel did an awesome thing by raising her voice about this issue.. you all have something to say and yet YOU ARE NOT FROM THIS NEIGHBORHOOD!!!! Give me a break!!! it was so dangerous and I know Rachel personally.. There is no way for people to back out of their driveways without hitting cars that are basically parked in the middle of the street!!.. You want to blame Rachel if a human gets hurt??? YOU ARE ALL RIDICULOUS!!! no way you bikers need all that room !!!! Get over it!!!! Thank you Rachel!!!
Aug. 17, 2016, 3:42 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
And this is in a Borough that routinely allows double parking in street cleaning zones that often make a car protected bike lane on streets with bike lanes? I have routinely witnessed this and seen cars willingly parked in the middle of the street!

Bad driving should not be the defining nature of our shared street space policy, but it definitely should drive enforcement policy!
Aug. 17, 2016, 3:54 pm
Rachel Breslof-Eng from Marine Park says:
JJJJJ who are you??? This this is absolutely disgusting
Aug. 17, 2016, 4 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
Rachel, and here are some responses to your follow up.

1. Ok, genius. There's an easy way to solve that. Don't unload passengers in the travel lane!!

2. No, incorrect. Check out literally any other residential street borough wide.

3. HAHAH, no

4. You may driver sober but if you cannot control your car to avoid hitting mirrors etc than you don't deserve a license.

5. The problem is now you are all going to hit humans riding bikes with your car rather than parked cars. Do you get it?

6. Read the article. It represents that the reason you advocated for the change is that people driving down this street couldn't control their cars.

Net summary: convenient (but illegal) double parking and your right to drive poorly does not take precedent over the lives of cyclists.
Aug. 17, 2016, 4:19 pm
CeeCee from Marine Park says:
John -
1 - Did you drive down the street? If so, you clearly would have seen that passengers had no safe exit.
2 - They literally made over a double bike lane, not a single, regular bike lane. Again did you drive down the block to see it?
3 - Everyone who did drive down the street, agree there was no way for a snow plow to get down that block.
4 - Did you read the article? No where does it say Rachel hit other cars, because she didn't, others did.
5 - I suppose you would be okay with a child being hit by either a vehicle or bike since there was no safe exit from either side of a vehicle? (There is a baseball field and park right there.)
6 - There were numerous factors involved, and if you had driven down the block then you would have know why a change was needed.
Net summary: Unless you actually drove, walked or cycled down that block you have no clue what you are talking about.
Aug. 17, 2016, 4:41 pm
John from Brooklyn says:

Illegal double parking and your neighborhood's right to drive poorly does not take precedent.

Marine Park like it or not is part of the city of New York. Deal with it.
Aug. 17, 2016, 5:01 pm
Anthony from Gb says:
That block was ridiculous after the bike lane went in its just not set up for it not only was there a bike lane but also a secondary space for people to open their car doors I guess so as to not hit bike riding the street was tiny after and it is a main thoroughfare from kings plaza and after the belt parkway I drive for a living all the five boroughs and this block was a joke the way the did it not the same way I've seen anywhere
Aug. 17, 2016, 5:49 pm
CeeCee from Marine Park says:
John - Double parking happens all over New York, not just Marine Park. Personally, I think they should be towed, because obviously ticketing (and lack thereof) doesn't seem to help. If you had been on the block and saw the way it was done I truely believe you would have shook your head and asked who came up with this!

Anthony - you are correct it was terrible, I have never seen anything like this.
Aug. 17, 2016, 6:03 pm
George from Marine Park says:
The answer here is obvious -- keep the bike lane and get rid of a lane of parking. That would free up all sorts of room for cars to get by, and the bikers would have their safe route as well. Why should people just be able to leave their cars in the street when people are trying to get by -- get a driveway or get a garage. Or don't own a car.
Aug. 17, 2016, 8:01 pm
MP says:
Seems to me if this Rachel lady can't avoid a parked car she's the one with a problem. I don't know about yall, but I'd much rather have to avoid a parked car than a moving cyclist; maybe that's just me though.
Aug. 18, 2016, 8:13 am
Peter from Queens says:
Can someone go out there and take pictures of the travel lane and the bike and post a link to it, say on a Google drive? (this should have been in the original story) I don't want to be a self-entitled bicycling schmuck, but every time I look at the Google Streetview image, which pre-dates the bike lane, I see a ridiculous amount of space. So either DOT made the bike lane way too wide - which is an easy fix that does not require its removal. Or the residents just aren't dealing with change well and don't realize these conditions are pretty much standard for the rest of us who deal. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but any pics please? Even better if someone grabs a tape measure and runs it between 2 parked cars - then I'll go out and check my street too.
Aug. 18, 2016, 9:55 am
John from Brooklyn says:

It is a 12 foot wide travel lane with a 8 foot wide parking lane.

For anyone who cannot navigate that without smashing cars the answer is simple.

They shouldn't be driving!
Aug. 18, 2016, 9:58 am
TOM from Brooklyn(really) says:
Double-parking with all spots at the curb occupied is an absolute indicator of a lack of needed parking at a destination. Any planning for changes in the street layout should include this fact and not exacerbate this. If a change produces this condition(insufficient parking), it is bad planning and must be reversed and re-thought.

I think the locals here were not consulted.
Aug. 18, 2016, 2:21 pm
Cindy from Mill Basin says:
No one EVER said the bike lane needed to be removed.

I do not live on the block but I did walk over to see what the hoopla was about. The way the city had it was completely ridiculous and made me wonder who at the D.O.T. didn't bother taking his head out of his own ass that day to figure out the stupidity involved in initiating and having it installed (for lack of a better word) in the first place.

I do not have an actual picture but this is how it was set up.

Try to picture it yourself or even draw it as described and you, if you have even half a brain, should understand how STUPIDLY dangerous and ridiculous it was.

On the residential curbside was parking, THEN the lane for through traffic, THEN another lane for parking (which would normally be at curbside), THEN a completely useless lane approximately 3 feet wide (with lines indicating it was for nothing but probably for drivers to get out of their parked cars.) THEN your "protected" bike lane wide enough to park vehicles in it at the curb on the side where the park is located. Yes, the block is a wide block. However, the SET UP was ridiculous.

For those of you who say to get rid of the 2nd lane of parking, that's not feasible because many children play ball at the park and parking is already lacking because Ave V is a cut off / end block and Ave U is a through street with no parking available.

As my dad used to say often, engage brain before opening mouth!!

Rachel should be praised for getting the city to change their own stupidity!
Aug. 18, 2016, 7:53 pm
Peter from Queens says:
Thanks Cindy, that is actually how I think most of us envisioned it, and actually that design is not ridiculous and pretty typical. The "useless" 3 foot lane with the cross-hatching is called a buffer. Its purpose is as you sort of surmise, to protect cyclists from being "doored," which is one of the most common and most dangerous ways a cyclist gets injured - when someone exiting a car just opens their door without looking. The offset parking lane is what "protects" the bike lane, basically with a wall of metal cars.

Anyway, the issue is how wide that travel lane is - someone said it is 12 feet. Well that's onthe wide side of a travel lane that can be as narrow as 9 feet or so. And with 2 parking lanes of 8' width, when most cars are less than 7' wide, there is at least 14' of passage, and probably a bit more. C certainly wide enough for a plow, and wide enough for 2 cars to pass side by side, slowly and carefully. If one is parked, then that is certainly doable. Now again, maybe they could have taken a foot or two off the bike lane, but it sounds like there is as much room on that street for cars as there is on the street infront of my building.
Aug. 19, 2016, 9:13 am
Jack from Marine Park says:
Having cycled these streets for over 30 years, almost every week, and I can tell you adding bike lanes here are a complete waste of taxpayer money. There is plenty of space for drivers and cyclist to share these roads without a dedicated bike lane.

Focus should be on repairing the segment of Flatbush Ave from V to the Belt Parkway.
Aug. 19, 2016, 12:38 pm
Josh from Marine Park says:
All your hipsters go back to where you came from. Vision Zero and your hippie views are not welcome in Marine Park.
Aug. 19, 2016, 4:36 pm
Phyllis Howell from Marine Park says:
This article was brought to my attention and after reading it, I am appalled at the nasty and insensitive comments by posters. For those of us who live in the area and are familiar with the street, it was clearly a lack of judgement to create the bike lane in the manner it was done. This once quiet, one way street has been changed in many ways over the last few years. During the holidays, it becomes over crowded with cars using it as a parking lot to avoid paying the parking fees at Kings Plaza. During this season, it would be easy for a driver to think they merely waiting for a light , instead of a row of parked cars. For those who are impatient to wait for the lights and deal with the traffic on Flatbush, it has become a short-cut to speed down. For those going to the increasing -more-popular "snake park" it has become packed with cars severely limiting parking for the residents of the block. And of course, many cars think it is their private garbage pail to empty out their ashtrays and garbage on the curbs. Snow plows routinely damage cars under the best of circumstances. All of this was quietly tolerated by the residents in the spirit of being good neighbors. Then, one morning, they wake up and find the street sectioned off in the most ridiculous way. It has nothing to do with creating a bike lane. There is plenty of space to ride a bike., After all, there is a park on the entire side. All of you so-called experts from other areas have no idea what you are posting about. It is a busy street with loads of pedestrians both young and old. Rachel did not rip off the side view mirrors, the construction crews doing the work did. All of you who posted regarding Rachel's' bad driving do not even know her. To post that she was drinking or should have her license revoked is such an absurd comment I have to wonder if the poster is just a nasty, nasty individual with an wild imagination.Those who are posting about the multitude of double parked cars must be thinking of all other areas of Brooklyn where alternate side exists and those residents think it is perfectly alright to double park along the other side of the street. We do not have alternate side parking. We do not have places of worship on Coney Island Avenue where people are triple parked because they are attending a "religious service", while the cops look the other way. The way it was done was extremely dangerous and Rachel brought it to the attention of those in the area and it was reversed. If you don't live here, the rest of you should mind your own business. This issue does not concern you. We don't go around complaining about your block where one has to zig zag around illegally parked cars. And from the nastiness I read, I would bet those posters do not live in Marine park. At least I hope they don't.
Aug. 19, 2016, 5:17 pm
Resident from Marine Park says:
Waste of money putting a bike lane right next to a park with a huge bicycle track. If I ever need to get to the other side of the park, I ride IN THE PARK where it's safe and stay out of traffic. I don't know why they don't just widen the sidewalk three feet and put the bike lane on THAT, like they do in some European cities. It would save everyone a lot of grief and be safer too.
Aug. 24, 2016, 12:47 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Rachel Breslof-Eng should be proud of her legacy!
Aug. 24, 2016, 1:59 pm
Paul from Brooklyn says:
@ Phyllis Howell

Safe driving is everyone's business.

Rachel and the other people she defended are objectively not safe drivers. If they were they'd be able to navigate down a standard width street without ramming other vehicles.

It's not nasty when it is true dear.
Aug. 24, 2016, 2:24 pm
Rachel from Marine Park says:
Rob, the next time you are riding up the block let me know, I would like to have a civil discussion as to what the block was fighting for and about..
It certainly has absolutely nothing to do with double parking which those of us on the block have serious issues with... I also have photographs showing the dangerous situation that the cars parked in the middle lane were causing... Would like to show both sides of the story... Hope to see you soon...
Aug. 24, 2016, 4:01 pm
Rachel from Marine Park says:
I truly believe if we get together we can come up with a plan that is safe for EVERYONE
Aug. 24, 2016, 4:07 pm
Paul from Brooklyn says:

If you could stop ramming into parked cars that would help improve safety.
Aug. 25, 2016, 2:48 pm
bob says:
I don't understand how the local gvt can listen to such nonsense...
Aug. 29, 2016, 9:37 pm

Comments closed.

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