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The city was wrong to remove the bike lane on Bedford Avenue this week.
As cyclists ourselves, we have often supported the Department of Transportation’s largely successful effort to encourage more bike commuting. But we have also been critical of the city’s sometimes willy-nilly installation of bike lanes in places where they simply do not belong.
For the most part during this surprisingly controversial ongoing story, we have been on the cyclists’ side.
The problem is, it’s not always been so clear what side that is.
In many neighborhoods, the city has laid down bike lanes with a complete disregard for traffic patterns or even a basic consideration of the already dangerous dance between cars and pedestrians.
The bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, for example, cuts through one of the most congested areas of the borough. By putting a bike lane there, the city is, in effect, encouraging bicyclists to take on buses, cars and thousands of jaywalking pedestrians. In this case, we have long argued with cycling advocacy groups and called for the bike lane to be removed.
But in other areas, new city bike lanes have been a boon to bicycle commuting, adding a sense of security and ownership that cyclists long lacked in this car-choked borough. Even in the face of some local objection, we have supported such lanes.
Bedford Avenue between Flushing Avenue and Division Street is just such a case. Along those 15 blocks, Bedford Avenue cuts through a residential neighborhood. Our on-the-ground experience has shown that wide, one-way avenues such as Bedford are ideal places for bike lanes. Indeed, this cycling path already terminated at Division Street, where Bedford Avenue narrows and can no longer safely accommodate bikers.
The Department of Transportation told The Brooklyn Paper this week that the Bedford Avenue bike lane was eliminated because cyclists have been given a superior alternative: the two-way protected bike lane on Kent Avenue, two avenues to the west of Bedford. While that lane is truly outstanding, it is certainly not enough for a neighborhood with one of the highest percentages of bike commuters.
The goal of bike lanes is to encourage cyclists to stick to safe routes. The Bedford Avenue bike lane did just that. The city was wrong to remove it.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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