Greenpoint Avenue is latest battleground in the car-cyclist clash

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Greenpoint’s community board has asked the city to halt its plan to remove much-needed parking spaces to accommodate an extended bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue.

Transportation officials told community members last month that the city will take away 50 parking spaces between Kingsland Avenue and Humboldt Street in order to make the existing bike lane safer, plus add a cycle path on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.

The proposal would create a nine-foot buffer between cyclists in a six-foot-wide bike lane and cars, removing a lane of traffic typically used for parking on the north and south sides of the busy truck route.

In addition, the plan would add left-turn only lanes at Humboldt Street, Monitor Street and North Henry Street, and adding a left-turn lane at McGuinness Boulevard.

But Community Board 1 members voted last Wednesday to ask the city to reconsider.

“Taking away parking spaces is not the answer,” said CB1 Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen Nieves. “They’re saying this is a done deal, but before they even think of installing a bike lane on the bridge we need to deal with [traffic] on Greenpoint Avenue.”

The city began its $5.8-million bridge renovation in May 2010, after cycling advocates and community leaders complained that the street’s asphalt had become pockmarked and cracked and the area was unsafe to ride.

One cyclist skidded on the pavement and received 40 stitches after his bike got wedged into a crack in the bridge, mere days before the city began the work.

But the project has been delayed for several months as residents and Greenpoint business owners complained that the plan would inconvenience drivers and lead to traffic jams along the avenue.

Traffic on Greenpoint Avenue during morning and afternoon rush hours currently backs up several blocks — at some times all the way to McGuinness Boulevard.

A Department of Transportation spokesman did not return requests for comment. But a source said that the city remains adamant about building the bike lane.

Neighborhood cyclists hope the lane gets added as planned.

“It is a very dangerous and scary area to ride,” said CB1 member Julie Lawrence, who bikes to Queens along the road frequently. “It would be used more often if it was more hospitable to cyclists.”

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Reader Feedback

Dave from Park Slope says:
No one knows more about traffic engineering or parking management than local business owners, right? Right?
Oct. 11, 2011, 9:41 am
Unbiased Editor from Columbia J-School says:

I know you guys at the Brooklyn Paper have a really hard time with basic, fundamental objective journalism, particularly when it comes to covering transportation policy issues. So, let me help you out.

Rewrite your lede graf:

Greenpoint’s community board has asked the city to halt its plan to remove much-needed parking spaces to accommodate an extended bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue."

Like this:

"Greenpoint’s community board has asked the city to halt its plan to remove parking spaces to accommodate an extended bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue."

The phrase "much-needed" is editorializing, not straight news reporting. You're tipping your hand and showing that you think the parking is more important than the bike lane. You should save that for your editorial page rather than including it in the lede of your news story. Or you guys should just stop pretending that you're objective journalists -- you should stop pretending that you're "fair and balanced" -- and you should just be open and honest about your anti-bike, anti-pedestrian, anti-urban, anti-community advocacy.
Oct. 11, 2011, 9:59 am
Rob from Earth says:
Unbiased: How about rewriting it this way?

"The city, trying to reduce auto dependency to meet much-needed climate change goals, ran into opposition from a community board that would prefer rising sea levels to drown its neighborhood by 2050."
Oct. 11, 2011, 10:19 am
Danny from Queens says:
I know that splashy headlines get pageviews, but that 'Unbiased eEditor' has a pretty good point. I guess you guys are more like Fox News or the Village Voice than CNN or BBC.
Oct. 11, 2011, 10:28 am
Jimmy Walden from PPW says:
Gersh Kuntzman should be ashamed of himself.
Oct. 11, 2011, 10:30 am
agreement from me says:
U/E, didn't the Brooklyn Paper stop pretending it was objective some time ago? I mean, there wasn't an announcment or anything but it was pretty obvious to most people, wasn't it?
Oct. 11, 2011, 10:56 am
David from Reality says:
People (often local business owners) need to stop clinging to the debunked mob-myth that car traffic follows the same physics as water falling. Water, when it's path is blocked, goes down the nearest path of less resistance. TRAFFIC DOES NOT DO THAT. What congests a road is people choosing to drive on that road. Not a bike lane.
Oct. 11, 2011, 11:39 am
Lawrence from Park Slope says:
Bike lanes are very important and should be encouraged.
Oct. 11, 2011, 11:57 am
Greg from Greenpoint says:
Those parking space are much needed, so that neighborhood residents have places to park their SUVs after they're done killing Chinese delivery men with them.

I've lived in Brooklyn and Queens nearly all my life and somehow I've managed never to have a car. Isn't that insane??
Oct. 11, 2011, 12:53 pm
Jim from Greenpoint says:
The current bike lanes on Greenpoint Ave are inadequate and largely ignored by the cars (and LARGE trucks) that travel that stretch.

The westbound bike lane coming off the bridge becomes the main traffic lane while cars wait to turn left onto Monitor or Humboldt, forcing some cyclists onto the sidewalk. I try to hold my ground, and stay in the bike lane, but those 18-wheelers traveling off the bridge at speed make it difficult to stay on the street.

I understand it's a very industrial zone, and there are businesses with staff and customers, but there is plenty of parking on Kingsland/Monitor/N.Henry/Humboldt, or even Calyer and Meserole. It's not inhumane for motorists to walk 2 blocks to work. It IS inhumane, selfish, and mean-spirited to block improvements to cyclist and pedestrian safety so that motorists can park closer to a beer distributor, a scrap processor, and a sewage treatment plant.

The bridge itself is extremely dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The road surface is heavily marred, with no shoulder or bike-lane for cyclists. Cyclists are forced to walk (and often ride) on the sidewalk, which is barely wide enough for two people to walk abreast or pass each other without putting one of them in danger of being clipped by a wide truck or car mirror. As mentioned, the Brooklyn side of the bridge dumps cyclists into a bike lane overflowing with motor traffic. The Queens-side approach features an awkward intersection of streets with poor or non-existent crosswalks, and a confusing and unpredictable pattern of traffic flow, which is dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists alike.

I would love to see this area addressed. It's simply unsafe, and the preservation of parking spaces cannot justify further endangerment of non-motorized users.
Oct. 11, 2011, 4:41 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Business owners who want to provide parking should buy some land and provide parking. Streets are for moving people around.
Oct. 11, 2011, 5:15 pm
Pat from 11222 says:
And stores need to STOP getting their shelves stocked! We have enough stuff already. Stop buying things. Make those fat asses walk a mile or two then one day they'll appreciate how virtuous a world without cars and trucks will be.
Oct. 11, 2011, 5:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The area is highly industrial and commercial, plus trucks take up a lot of space there right even without the bike lanes. Putting them there will make matters go from bad to worse. I wouldn't consider it a good place to ride a bicycle as if most will hardly ever be using it on a daily basis anyway unless when TA needs to have their flash mob out. Also, Greenpoint Avenue is a major thoroughfare, which means that all vehicles are using it constantly, so there really shouldn't be any bike lanes. If there must be, then have a hearing on this as suggest about a few weeks back in the NY Post and by politicians such as Lew Fidler and James Vacca.
Oct. 11, 2011, 6:19 pm
Jim from Greenpoint says:
Tal, I hate to use a bumper-sticker phrase, but: Bikes are traffic too.

It IS a busy throughfare. The reasons motorists are on Greenpoint Ave are just as valid as the reasons cyclists and pedestrians are, too. And while it is heavily industrial, the neighborhood is changing (for better or worse, is up to you, but I'll take bike lanes over oil spills any day of the week)

If anything, we want to promote more bike and pedestrian traffic on that street (and all streets, for that matter). And when I say promote cycling and walking, I don't mean keep the same amount of motorists, and just add a bunch of bikes. I mean convert some of those single-occupancy cars into bike traffic, and reduce the congestion on the streets.

Bike lanes are used by more than just recreational cyclists and advocacy groups. I commute from Greenpoint to Midtown every day, and if anything, we need more bike lanes, and wider ones at that. Can you believe there are bike traffic jams on the 1st/2nd ave bike lanes during rush hour? There are a LOT of us out here riding, and we're only using a small sliver of pavement, even though some routes could benefit from a two-lane bike route.
Oct. 11, 2011, 8:17 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
Tal: Keep crafting your conspiracy theories in your parents' basement in Westchester. We'll do the work of making this city safer for everyone.
Oct. 12, 2011, 3:43 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Disreguarding the personal attacks aimed at me, I think it's a bad idea to shorten lanes on any major thoroughfare assuming you bike zealouts know what that is. If you use this street daily, then you are most likely one of the few. I have heard many stories over on the City Room also implying that hardly any cyclists use them, and even those that write or comment on the Post and Daily News say that as well. Again, if there is really support for bike lanes, then have hearings on them rather than just have someone put them arbitrairly. I think you only oppose them, because the majority is probably against you, otherwise you would be supporting them.
Oct. 12, 2011, 7:27 pm
Chris from Bushwick says:
Since you lack both the capacity to be even remotely coherent in your comments and the capacity to read, Tal, let me point out that this entire article is about the DOT's presentation of the bike lane at a public meeting. Nobody is putting them in arbitrarily.

Stop wasting your time talking about things you know nothing about and do something productive with your life.
Oct. 17, 2011, 6:15 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Chris, stop with the personal attacks. I am entiteled to my opinion as a tax-paying motorist that is tired of the endless pandering to special interest groups fronted by all you streetsblogger zealouts. I feel like Israel, with the whole world against it while everybody sympathizes with Hamas b/c they are percieved as the underdog when all they do is blow up law-abiding innoccant israeli citizens. Back to the issue. I take issue with the comment that I know nothing and that I don't do anything productive with my life. If anything, my job at the recycling plant only solidifies my credentials as a nerdy-leftist. My colleagues at work consider me an expert on current events and give me the respect that I have earned. Stop with the personal attacks b/c they only weaken your argument. On a side note, collisions btw bikers and motorists are only going to increasae b/c the city keeps taking away lanes from motorists and gives it over to bike zealouts who willfully flount the law.
Oct. 18, 2011, 12:20 pm
Mike says:
Spending your days sorting trash (er, recycling) doesn't say anything about your politics, and yours are anything but environmentalist.
Oct. 18, 2011, 11 pm

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