9th St bike lane tolls for thee

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Cyclists and local business owners are already fuming over bike lanes that were installed earlier this month on Ninth Street.

Bikers have been generally pleased by the special lanes, which run along the mostly residential strip from Prospect Park to Third Avenue. But between Fifth and Sixth avenues — where the two-way boulevard turns commercial — bikers are finding that the new paint has not eliminated an old problem: doubled-parked delivery trucks parked on what is supposed to be the bikers’ domain.

“It’s just as if the bike path doesn’t exist,” said Thessa Mooij, who has been cycling around Park Slope for five years. “Not that I expected any different.”

But business owners aren’t pleased, either.

A supervisor at Steve’s C-Town said the supermarket gets 10 to 20 deliveries a day and some of the delivery trucks have been hit with $115 tickets for double-parking in the bike lane.

“It’s a waste,” said the supervisor, who added that the employees have been ordered to work an hour earlier so that trucks can make 6 am deliveries.

A bookkeeper at A&K Tile Studio, a smaller store on Ninth Street, also said truck drivers “often get fined.”

The new bike lane was installed during the July 4 holiday week after months of sometimes-rancorous community debate. Opponents of the bike lane had cited the commercial portion of Ninth Street as evidence that the path would never function perfectly. But the Department of Transportation said that the wide, though lightly used, road was perfect for a bike lane.

Ultimately, Community Board 6 agreed.

Community activist Aaron Naparstek thinks the solution is to install bike lanes between parked cars and the sidewalk, as it is sometimes done in Paris and Copenhagen.

“Ninth Street would have been a good spot for DOT to experiment with that sort of design,” Naparstek said.

Other cyclists have chosen a more confrontational route. Since August 2006, bikers have posted pictures of illegally double-parked vehicles on the Web site The site’s 571 members also post license plate numbers and rank offenders.

“Drivers who notice me photographing their vehicle will think twice about parking in the bike lane,” one of the members said.

Despite that approach, many cyclists said that some type of obstruction is inevitable on commercial blocks.

“The trucks need to double-park somewhere to unload and the way Ninth Street is marked now, the trucks don’t have much leeway in terms of space,” said David Bijur.

Updated 4:31 pm, July 9, 2018
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