A group of Ditmas Park cyclists are clamoring for more bike routes on their side of Prospect Park — and they’re recruiting neighborhood businesses to help them increase the borough’s bike lane network.
Bicycle advocates say there are no bike lanes running through Ditmas Park with the exception of Ocean Parkway and Bedford Avenue and want the city to make good on its plans to put bicycle paths on Dorchester, Westminster and Stratford roads.
“We’re 30 years behind other countries on this,” said Rene Netter, a cycling enthusiast who founded a Friday-night bicycling tour through the neighborhood called Ditmas Rides. “The city should be putting in a bike grid to connect this area to Prospect Park and the ocean.”
Netter and cyclist Julie May spent last month getting more than fifteen Ditmas Park businesses to join the Bike Friendly Business Campaign — which May sees as the first step toward putting together a serious bike lane proposal for neighborhood community groups and the city’s Department of Transportation.
“Businesses really makes things move,” said May. “They can start petitioning the city for bike racks and eventually get something to the community board.”
Merchants who enroll in the program, which is sponsored by the bicyclist-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, pledge to educate their delivery men on the city’s bicycling rules. In turn, their business is added to a list of bike-friendly stores and eateries on www.bikingrules.org. Some of the businesses on the list offer deals for customers who show up on bicycle.
Business owners who have enrolled in the program — the majority of which are on Cortelyou Road — said that Ditmas Park would only benefit from more neighborhood bike lanes.
“Bikes are good and anything that encourages people to come to this neighborhood will help us,” said Sam Levin, the manager of Cortelyou Hardware. The store is now on Transportation Alternative’s bicycle-friendly list and is offering a 10-percent discount to any customer who shows up on a bike. “Bike lanes also will make the street safer for bike riders.”
The Department of Transportation identified Dorchester, Westminster and Stratford roads as potential routes on the city’s latest bicycle map, but admitted that there are no current plans to bring additional lanes to Ditmas Park.
Some community leaders say Ditmas Park isn’t ready for more bike lanes.
“For a bike lane to work it has to be on the appropriate street and bicyclists have to abide by the proper direction laws,” said Morris Sacks, the chairman of Community Board 14’s transportation committee. “You gotta educate the bike riders. It’s the education that’s missing.”Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg