Riding high: City wants to green-light illicit bike path across Court Street

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Legalize it!

The city will finally sanction a popular but illicit route for cyclists trying to get across Court Street from Amity to Dean streets under a proposed overhaul of the Cobble Hill intersection, and easy riders are stoked — they say they’ve been blowing that joint for years anyway, and it’s time The Man let them bring their habit out in the open so they can do it safely.

“People are already doing it,” said Cobble Hill bike activist Bahij Chancey at a Community Board 6 meeting on Dec. 15, where Department of Transportation bigwigs unveiled the plan. “I don’t think it will increase the number of people doing it, I just think it means the people who are doing it will be safe.”

The two streets both abut Court Street on opposite sides but are offset by about 45 feet. Traffic on the hairy thoroughfare is one-way and Red Hook-bound, so travelers coming to the end of Amity Street can’t make a left-hand, Carroll Gardens-bound turn over Dean street without getting on the wrong side of the Fuzz — although many riders do it anyhow.

Now officials want to okay the underground movement, painting markings across Court Street and installing signs that read “no left turn except bicycles” at Amity Street.

But one local totally harshed the bikers’ mellow, saying it was half-baked to encourage more free-wheeling commuters to do something that is supposed to be against the law.

“You’re allowing cyclists to do something that is technically illegal and you can ticket a motorist for it,” said board member Jerry Armer.

A transportation honcho said the department is making a rare exception for safety’s sake.

“It’s not something we like to do all of the time,” said Ted Wright, the department’s director of, err, greenways. “What we’re doing is trying to provide a safer way for some of these people who making that crossing.”

The signs are just one part of the plan — agency officials also want to stick a two-block bike lane on Amity Street from Henry to Court streets to fill gaps in the pedaling-path network, and install another crosswalk over Court Street, outside the Starbucks at Dean Street.

The changes won’t bogart any vehicle lanes, though they could nix one parking space, the reps said. Workers will just narrow the current one-way travel lane on Amity Street a little and paint the cycling lane markings next to it, maintaining parking lanes on either side.

Five pedestrians, five cyclists, and six vehicle occupants were injured in crashes along on the two block stretch of Amity Street between 2010 and 2014, according to bummer city data.

The committee members decided to hold off voting on the proposal until they rap with more Cobble Hill residents at next month’s meeting.

— with Colin Mixson

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Mike from Slope says:
It's also possible (if, perhaps, a police officer is watching) to dismount, cross on foot in the crosswalk, and remount going down Dean.
Dec. 19, 2016, 9:43 am
Jane from Brooklyn says:
@ Mike from the Slope-but since they break so many other laws (police around or not), why bother with one more?
Dec. 19, 2016, 10:41 am
bike breaks from Town says:
Need to put the breaks on bike freedoms as they are out of control.

Register and License Plate bikes and hold them accountable for their actions in a public street.

If we all have to share it, we all have to abide by the same rules and enforcement of the road.

By giving them freedoms that others (autos) don't have, you only empower them to become more out of control than the already are. It's like a reward for bad behivior.
Dec. 19, 2016, 1:35 pm
AMH says:
What a ridiculous article. "You’re allowing cyclists to do something that is technically illegal..." Obviously, it will be legal--that's the entire point.
Dec. 19, 2016, 2:52 pm
Carroll Streeter from Park Slope says:
AMH, great point. What a strange comment from the committee member. If DOT makes the move legal, it won't be illegal anymore! And if people are already doing it and there haven't been any problems, why not make it legal?
Dec. 19, 2016, 5:23 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I'm so tired of cyclists always thinking that they should be allowed to whatever they want to on the road while everyone else must be subject to them. This almost reminds me of George Orwell's Animal Farms where a certain group of animals were exempt from the laws while all other animals had to be obey every letter of them. In a densely populated city such as NYC, cyclists shouldn't get any special treatment when other vehicles don't. Keep in mind why Alan Dershowitz wrote that recent column on the Daily News about why there are cyclists who show little or no respect for others. Then again, I might support that special rule for cyclists once the city repeals the no right turn on red law for motorists, which is allowed everywhere else in this country, but I doubt that will happen so no dice on that.
Dec. 19, 2016, 6:14 pm
From end of Amity move to left and
wait for walk sign (don't block curb cut
on Amity).
Then ride slowly parallel to crosswalk,
avoiding pedestrians (use of bell helps).
When across street, make slight right
hand turn onto Dean. As cyclist should
still have walk sign when making turn
pedestrians crossing Dean would
have to obey stop sign.
Again, bell helps. Would be a safe and
legal crossing for both cyclist and peds.
no signs, just common sense and
A lost art.
Dec. 19, 2016, 6:45 pm
Valerie from Red Hook says:
Q: # of hit and run deaths in NYC from bicycles in 2016?

Answer the question.

(I drive also but let's get real: the fewer cars the better for me behind the wheel also.)
Dec. 19, 2016, 7:21 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Ah, Tal... 'I will support it if I get something out of it.' Sadly, you have no clue what you are talking about here. The city has the power to re-route the bike lane and allow cyclists to make a 45 foot move across the crosswalk legally and safely. However, it is enshrined in state law that right turns on red are banned in all cities with a population greater than 1 million people. So the city has no control over that. However, your very own legislators, since they are state level but have nothing to do with the city, could have the power to make that change. Why don't you go drive over to their office and talk to them. I'm sure they'll love to hear from you. I mean, you are actually their constituent and all. But hey, if you don't get anything out of it, we should do nothing to make someone else safer, right? Ah, hypocrisy at its best.
Dec. 19, 2016, 7:22 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Josh, my point is that cyclists shouldn't be special treatment to the laws if all other motorists aren't given that. Please explain to me why your group does deserve them when other don't. Of course, I wouldn't mind talking to the state to repeal that law about no right turns on red in cities such as NYC, because I find it meaningless outside the major centers not to mention annoying having to wait for a green light when there is nobody on the intersecting road. Ironically, I find it interesting how you aren't against cyclists disobeying traffic lights and signs yet encourage that. On a related note, I suggest you actually read Alan Dershowitz's latest column on the Daily News about bike zealots, because he is stating what Paul Steely White will never talk about especially since he is known to have an anti-car bias.
Dec. 19, 2016, 7:58 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
I agree with Jerry. Bikes are supposed to behave like motorists, like another vehicel on the road. That they don't, and that cyclists don't know that or care to, is a huge issue in this city. I love this quote from another article: “It’s not like the bike lane ends and then there’s some sort of guideline." In fact, there is a guideline. Act like a motor vehicle. That's what I always learned. Let's get these cyclists some training.
Dec. 19, 2016, 8:53 pm
Jake from Clinton Hill says:
"cyclists shouldn't be special treatment to the laws if all other motorists aren't given that." Cyclists aren't "motorists."
Dec. 19, 2016, 8:55 pm
Sid from Boreum hill says:
Signs may allow that which is otherwise prohibited. BTW right turns on red are prohibited in cities over a milion except where permitted by a sign. The city may allow bikes to go contra to traffic with appropiate signs. I am not sure its a good idea but that doesn't mean it can't be done.
Dec. 19, 2016, 11:39 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
I have to stop at a crosswalk and walk across the street to get from Amity Street to Dean street. Bicycle riders should do that, too. They are a bunch of bullies, scoff laws and probably voted for Donald Trump.
Dec. 20, 2016, 5:48 am
samir kabir from downtown says:
P.S.: What's with the miniscule DOT "illustration" under the traffic sign graphic in this article? Completely useless and illegible. Trademarks of a Lauren Gill article.
Dec. 20, 2016, 5:53 am
Ruth Brown (Brooklyn Paper) says:
Samir - the reporters are not responsible for the graphics in articles, of course. In this case, the production dept. made a tiny error that resulted in the zoom function not working, which is an easy fix.
Dec. 20, 2016, 11:17 am
Josh from Manhattan says:
Tal, my only group is AAA.

Yes, I have read his opinion piece. And he is entitled to his opinion (especially since he actually lives in the city). And I actually agree with a lot of what he says. Cyclists who ride unsafely should be shamed by other cyclists. And I do shame them. And no pedestrian should ever have to worry about actually getting hit by a cyclist (assuming not jaywalking in an usafe manner). But 'almost' getting hit is completely subjective. I once had a little old lady yell at me for almost hitting her in the crosswalk - yet I came to a stop with my front wheel on the stop line five feet behind the crosswalk.

And please provide a piece of evidence where I have said that I am against cyclists following laws? In the case we are talking about here, we are talking about helping cyclists follow the law. But laws can also be wrong or outdated, and just because it is or has been a law, does not mean it should always remain. That's the beauty of laws- they are made by people and can be changed by people to match the times and experience. If not, it would still be illegal for a black woman to marry a white man, or for gay men to consumate their emotional bond. And white men would still own human beings. Yes, these are big examples, but little laws should be examined as well.

But none of this matters to you, because you don't feel like you get anything out of it, so it must be wrong.
Dec. 20, 2016, 11:58 am
Tyler from pps says:
Look at all of the whiners.... You indignant folks know that the DOT would allow *car* to make this quick left-right to go straight if drivers could be trusted not to (a) run someone over and (b) block traffic and gumming up the entire intersection.

Cyclists can navigate this intersection with no problem. If there wasn't an article to whine about, I can be almost 100% certain that every single one of you wouldn't even register this cycling behavior as problematic if you were standing on the corner of Court and Dean and 20 cyclists rode by you.
Dec. 20, 2016, 12:01 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
More White Bikes!
Dec. 20, 2016, 2:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Josh, whatever you say about motorists, I can easily say the same things about cyclists and pedestrians as well. They just as much flout the laws as well yet you tend to look a blind eye to that. When they flout the laws, they are placing themselves into harm's way. I really do suggest you read that column from Alan Dershowitz that I linked, because he state the behavior of cyclists. Judging by your statement, my guess is that you didn't even bother to read it. For the record, I don't condone the actions of reckless drivers and I do think that they should be held for their actions, but the same goes with cyclists and pedestrians when they brake the laws as well hence no special treatment. BTW, being against giving cyclists special treatment isn't hating them, it's just saying that they shouldn't be above all others. On a side note, don't bring race into this, because what you just gave is an example of segregation and other forms of discrimination, which would also be known as the Jim Cro Laws that I am highly against. Just keep in mind that claim that cyclists are a threat are in fact and that many want them to follow the existing laws with no special treatment for them at all.
Dec. 20, 2016, 3:59 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Tal, considering all you keep saying is that it is such a good article, and then you accuse me of not reading it when I addressed several points in his opinion piece, I am left to conclude that you have not actually read his piece. Especially because it is written as pure opinion, what he feels, and he never once tried to make it out to be evidence based, other than his own anacdotes. On the other hand, you seem to be holding it up as this gold standard of proof.

And your comments about the Jim Crow laws are interesting. One of the many reasons many white folks wanted the black man to be kept in his place was because of the 'threat' they posed. And likening antibike rants to that of racism is not so far off. It is an unwarranted and irrational fear or hatred of a group of people because of an unrelated shared characteristic within the group resulting in bias against them.

But as an aside to you, not counting the juvenile troll who posts immature comments attributed to you, have you noticed that more people disrespect you on this site than respect you? I know, I know, it's the bike zealots or such, because one time, you got a Times Pick for one of your comments.
Dec. 20, 2016, 6:23 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Likening racial discrimination to criticizing some sheltered snowflake on a bike has to be the most ridiculous thing I've read on this site. Yeah, Jim Crow is just like having to stop your bike at red lights and stop signs.
Dec. 20, 2016, 10:49 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Do any of you look outside your weirdly sheltered environment? Go to almost ANY city around the world and "Don't X, Except Bicycles" signs are everywhere. Most of the civilized world isn't scared of bicycles.
Dec. 21, 2016, 10:39 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nobody is really against bicycles, it's the way that those behave when riding them that bring up the opposition. Until there should be changes for how they can use the roads, they should be subject to follow the traffic laws just like any other vehicle does. Unfortunately, many of the bike zealots don't realize that the complaints against their behavior is real as they tend to brush it off as fake news like the column that Dershowitz recently wrote. They have to learn to stop acting like victims to the rules and start following them if they want any reforms at all. Just because bicycles don't produce any forms of emissions, it doesn't excuse those using them from following the traffic laws. More importantly, I have always found bike zealots to be in a double standard in saying that anyone who drives a motor vehicle of any sort must follow every letter of the law when at the same time they feel that they should be exempt from a good number of them. If that doesn't sound like Animal Farms, then I don't know what does.
Dec. 21, 2016, 3:48 pm
NN from Boerum Hill says:
This is a really good idea, as is adding a new crosswalk at Dean.
Dec. 22, 2016, 2:52 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: