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The south will ride again: Grass-roots group of Southern Brooklyn cyclists push local leaders for new bike lanes

Expand them: One of Bike South Brooklyn's goals is to expand Fourth Avenue's bike paths beyond 65th Street, installing them deeper into lane-starved Bay Ridge.
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They’d wheely like more bike lanes!

Southern Brooklyn civic leaders must advocate for more dedicated bike paths in the area, according to local cyclists, who claimed the leaders of local community boards routinely thwart their efforts to promote the form of alternative transportation in traditionally car-heavy neighborhoods.

“The community boards are skewed toward preserving car culture, so we don’t have a lot of sensible bike access,” said Bay Ridge–based bicyclist Ed Yoo. “They think status quo is fine. I think it is absolutely not.”

Yoo recently moved from Greenpoint to the Ridge, where he quickly noticed a dearth of the dedicated pedaler’s paths common in the northern neighborhood, prompting him to join local cycling-advocacy group Bike South Brooklyn, which since 2018 has pushed for more lanes across the area.

“When I moved, I noticed a huge difference in the biking and pedestrian infrastructure between the neighborhoods, and I was interested in getting more involved,” he said. “The great thing about the group is we’re providing a voice to cyclists in the community. We’re providing the part of the conversation that’s been missing for a long time.”

But getting the city to significantly expand that infrastructure will require the support of civic gurus, some of whom show a partiality toward drivers, according to Bike South Brooklyn’s founder, who said his growing coalition of local cyclists — which now includes more than 100 members — helps to turn the wheels of change at the grass-roots level.

“We’re able to get organized, and focus our advertising and PR on local issues in Southern Brooklyn, doing things like getting more people to show up to community board meetings,” said Dan Hetteix,. “We’re fighting against the general car culture. They’re not organized but their coddled. They expect things to be given to them. They have traditionally been getting things handed to them.”

One of the group’s major goals is to revive a plan to lay bike lane from Bay Ridge through Southern Brooklyn to Queens along parts of the Bay Ridge Parkway, Avenue P, and Flatlands Avenue — a scheme the city considered back in 2011, before abandoning it after getting pushback from locals and pols, including Mayor DeBlasio, who then served as the city’s public advocate.

“I commend the city for responding to community concerns by halting its plans,” DeBlasio said at the time. “This was an important step forward that shows a willingness to respect the input of residents and community leaders.”

City transit chiefs understand the need for such a cross-borough bike lane, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman, who claimed the agency is working on new plans for that infrastructure.

“Our planners are aware of concerns about the need to improve east-west connections across South Brooklyn, an issue that came up during two public bike workshops we have held in Bay Ridge,” the rep said. “We look forward to presenting proposals for potential projects soon.”

Bike South Brooklyn also hopes to convince shot callers to install a Ridge-to-Rock bike lane across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which cyclists can now only cross aboard Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses equipped with bike racks. The city previously considered a plan to add suspended bike lanes to each side of the bridge, before scrapping the idea due to its $300–$400 million price tag — a cost Hetteix claimed officials dramatically inflated.

“Even when the bridge was built, people were complaining about a lack of a pedestrian path,” he said. “Much of that cost was due to huge, ridiculous ramps that ran down the big anchorage towers, rather than just using the existing on and off ramps.”

Other cycling infrastructure the group wants includes a bike lane over the Marine Parkway Bridge linking Marine Park and Queens, and an extension of the in-the-works Fourth Avenue bike lanes, which when complete will run from Atlantic Avenue to 65th Street in Bay Ridge, but should go further south, according to Bike South Brooklyn members.

The group’s efforts will only be amplified by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes’s (D–Bay Ridge) recently formed pedestrian-safety task force — whose ranks include Bike South Brooklyn member Brian Hedden — according to Hetteix, who noted an upcoming meeting of the task force and officials including Gounardes, Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge), Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D–Coney Island), and Transportation Department Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, will be an important step toward making the desired new bike lanes a reality.

“I’m happy to see a wider, cross-community-board coalition to focus on possible district-wide solutions,” Hetteix said. “Lots of times, transit issues stop at each community board’s boundary, and this could get good, local, cross-neighborhood feedback to act on.”

Share your thoughts on Southern Brooklyn bike lanes at the meeting of state Sen. Andrew Gounardes’s pedestrian-safety task force at PS 264 (371 89th St. between Third and Fourth avenues) on March 27 at 6 pm.

Updated 6:01 pm, March 26, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Please! It’s about time! Though at the same time, for these to work, bicycles need to keep on them.
March 21, 9:34 am
jerry krase from pasrk slope says:
well-planned bike routes cross crossing the city into an efficient car-reducing network are a great idea and a bike licensing fee would help to meet the cost. also for the bridge special lower bike tolls would be a great idea.
March 21, 10:09 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I forgot that De Blasio sucked back then too.
March 21, 10:51 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Deleting my comment pointing out that there is a bike lane on the Marine Parkway Bridge? Really? How sad.
March 21, 1:46 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Deleting my comment pointing out that we need more bike lanes and separated bike lanes especially? Really? How sad. Fourth ave is like a race track. Motorists are exceeding the speed limit by 30-30 M.P.H. Perhaps someone can inform jerry krase that roads are paid for via general and local taxation.
March 21, 1:55 pm
Ro from Park Slope says:
As a teenager, I rode my bike everyday along Bay Ridge Parkway, between Fort Hamilton Parkway and Bay Parkway, to and from work. I "kept right," moving along with cars and buses. Even without a bike lane, I never had an accident--because I rode safely. "75th Street" is already a slow one-laner in either direction during rush hour.
March 21, 3:41 pm
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
This dodo brain wants to be President. He gets wild crowds of 6 people up in New Hampshire.
March 21, 6:49 pm
Susan Rosenfeld from Sheepshead Bay says:
I have so many neighbors who do their errands in my neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods by bike. Without bike lanes they are at risk for accidents. Those complaining about bike lanes do not realize how many of their neighbors would benefit as well as businesses in the area. The bike lanes would be heavily used if implemented.
March 22, 8:10 am
Jerry Krase from park slope says:
I am a biker, and have been so for more than a half century I am in favor of real transportation planning that includes bike lanes, protected and not, the make sense. so whatsisname's comment is simply transportation alternatives mimicking. motorists actually pay more taxes and fees specifically for tunnel, road, and bridge maintenance, not to mention paying for bike lanes as well. as a non-schnorring biker, I would pleased to pay my way when I use my bike. how about registration and licensing fees for bikes as well as ticketing for violations? I am also a socialist biker in favor of 'from each according their ability and to each according to their need.' so it should be progressive fees.
March 22, 9:22 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
You're wrong, Jerry.
March 22, 10:06 am
tyler from pps says:
"motorists actually pay more taxes and fees specifically for tunnel, road, and bridge maintenance, not to mention paying for bike lanes as well." -- Jerry Krase, that is WRONG. I own a car. My 'more taxes' go to the MTA bridges and tunnels (no bikes there) and the STATE highway system, not the city. Also, you want to impose a complicated disincentive to cycling, but you also want "an efficient car-reducing network" and don't see how those are incompatible? Point to any city on earth that has a successful bicycle licensing program... and point to any city that has high bicycle ridership... how much overlap?
March 22, 11:49 am
Henry Finkelstein from Homecrest/sheepshead Bay says:
Tell the pedal pushers to keep off the sidewalks and use headlights and rear reflectors at night. till then reserve protected pedestrian paths for the rest of us .
March 22, 1:38 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Homecrest/sheepshead Bay says:
Bike lanes placed within a car lane is stupid as well as counter productive.
March 22, 1:40 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Homecrest/sheepshead Bay says:
Tell all the overweight motorists in their SUV with no passengers, to get off their phone and stop speeding.
March 22, 2:24 pm
Henry Finkelstein from homecrest sheepshead bay says:
The last poster is an imposter. Just what I would expect from a pedal pusher who probably bikes on the streets and sidewalks at night without illumination except for the text he uses. Confiscate their bikes, now.
March 22, 3:38 pm
Shirley Ranz from Kings Bay says:
Bicyclers act as if they don't have to ever stop or slow down.
March 22, 3:40 pm
Henry Finkelstein from homecrest sheepshead bay says:
The last poster is an imposter. Just what I would expect from an obese motorist who probably drives on the sidewalks at night without illumination except for the text he uses. Confiscate their SUVs, now.
March 22, 4:21 pm
Henry Finkelstein from homecrest sheepshead bay says:
Pipe down, Henry Fecalstink!
March 22, 5:09 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
Jerry: Whats a "socialist biker"? One who can't afford his own bike? We need a funded plan to handle the transportation needs of the NYC economy (that's what pays for it) that would adequately provide for each mode: first, pedestrians(we all walk directly to our destination or to engage other modes); second, public transit(not happening now); third, by POV or shared vehicles which are growing as a result of neglect of public transit; fourth, local and express buses; and, in a distant fifth, expensive ferries; and then sixth, pedalcycles and other exotic modes. Work-at-home is a big part of the economy too. Some are good for long distance and time others are useless for that. Bikes and scooters are short-haul solutions. It's a BIG City. Forget trams but forget trucks at your peril. Starve one mode and it will soon show the strain. When we tax car owners and drivers and deliver all the revenues to the MTA watch out!
March 22, 5:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I am not surprised by the usual tales told by the streetsblogger zealouts, but truth be told, bike lanes are a massive failure and do nothing but make driving very difficult. I find it ironic that taxpaying motorists foot the bill for the parasitic bikers, many of whom do not apparently work for a living. There has been so much hamasing of motorists...reminds me of the Spanish Armada vs. Elizabeth the first.
March 23, 6:15 pm
P. from Diker Hights says:
Unfortunately, we can't have nice things in South Brooklyn. This comment section is a proof of it. Of course there is an urgent need for safe solutions in South Brooklyn. While the rest of NYC grows and prospers we are stuck with 80's infrastructure. We need anything we can get to calm traffic and make this nook of the world more livable. But, frankly, we are unlikely to get any of it. At least Bay Ridge might move forward. I have little hope for Dikers or Bensonhurst.
March 23, 9:16 pm
Peter Pyle from Prospect Park says:
Walking on 8th avenue at 9PM and was nearly hit by bicycle dressed in dark attire and without a headlight. He was wearing a helmet in case he hit me. Did not stop to see how I was.
March 24, 10:47 am
Sherlock from London says:
It's spelled Dyker Heights, imposter.
March 25, 6:25 am
Wrong way says:
I work on the Upper east side and these delivery guys often ride their bikes in the wrong direction. You have to look for cars one way and bikes the other way. Delivery guys often from who knows where.
March 25, 7:53 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Since we are on the subject of bike lanes, here is a letter from the Daily News describing them. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-letter-sunday-20190324-ityt2po5nbfrtmak3qzap6vp2u-story.html Look both ways Manhattan: The bike lanes on Columbus and Amsterdam Aves. pose a big risk. One recent day, a taxi picked up a passenger, but the driver went into the bike lane, and then tried to back out of the bike lane. The driver then drove forward to get out of the bike lane and into the regular street traffic, but this was not safe either. In addition, bikers in the bike lanes do not look out for pedestrians and do not observe traffic laws, which is another recipe for an accident. Just as cars get tickets for poor driving and not obeying traffic rules, bicyclists should also be given tickets for not obeying traffic rules. I wish all New Yorkers a safe spring season. Amy Rosenfeld
March 25, 12:11 pm

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