Since the beginning of December, riding your bike to work in New York City got a little easier, but riding through Brooklyn just got a little harder. On Monday, the NYC Department of Transportation and Department of Building announced that together, they would work to implement the Bicycle Access to Office Building Law, which will help cyclists secure parking at their office buildings and thereby encourage more people to bike to work. Strangely though, earlier this month, the NYC DOT sandblasted away a bike lane on Bedford Avenue, between Flushing Avenue and Division Street, forcing many Brooklynites to leave their bikes at home. There is certainly a large dose of irony here – why get cyclists to bike to work while at the same time eliminating a thoroughfare that, as several comments to a Streetsblog post proved, many need to gain access to Manhattan?
To provide some background, according to the NYC DOT press release, commuter cycling increased by 26% since last year — and could be even greater if cyclists felt there was a secure place to store their bikes at their workplace. The new law will allow tenants of a building to request bike access, which the owner must grant or petition to the city for an exception.
However, just the week before, Streetsblog spotted NYC DOT workers converting bike lanes into a left-turn lane for cars. The DOT was quoted explaining the changes, “A small portion of this lane is being removed as part of ongoing bike network adjustments in the area, which have included the recent addition of a barrier-protected connector lane on nearby Williamsburg Street and the completion of a unique, two-way protected lane on parallel Kent Avenue.” While this explanation seems plausible, many in the community are speculating that the elimination of 14 blocks of bike lanes has more to do with the local Hasidic community and their disapproval of scantily-clad ladies on their bicycles. To take it just a little further and into the world of politics, some say that Bloomberg promised this concession to the Hasidic community during the last election.
Almost 100 comments proclaiming that the changes make the street less safe to ride on have been posted on the original article. Follow-up articles on Streetsblog cover the public outcry that has ensued. A guerrilla bike lane appeared in the early hours of Monday, December 7, just in time for morning commuters and incidentally, the same morning that the DOT and DOB announced their Bikes in Buildings program. We encourage you to wander over to Streetsblog for a video of the re-painting or just watch it below.