Cyclists call on DOT to fix ‘chaotic’ Kent Avenue bike lane in Brooklyn

Ramsey Khalifeh

The Kent Avenue bike lane along the north Brooklyn waterfront has become a dangerous mess where cyclists, luxury building residents, pedestrians and drivers all compete for space, according to advocates and elected officials who are pressing the city for a fix.

“As a cyclist, my blood pressure is way way up because I’m constantly yelling at people to get out of the bike lane,” 33-year-old Brooklynite Gatlin Miller said as he walked along the street last week. “As a runner, the sidewalks are pretty narrow, so you kind of have to get out to the bike lane every now and again.”

“I wouldn’t even say controlled chaos — it’s pretty chaotic,” he said.

The area’s City Councilmember Lincoln Restler said he’s organizing businesses located along Kent Avenue, which runs through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, to call for the city Department of Transportation to address the problem. He said the city should widen the bike lanes and sidewalks along the avenue between Clymer and North 14th streets, and add a curb to keep drivers from encroaching on cyclists’ turf. He also calls for the DOT to install safe pedestrian crossings so pedestrians are less likely to collide with cyclists.

Restler estimated the project would cost between $30 million and $40 million.

“The Kent Avenue bike lane is one of the most actively utilized bike lanes in the entire country. It is one of the most critical pieces of bike infrastructure in New York City and bike riders deserve a safe, well-designed bike lane to get around,” Restler said. “If we really care about cyclists and their safety in New York City, then we should design and implement bike lanes that show it.”

DOT spokesperson Will Livingston said the agency is reviewing the design proposal. But he noted the city’s priority is “providing safe and accessible corridors for transportation” for “historically underserved communities,” which doesn’t include the north Brooklyn waterfront.

The city has moved forward with bike lane redesigns in other parts of the five boroughs in the last year.

The current version of the bike lane was installed as part of a 2009 redesign that turned Kent Avenue into a one-way street. The road previously allowed for car traffic in both directions, and had a one-way bike lane.

In a letter to the DOT in May, street safety advocates argued that the construction of waterfront luxury towers in Greenpoint and Williamsburg over the last 15 years has contributed to more traffic on the street.

On Tuesday afternoon, pedestrians and cyclists along Kent Avenue in Williamsburg’s north side — which features Marsha P. Johnson State Park, high rises and boutique wine shops — said that the street is mayhem.

Sam Behrens, an avid cyclist in the neighborhood, said he’s been injured in a crash in the bike lane.

“Somebody stepped backwards into the bike lane and my handlebar caught on their bag, and it basically just yanked the bike out from underneath me,” said Behrens, 34. “It’s easy to get mad at the pedestrian in that scenario, which I did obviously. But honestly there’s nothing to indicate to him that he shouldn’t step backwards at that moment.”

“So is it a failure of the person or of the infrastructure?” he added.

The letter from advocates noted the number of cyclists using the lane increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when New Yorkers turned to bikes at record numbers. DOT data cited in the letter shows that as many as 500 people biked along Kent Avenue past North Eighth Street every hour in May 2023.

“There’s not enough room for pedestrians,” said Jon Orcutt, advocacy director for Bike New York, which signed the letter. “Cyclists are forced into oncoming traffic by illegal parking and the bike lane is too narrow for the volumes that use it.”

Stephen Nessen contributed reporting.

By Ramsey Khalifeh , , News ,

2024-07-09 22:59:19 , Gothamist , Cyclists call on DOT to fix ‘chaotic’ Kent Avenue bike lane in Brooklyn

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